Our #SummerOfPurpose blog series follows this year’s Cleveland Foundation Summer Interns as they reflect on 11 weeks spent working with Cleveland-area nonprofit and public sector organizations. In today’s blog, we hear from Joy Mason, who spent her summer at Starting Point, where she worked with their leadership on organizational development, policy creation and strategic planning.
Name: Joy Mason
College: Case Western Reserve University (’22) | The Ohio State University (’24, MHA)
Hometown: Mentor, OH
Internship Host Site: Starting Point
Why did you initially decide to participate in this internship program?
Since 2015, I have been laser-focused on my career in healthcare, volunteering and/or completing internships with Lake Health, University Hospitals and Cleveland Clinic. While these experiences were eye-opening and career-shaping, I wanted to diversify my learning in the summer between graduating from CWRU and starting graduate school at OSU.
In the future, I hope to be a hospital administrator. I believe that healthcare is most effective and impactful when it is delivered with a holistic approach to patients, which means having a robust understanding of your community. Even though I grew up in a Cleveland suburb and attended college in University Circle, I wanted a chance to do an even deeper dive into the city of Cleveland.
Furthermore, I hoped to gain a better understanding of nonprofits and the public sector, as I strive to remain civically engaged for a long time to come! This goal stems from the four years I spent as a scholar with CWRU’s Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL). Although I learned of the Cleveland Foundation in high school, I developed a deeper understanding of the organization and its programs (especially the internship program) through CCEL and friends who completed the internship.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your internship experience?
I have most valued the networking opportunities. Whether it be with fellow interns in the cohort, program alumni, coaches or community leaders, I am always grateful for the lessons I learn from others with shared experiences. I have even been able to draw some networking connections between the public sector space and my previous internships! Additionally, through meeting with others, I learned about the seemingly infinite amount of career opportunities in the public sector. While my primary career goals are focusing on hospital administration right now, I can see a crossover in the near future!
What has been the most challenging aspect of your internship experience??
The most challenging aspect of my internship experience has been stepping outside of my comfort zone. I feel most at home in a hospital setting, and I admittedly knew very little about the public sector before this summer. However, with the help of my supervisors, fellow interns, and program coaches, I quickly settled into my internship and found ways to draw on my strengths while still learning something new every day.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing around Cleveland?
In my free time, I love meeting up with friends and exploring this great city! Everywhere from Ohio City to Asiatown, Cleveland sports, coffee houses, University Circle and Uptown! I also love to lace up my roller skates and explore local parks while, of course, posing with the Cleveland signs!
What are your career goals after college?
In the fall, I will be attending The Ohio State University to earn my Master of Health Administration. Upon graduation in May 2024, I hope to secure an Administrative Fellowship in a hospital and eventually go on to become a hospital administrator. In addition to my primary career, I hope to fuse hospital administration with community engagement. I look forward to giving back throughout my career in a multitude of ways, but especially through mentoring students and young professionals and personally investing in leadership development. As a first-generation college student, the value I put on the connections I’ve made is immeasurable, and I’m excited to pass it on.
How has this internship helped you grow professionally?
This internship made me step out of my comfort zone which was a good experience for me. This internship also helped me in making key connections and working on real-life problem-solving. I communicated with others through a variety of channels and managed numerous projects varying in length and depth that I was able to take ownership in.
How has this internship helped you grow personally?
This internship helped me to broaden my personal interests. I knew I had passions for leadership, public health, education and community engagement, but I had little idea of how I could fuse those interests with my love for healthcare. Through the networking that I had access to in this internship, I was able to gain more clarity on how I could leverage my different interests in the future and make an even bigger impact on my community.
What’s your favorite public space in Cleveland?
When I look to escape the hustle and bustle of city living but still want to stay in Cleveland, I love Edgewater Park! The trails are beautiful, the view of the skyline is unforgettable, and you can snap an up-close picture with one of the famous Cleveland signs! Closer to the heart of Cleveland, I love Ohio City and the West Side Market! If you’re talking downtown Cleveland, Playhouse Square and Public Square are beautiful areas to explore!
What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship program?
First, I would recommend giving thought to your personal, academic and professional goals. This will help guide you during your interview process, but if chosen, having these goals in mind will also help you in forming a meaningful summer experience. There are a lot of opportunities to grow personally and professionally in this internship, and if you have an idea of what you are looking for, plenty of folks will help guide you toward those goals.
Second, do some personal reflection and consider what drives you. What is your personal mission? What are your core values? What is your “why?” Having a grasp on your personal compass will help to ground you in your work, drive ambition, and serve as motivation throughout your internship and hopefully for the rest of your life. While any of these items can change as you evolve over time, it’s good to get into the practice of being self-aware.
Last, come into this internship program with an open mind. Even if you have lived in or around Cleveland for your whole life, there is still so much to learn from so many amazing organizations and individuals in this incredible city!