Summer of Purpose: Connor Brentar

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 Connor Brentar, who spent his summer at Bike Cleveland assisting in planning a youth bike summit and providing support on other projects.

Name: Connor BrentarConnor Brentar

College: Cleveland State University

Hometown: Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Internship Host Site: Bike Cleveland

Why did you initially decide to participate in this internship program?

I was drawn to the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship Program because I knew that it was a very good opportunity for students looking to enter public service careers. I also became interested in applying because I have friends from college who work at some of the host sites. In addition, I became really excited to apply for the program when I saw the quality of this year’s host sites.

What has been the most valuable aspect of your internship experience?

To me, the most valuable aspect of the internship has been working on projects that make a real difference and help to advance Bike Cleveland’s mission. Among these projects, I have written a blog series aimed at educating readers on the importance of quality bike infrastructure, created a map for us to keep inventory of our existing bike network, and helped to design several proposed bicycle boulevard routes across the city. The picture at the top of the blog shows a piece of temporary signage that I designed for the route in West Park.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your internship experience?

The greatest challenge of my internship experience has been learning to quickly balance smaller projects with ones that are larger and more long-term. However, I have enjoyed this challenge because I feel that it has given me real insight and experience in relation to the type of work that is conducted in the nonprofit sector.

How has this internship helped you grow professionally & personally?

I am currently attending graduate school for my master’s degree in urban planning, and prior to this internship experience, I strongly believed that I wanted to enter into a career in the public sector after graduation. However, I’m truly thankful for this experience because it has helped me see that I can do more impactful, community-level work as an urban planner at a nonprofit. Additionally, I feel that I have attained so much personal growth from all of the networking opportunities during this internship, which will be extremely helpful once I’m ready to enter the field.

Where would you take a friend who is visiting Cleveland for the first time?

I think that the #1 place to take someone when they visit Cleveland is the art museum – I have always loved going there since my childhood, and it is a true gem of our city. I would also want to take a visiting friend to Ohio City, not just because of the restaurants and quaint streets, but because it is my favorite part of the city.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship Program?

If you are interested in going into public service as a career, then this is one of the most valuable experiences you can get! So, you should definitely apply because it is an amazing, fulfilling experience. Not only do all of the host sites engage in truly meaningful work, but being in the cohort with other people your age and making connections with them is fantastic!

Learn more about spending a #SummerOfPurpose as a Cleveland Foundation intern.