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 Alexis Watkins, who spent their summer at Lake Erie Ink where they worked on summer programming and fundraising initiatives.
Name: Alexis Watkins
College: Baldwin Wallace University
Hometown: Mentor, Ohio
Internship Host Site: Lake Erie Ink
Why did you initially decide to participate in this internship program?
Growing up in a suburb in Northeast Ohio, I always felt rather disconnected from the City of Cleveland. After hearing about this program from a friend who had been in another cohort, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to learn more about Cleveland and further develop career-focused skills.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your internship experience?
The most valuable aspect of my internship experience was getting to interact with the community in Cleveland. Whether that meant talking to community members at a Lake Erie Ink event or getting to hear from other host sites during professional development days, there were endless opportunities to connect with individuals throughout Cleveland.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your internship experience?
I have worked with nonprofits through volunteering opportunities or school organizations, but gaining professional experience in the field was completely different. In learning how to navigate everything from grant reports to “friendraising” events, there was a big learning curve for me. However, my host site supervisors gave me all the tools and resources I needed to succeed, which made it a very fulfilling experience!
How has this internship helped you grow professionally & personally?
This summer, I have learned a lot about nonprofit marketing and fundraising. Getting firsthand experience in these areas has strengthened my professional knowledge and given me new skills that I can bring to future experiences. Personally, I have gained confidence when it comes to my future. I came into this summer feeling very uneasy about my last year of college and everything that follows, but throughout this program, I have become much more sure of my future goals.
Where would you take a friend who is visiting Cleveland for the first time?
When visiting a new place for the first time, I always want to try the food first! So I would take a friend who is new to Cleveland to some of my local favorites: Barrio, Mitchell’s Ice Cream, and Phoenix Coffee!
What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship Program?
I would tell them that they should definitely apply! If you’re looking for an internship to not only give you real-world experience in the nonprofit/public sector field but also to teach you more about the Cleveland community, this program is perfect for you. Just be authentic and confident throughout the application process.