Summer of Purpose: Raquel Cairns

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 Raquel Cairns, who spent her summer at DANCECleveland working on Cleveland Dance Day. 

Name: Raquel CairnsRaquel Cairns

College: Cleveland State University

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Internship Host Site: DANCECleveland


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

My initial interest was sparked after seeing DANCECleveland listed as one of the host sites. I also had a growing interest in nonprofits and knew of the Cleveland Foundation and their impact in the community. I found the application link on social media a few days before the deadline and decided it wouldn’t hurt to try. Looking back now on the experience, I am very glad I did.

What was the most valuable aspect of your internship experience?

Getting to further immerse myself in the Cleveland dance community and make meaningful connections with artists and administrators. The Cleveland dance community is a network of love and support, everyone knows everyone, and it feels like a big family. There is something beautiful about having such a positive experience that it both validates and inspires the future plans you have for yourself. Being appreciated for my work and constantly encouraged helped me blossom, things can only get better from here.

What was the most challenging aspect of your internship experience?

As the point of communication for a big community event like Community Dance Day, there are a lot of emails to send and not a lot of replies received. There were challenging moments of waiting to hear back from studios or teaching artists regarding materials for the event. I was lucky to be part of such a supportive team, they reassured me every step of the way and always advised accordingly.

How did this internship helped you grow professionally & personally?

Professionally this job has helped me a ton, not only with the many connections I’ve made but also in experience. This was my first time having a key role in the coordination of such a large-scale event. Learning about how big the nonprofit sector is in Cleveland even gave me the final push I needed to add a Nonprofit Admin minor to my degree. Personally, as I said above, this experience has been beautiful in the sense that it further confirmed that I am on the right path and will have success in my field.

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

I would most likely take them to the Cleveland Metroparks. As someone who was born and raised in Cleveland, the Metroparks have always been a big part of my life. The views are gorgeous and there’s always a new spot to explore. There are plenty of hidden gem spots to film new choreography too. Afterwards we’d either go see a dance performance or take a community class somewhere!

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

Do it. My best advice is to truly just go for it. I applied for this internship on a whim and ended up having an amazing experience. You will meet so many people in different fields from different backgrounds, you’ll learn things about the city you’ve never heard of and grow as a person and a scholar in the community.


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

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