Interns Assist Headquarters Team, Learn New Skills throughout SummerJune 29, 2012 | Indianapolis
College Mentors for Kids is known as an organization connecting college students with the most to give to kids who need it most, but the non-profit’s commitment to mentoring goes even further than its signature mentor program. Behind the scenes, its award-winning internship program at the Indianapolis-based headquarters prepares college students to take on roles in non-profit management and community leadership.
The internship program places priority on teamwork, high-quality outputs, and the experience necessary to achieve both. Intern associates work closely with a staff supervisor in order to establish goals for learning and professional development.
Samantha Ryan, College Mentors for Kids’ associate program director, said interns participate in extensive training and orientation to ensure they are prepared for the variety of tasks they will complete throughout the summer.
“This summer’s four interns were selected from an outstanding applicant pool and are meeting all of the challenges we give to them,” Ryan said. “Just like many other nonprofits, everyone is asked to be ready to “wear a different hat” to work every day. They are definitely meeting my expectations.”
Intern projects include everything from grant writing and funding research to public relations and program development. Other opportunities to develop and expand on skills are provided through regular community service projects, networking meetings with other non-profits, and training in leadership, communication and work styles.
Emily Meyer, College Mentors for Kids’ director of programming, stated that the summer internship program is an essential element to program success.
“There is no ‘busy work’ for our interns. There isn’t any time for it,” Meyer said. “After they are trained in everything from our mission to our specific chapter structures, we get them working on projects right away. This year, our programming interns are working side-by-side with our full-time staff on a new model of online training. They really are a great asset to the organization.”
College Mentors’ combination of mentoring and professional expectations produces results. Marushka Grogan, development intern, said that the program helped her become more focused and driven.
“I discovered just how much I could accomplish if I really believed in a project.” Grogan said. “The responsibilities and challenges I took on at College Mentors are helping me become confident identifying community needs and responding to them on an effective scale.”
The program’s success in developing young adults’ professional skills and commitment to service have attracted the interest and support of entrepreneurial companies like Starbucks, who funds the program’s stipends and comprehensive training opportunities.
The program has also received recognition from organizations such as Indiana INTERNnet, who awarded College Mentors for Kids a 2009 Impact Award for Outstanding Nonprofit Intern Employer of the Year.
Tony Barenie, College Mentors for Kids’ development associate, said the ideal intern is driven by the mission, capable of developing solutions to challenges and community-oriented.
“Our development and programming interns all have a few things in common,” Barenie said. “They have all demonstrated their ability to overcome challenges and displayed a passion for helping their community. We are incredibly fortunate to have such a talented group of students working with us to further our mission.”
Barenie also sees this program as another aspect of the organization’s commitment to developing college students’ leadership and life-long service skills.
One past intern, Ashley Craig, summed up her experience at College Mentors: “You never know when your work is impacting someone. Just because you cannot see the direct impact, does not mean you’re not helping someone.”
Grogan, who is in the middle of her second summer as an intern, described her experience with College Mentors for Kids.
“As myself and fellow interns go on to other jobs in the non-profit sector and beyond, I know we will be well prepared to become mentors for a new generation of service-oriented leaders.”