How to Make the Most of Your Nonprofit Internship Jill Doub Manager of Volunteers and Interns Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Demonstrate that you’re interested in the mission.Nonprofits are all about their missions. They exist to serve some publicgood. Everything works better when we’re all invested in the change wewant to see in the world.
Act like a grown upDo our generation justice. Know when to get off your phone. Know howto dress. Speak intelligently and professionally.
Ask for both short and long term projects.If you finish one project and feel like you have some down time, work onsomething long term. Do not default to facebook when you have freetime.
Use it as an opportunity to learn about your field.You might find out you don’t want to do this kind of work after all.
Meet as many people as you can.Schedule informational interviews with someone in every department.Eat lunch with people. Keep in touch with them after your internshipends.
Show you can be trusted with small tasks.Don’t get annoyed when they don’t immediately recognize your sparklingintellect and above-average capabilities.
Be careful with social media.Don’t use it during work. Watch what you post about your internship.Check with coworkers before you friend or follow them. LinkedIn isspecifically designed for work-related connections.
Listen and observe more than you talk.Be friendly, but don’t be too chatty. To learn from your coworkers, youneed to give them a chance to talk. Sitting back and observing allowsyou to immerse yourself in the office culture and pick up valuable jargon.
Keep a record of everything you do.Be as detailed as possible. Keep physical copies of anything that looksimpressive. You can take this stuff to job interviews.
Realize that it’s not all about you.Nonprofits need this work to be done. If you let them down, it impedestheir mission and ultimately the community they serve.
End on a good note.Don’t let a stellar start be an excuse for trailing off toward the end ofyour internship.
Know that you may not get a job at this organization.Even if you were the best intern ever. Most nonprofits are small. They don’thire a huge number of people each year. The trick is to stay on their radar sowhen they do hire, your application goes to the top of the pile.
Be able to tell people what you did.Professors. Hiring managers. Grad school applications. You’ll need asuccinct but inspiring way to tell folks what you accomplished.
Keep volunteering at the organization after yourinternship ends.It’s a great way to keep in touch. You’ll also continue to build your skills.If they like you, they’ll tell you about job openings as soon as theybecome available and make sure your resume gets read.