My STEP project included two internships. I worked 20 hours a week at the Wexner Center for the Arts, where I was the development department assistant. I worked 10 hours a week at Wild Goose Creative, where I was a marketing and fundraising intern. My funding was used to support my housing costs and food costs for the summer.
STEP funding was transformational for me because I learned a lot about myself. I learned how to live and work independently, especially when many of my roommates were out of town during the month of May. I learned how to manage a budget and plan effectively for meals. I was empowered to live and work on my own in a city other than the city I grew up in by this funding opportunity.
I recognized how independent STEP funding allowed me to become when I contracted mono midway through the summer. At first, I thought I was still just burned out from the semester. I had been miserable for a week, and I went to the doctor to check for strep. When I came home, realized I would be exhausted and isolated for the next month and a half, I nearly broke down crying. But I couldn’t. I completed work for my two jobs, did my laundry, prepared some meals that I could actually swallow, and went to bed.
STEP, in a much more meta way, also made me recognize how much I regretted using this funding for housing and food for the summer. I should have used the money for a school trip, which would be much simpler to report back on. I was blinded and myopic because I thought my obligations to opportunities I had over the summer would shut me out from ever attending such programming. When I recognized my position wasn’t a good fit, I was liberated. If I could do it again, I would have waitressed and taken on more jobs to pay for my housing. The STEP process, while a generous and cool idea, was such a frustrating nightmare that I would much prefer doing a simple school trip.
Living in Columbus over the summer was constructive because I was able to attend festivals and performances I’d always longed to go to, including Arts Fest, Com Fest, and Angels in America at the Short North Stage. While I struggled this summer, I also matured. I started to recognize my own pride and inadequacy in my internships that I often took for granted during the school year.
My goal is to work as a fundraiser for an arts organization. Working through the STEP bureaucracy, which generously gave me a second chance to submit a second chance proposal when my first was inadequate because I wrote shortly after a concussion, was actually incredibly frustrating. I learned that grantors can force unnecessary and counterproductive busy work, but that I can’t resent that system. All grantmaking processes are fundamentally flawed, and I will have to jump through plenty of loopholes to succeed in my future life. I learned to be more patient– I should not have jumped the gun and used my STEP opportunity early because I thought I might not get another chance to do it. I should have swallowed my pride and asked my parents to help support me during a physically and emotionally draining summer.