STEP Reflection

Name: Olivia Adkins

Type of Project: Internship

1. My STEP Signature Project was to participate in the Columbus Foundation Summer Fellowship Program. This program pairs selected interns with a local nonprofit in the Columbus area and entails learning sessions to encourage innovation in the nonprofit sector. I was placed at Ohio Wildlife Center, a wildlife hospital, rehabilitation center and education center working in the administrative department.

2. My understanding of the nonprofit sector was transformed during my STEP Signature Project. As a Public Management, Leadership and Policy major, I know that I one day hope to work in the public or nonprofit sector. I had had several nonprofit experiences before but never one so immersive into the nitty gritty of the daily operations of a nonprofit. Throughout my experience, I came to realize that in the nonprofit sector you may have one title or project, but you ultimately wear many different hats at once.

Every day was different, filled with new challenges. As a Type A control freak, I originally found this to be frustrating and overwhelming. I wanted rigidity and structure, but that traditional sense of organization is often not present in the busy and chaotic world of nonprofits. By the end of the summer, I learned how to truly go with the flow, learning and growing as I went. We often want to plan every detail of every second of every day, but when that plan goes interrupted we fly completely off course. This wearing of many hats allowed me to thrive in ambiguity and understand the potential of the unknown.

3. During my STEP Signature Project, I formed an incredible working relationship with my supervisor, Logan Oates. He came to each day excited and ready to help. While he has his own fires to deal with, he often spent much of everyday putting on a different hat and putting out fires for anyone else who needed it. His compassion for others and love for the work inspired me to focus less on my own issues and all consuming stress, and use that energy for the benefit of others.

Logan would give little gifts to his coworkers, ask them if they needed help with anything, go rescue injured animals, and millions of other things not in his job description. Working in the nonprofit sector or truly any job you are passionate about, means going up and beyond every single day.

I realized that in the nonprofit sector, these people not only care about their organization’s mission or cause but also each other. I call this caring with a capital C. My coworkers were so open to putting their own agendas on hold in order to help out someone else, a different environment than I’ve ever seen in the private sector where it’s often every man for himself. This immense caring energy called my attention to not only how I treat my coworkers but also human beings in general.

These relationships I formed have helped me to realize the importance of workplace culture as well. This is a value I will carry with me into my future roles as an employee, manager and beyond. The necessity to value every human being (and animal) belongs not only in the workplace but also in my day to day life as a student, roommate, friend, daughter, etc.

4. During this internship, I realized that my true passion lies in policy. That I want to make it or influence it or define it in some way, shape or form. While my future may not lie in an animal mission related nonprofit, this sense of intentionality in caring for others will serve well in the policy realm as well. We all need to care more, especially in terms of public policy.

My intent is to carry on the tradition of Logan Oates, notice more, give more, be more. Spend less time on my own self-serving missions and more time adding to the success of others because he has shown me that that can be even more rewarding. I will forever be grateful for my summer in the wild and the life lessons learned alongside some skunks, coyotes, snakes, birds, owls, foxes and butterflies.

Here is a link to my weekly blog posts for the Columbus Foundation:

https://tcfsummerfellows.wordpress.com/author/oliviamadkins/