For my STEP Signature Project, I interned over the summer at the Dayton Foodbank. I worked alongside the Garden Manager in the Foodbank’s urban garden, assisting with the upkeep of the garden and special garden projects. In addition, I collected garden education resources used for school aged children tour groups and co-led pre-school group weekly visits during July and August.

While planning out what I was going to do for my STEP project, I was a bit unsure as to what category I’d want to do. At the same time, I was pursuing an internship at the Dayton Foodbank to gain experience with a non-profit organization. This ended up being a great learning experience. Prior to the internship, I had numerous experiences with non-profit organizations but this summer experience allowed me to get a “behind the scenes” experience with a non-profit.

The whole STEP project was a learning experience for me. One thing I learned is that I am one that really likes to stay busy in terms of work. Additionally, I gained some professional skills as I partook in most of the Foodbank’s brief daily morning office meetings. I learned that when working at a Foodbank, you need to be prepared to wear many hats and always be prepared for something new each day. One thing I learned specific to the Foodbank is that there is more than just providing canned food for those in need. There are many different components to the work those that work there do.

One of the biggest takeaways I had from this experience was the professional experience. I have had a few jobs before this but nothing more than a summer job. The key aspect of my experience that contributed to this was the fact that I pursued this internship on my own and with the help of my supervisor, we created the position. I was able to stay on top of communication during the spring semester prior to the Summer as well as meeting with her to establish when I would start, when I would work, and what my responsibilities would be. Another contribution to this being a valuable professional experience was being able to partake in the office daily morning meetings. The meetings allowed me to hear what each employee was doing for the day and hear of any news.

While working at the Foodbank I solidified my work ethic. I already knew prior to working in the garden that I am a hard worker and feel the need to stay busy. This was relevant in my work because each day was different – meaning there was more to do in the garden one day than another. By experiencing this, I was able to do my best to find other tasks that needed to be done in order to make use of my time and stay busy.

Coming into this STEP project experience, I had various experiences working with different non-profits. Until this summer internship, I was not able to do much more than regularly volunteer or volunteer a few times with a non-profit so this experience opened my eyes to the vast number of events and programs a Foodbank is responsible for. As my supervisor said best, you need to be prepared to wear many hats when working at a Foodbank because each day can bring something new and opportunities to step up show themselves.

This STEP experience is valuable for my life because I am currently deciding what direction I would like to take as I am majoring in Public Health. I am a fairly new student in the major and have an interest in various paths, non-profit organizations, being one of them. The experience allowed me to dip my toes in the water of working at a Foodbank while seeing some of the behind the scenes action taking place. The experience will also be a good one to carry forward as I take my experiences to seek another potential summer internship or further down the road in my career.

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