This summer, I did an internship with the Columbus Foundation for my STEP Signature Project. For this internship, I was placed in a cohort with 14 other college students and we each were paired with a nonprofit that aligned with our interests and potential career goals. As a Creative Writing major, I was paired with The King Arts Complex, a creative arts nonprofit created to provide artistic programming for the people in the community.
There were many first time experiences this summer. Prior to this internship, I had never lived completely on my own. Relying on my mother or the university, I always had my basic needs met without ever having to think twice about it. This internship was a great precursor to seeing what it is like living completely on my own. Every day, I had to wake up at 5:45 AM in order to make breakfast and get prepared for the day. Since I did not have a car, I had to learn how to take the bus to a new area of Columbus. Through this experience, I learned more about how Columbus operates and the interesting things that were always happening in the Columbus community. Along with Columbus, I learned about profession culture and what it means to transition into adulthood. This experience gave me the necessary support to be successful throughout this transition and challenged me to push myself into opportunities that I have never experienced before.
Before having the opportunity to intern at the Columbus Foundation, I never had the opportunity to have a significant role within a nonprofit organization. From the classes I took on nonprofits, I knew that every nonprofit organization was different and had different ways of functioning. However, even with this knowledge, I was still under the impression that nonprofit organizations were underfunded and thereby not in the best conditions. I quickly learned that this assumption was wrong. The first day I walked into The King Arts Complex, I saw a beautiful facility with artwork that was both old and contemporary. Along with this assumption, I thought there was a narrow focus for what nonprofit organizations did. Through professional development opportunities with the Columbus Foundation, I learned that there is versatility in the nonprofit sector and how much you can do with any number of skills and passion. Along with the versatility of the nonprofit sector as a whole, I learned that Columbus is great at having nonprofit organizations work together and build community amongst each other. In terms of artistically, I did not think there were too many art hubs in Columbus but to my surprise, Columbus is a city that thrives on art and artists that work together collectively.
There were many things throughout my experience that led to the transformation that I had. The first of many interactions are the ones that I had within the Columbus Foundation. As a program that brought together a cohort of peers, this opportunity was focused on ensuring that we learned together as a community through professional development. These professional development opportunities included meeting leaders in the Columbus nonprofit sector. This opportunity broadened my perspective on the types of people who enter these spaces and the array of different backgrounds that they come from. A prime example was my supervisor who started his career as a musician and eventually started working in the nonprofit sector full time. Meeting business leaders in the city and learning how they make their organizations run impacted me because it showed how much breadth and depth the Columbus community has in terms of philanthropy.
Within the specific nonprofit that I worked with, I got to learn how difficult and rewarding is it is to work with artistic nonprofits. Working closely with my supervisor at The King Arts Complex, I learned the ins and out of her role and saw what steps make things stay afloat. This was really beneficial to my experience because it allowed me to see the administrative aspect of working in a nonprofit. I also got to see how I operate within leadership settings. Part of my role was to teach kids 10-13 years old how to write poetry and perform. This teaching opportunity showed me that I do have the skill and ability to mentor young people. It also taught me that no matter how young I was compared to everyone else, I was able to be as effective if I absorbed the information presented and applied it well to other situations.
I also learned how impactful community is in making nonprofit organizations run through my interactions and involvement within the Columbus community. Going to events downtown like the concerts at the Columbus Commons allowed me to see different artists in Columbus perform and show their talents. This emphasized the strong artistic relationship among people and how nonprofit organizations help fund the art community and vice versa. The community that was built amongst my cohort was also pivotal in my transformational experience. I got to work and learn with other people who are passionate about what I am doing, some of which who also went to OSU. This taught me the importance of collaborative experiences and community building. Since we all came from different backgrounds and different areas of study, we also learned the importance of diversity within spaces to cultivate the most impactful learning environment.
This experience was extremely instrumental in my understanding in terms of career development. I got to interact with and understand the nonprofit sector to see how I could possibly fit into this space. Although I really loved the nonprofit portion of this opportunity, I actually fell more in love with the artistic side of things. I learned that I want to explore alternative options outside of the nonprofit sector that align more with my love of art as an artist. I was exposed to an array of different art forms that I enjoyed and may possibly want to pursue in the future. After this experience, I changed my minor from Nonprofit Studies to Film Studies because of the passion I have for film and directing which I would not have explored more if it was not for this internship. This internship also led to me being offered a job as a stagehand as a result of my skills that I used at the Final Production at the complex. This job offer proved that I made valuable connections with the art community in Columbus and also outside of it. Overall, I learned what I like and do not like in a work environment but most importantly, I learned how to run fearlessly into my passions. And that was truly transformative.