Nonprofit Internships Return Big Value

Interning in the nonprofit field is a great way to contribute to a positive cause and get valuable experience to boost your career. Having interned several times in the publishing world, I turned to Kristy Williams and Gillian Labonte, both currently interning in the nonprofit sector, to find out what it is like to intern for a non-profit organization.

Kristy Williams is a recent graduate of Humber College’s Fundraising and Volunteer Management post-grad program and is interning for The Alzheimer Society of Ontario. Gillian Labonte is a graduate of the University of Waterloo. She is currently interning with Free The Children in Toronto.

Do you think you have more responsibility because you are working for a nonprofit?

Gill: Definitely. The organization is very young and I think this plays a huge role in the fact that I am not treated like an intern and instead I am given tasks that I am responsible and accountable for.

Kristy: I am trusted to do more than I anticipated. I complete research and proposals for funding,  work with social media, and help with special events. I have my own projects to complete. The not-for-profit sector is highly reliant on volunteers, and therefore understands the value and capabilities of volunteers and interns.

Are you treated like other members on your work team?

Gill: I feel like I am treated as an equal to anyone else on my team, which is something that I didn’t expect as a new graduate. A lot of people that I have explained my job to are always surprised I get to do “real” things that have actual importance in the organization. After working here for over 2 months now, I can officially say I am the go to person for some important parts of getting tasks accomplished, which is super great!

Is there potential to get hired?

Gill: Totally!

Kristy: Yes. Throughout the program’s history (at Humber), many are employed after, or at least use the contact and direct experience to land a job soon after.

What is the working environment like? (i.e. as opposed to your other jobs at that weren’t non-profit)

Gill: It is truly like a family here. I think that is something unique to non profit organizations because everyone is here for reasons other than bringing home a paycheck. Everyone has a story of why they do the job they do and it is so interesting! From the moment I started I not only felt like I was valued but also that I became a part of their family. In my interview with my current director, she gave me a hug just as the interview was over, something that was so weird to me but also reassuring that this would be a place that I would love.

Kristy: In most not-for-profit organizations the goal is to help people! Consequently, I find there to be more collaboration within a not-for -profit setting. There is also passion in the workplace!

Nonprovit vs. For Profit Internships

Nonprofit organizations hire interns and staff from many different areas and specialties from event planning to finance management. While the lure of big business names is appealing,  although a nonprofit might not be as well know in the business world, it is more likely that you will be given real responsibilities and projects that will give you the interview material you need to make your next career move.

In addition, unlike large corporations which often require you to climb through a maze to initiate a new project or assist another depatment, interning for a nonprofit is more likely to give you the opportunity and flexibility to take initiative and experience different departments.

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  1. Posted July 31, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Nicole, a terrific piece. Interning at a nonprofit will definitely get you some great experience, and often great mentorship as well. I would just like to add that many small businesses and startups also offer great high-quality internship experiences.

    Matthew Forrest
    Social Media Marketing Intern, YouTern

  2. Posted August 2, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Matthew!

    After talking to Kristy & Gill, I agree that mentorship is probably the best part about a non-profit internship. Employees at nonprofits are dedicated beyond the 9-5 which shows in their relationships at learning outcomes at work.

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