Lasting Lessons

I can’t believe it’s time for this post already, but 10 weeks later I am (almost) finished with my position as a Marketing and Communications intern at the Ronald McDonald House. To say that I have learned a lot would be an understatement. I wanted to take some time in this final post to share a few of the most important lessons that I’ve learned this summer.

One thing that I observed to be true time and time again is that employees of non-profit organizations wear “many different hats”. Job descriptions are not set in stone, and roles are much more fluid than in a corporate setting. There is so much to be done, and with generally small staff teams, these people have to be willing to do it all. I have really enjoyed this aspect of working here because every day presents a new challenge. From data analyzation to driving a golf cart to turning the playground in the backyard into a castle, nothing is monotonous or boring.

Another major lesson that I’ve learned this summer is the importance of balance in this kind of work. Non-profit organizations are taking on BIG problems with limited resources. It is remarkable how much they can do, but the issues that they address are huge and complicated and cannot be solved in a day. With that being said, it’s so easy to let my empathetic side take over and to see all of the people still hurting and all of the things that are still not fixed. This makes me feel discouraged that the work that I’m doing is only a drop in the bucket. Countless speakers have reiterated to me this summer that it’s important to celebrate the small victories and not to overlook all of the little steps that play a role in big solutions, and to practice self-care to protect yourself against burnout. These are bits of wisdom that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my career.

Finally, through my day to day interactions at RMHC and the many lessons I’ve gained from the Columbus Foundation, I’ve learned that there are three major ingredients that contribute to success in the non-profit world. These are 1) dedicated, mission oriented staff, 2) community support (both financial and otherwise), and 3) reliable volunteers. It would be a huge oversimplification to say that these are the only ingredients a non-profit will ever need to succeed, but if the organization has these three things, it will have a solid foundation to build and grow on.

It feels so strange transitioning from being a full time intern at RMHC back to being a full time student, but luckily my time at RMHC is not finished. I look forward to continuing as a volunteer throughout the school year and gaining an additional non-profit experience as an intern in the Development department. I’m really excited to take on this new position and to stay connected to such an amazing organization that I have come to love in just a few short months. I also hope that this new position will help me to continue to learn more about myself, my skills, and my passions as it relates to potential career opportunities.

Thanks for reading!! And thanks to the Columbus Foundation for putting together such an incredible fellowship program. Paid internships in the non-profit sector are difficult to find, let alone fellowships that also include impactful professional development opportunities and connections to such a valuable network. This opportunity has been a blessing in so many ways. I have truly enjoyed getting to know the other fellows and hearing from some outstanding community leaders in Columbus. The wisdom that they’ve shared with us makes me excited for my own career possibilities, and I know that I will take these lessons with me in whatever lies ahead.

-Courtney

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