Involve Me and I Learn

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” What Benjamin Franklin was describing is what we now call experiential learning. Today marks my last day as Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s PR & Marketing intern. Through my internship this summer, I was able to put the skills I learned in school to practical use, learning far more from this hands-on experience than I ever could get from a classroom. I built a strong portfolio, gained tremendous field experience and made many new professional connections and friends.

One thing most friends and coworkers know about me is my extreme tendency to make lists. At any given point this summer, my desk was littered with five or more to-do lists on various scraps of paper or in my beloved notebook.

That being said, I think you can guess how I decided to compile my summer reflection blog.

What I loved about Grand Rapids Community Foundation:

  • Their active commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Their willingness to tackle knotty community issues
  • Their strong female leadership
  • Their commitment to education, especially through the Challenge Scholars program
  • Their ability to have fun in the workplace

My most memorable projects:

  • Scholarship project- I selected four of our more than 600 scholarship recipients, coordinated a photoshoot with photographer Bryan Esler and interviewed them about their career aspirations. Reading through dozens of thank you letters was emotional. Hearing the excitement in the students’ voices when I explained the project was gratifying. Learning about their experiences and big career goals was so rewarding.
  • Social media campaigns- I conducted one about grants we’ve given to local organizations, one about Challenge Scholars Kick-Off Camp and one about our scholarship-winning students.This growth meant a lot to me because social media is such a key component of brand management. It’s often the face of an organization. Growing our Instagram account by 300+ followers is a huge sense of pride for me because that is 300 more people seeing our messages and 300 more opportunities to find new donors and supporters.

What I loved about our office:

  • The building’s history- Did you know this building used to be an Anheuser-Busch Icehouse? The loft we eat lunch in every day even held hay for horses.
  • Dog-friendly environment- I’m looking at you, Max and Lucy!
  • Leftover food from meetings
  • Monthly birthday parties and summer grilling in the alley
  • My coworkers- Everyone welcomed me in like one of them and always made sure to say hi when walking past my desk.

Finally, my advice to future interns:

  • Ask enough questions – Make sure you know enough to get the job done right the first time. Just don’t ask how to do simple tasks, that’s what Google is for!
  • Manage your time well – The quicker you finish a project (assuming you still did it well), the quicker you’ll be assigned new tasks.
  • Adopt new skills –Watch videos or other tutorials in your down time. I learned a lot about Adobe Creative Cloud and even some basic coding!
  • Learn by osmosis – One of my college professors has this saying: “Know your work, know your industry and know your world.” Thankfully, my boss Roberta fully agrees with this sentiment. She encouraged me to spend my free time absorbing as much writing and social media strategies as possible.
  • A good attitude doesn’t go unnoticed – Everyone likes a smiley, positive intern!

I’m grateful for the good people of Grand Rapids Community Foundation for accepting me, encouraging me and supporting me this summer. It has been an honor to work alongside passionate individuals working hard for the betterment of our community.