This blog post was contributed by Kyla Tucker, an IEI summer intern and rising Senior at Wake Forest University.
I searched the web for summer internships; results appeared. I clicked one. As I browsed through the job description and looked for the compensation, I read the word “unpaid” – an all too frequent phrase for non-profit internships.
As a student financially supporting myself through college I could not take an unpaid position for the summer. Many opportunities that I found could have been a perfect match but given my financial situation, they were not feasible. I wanted the experience of working in a nonprofit; I wanted the chance to explore the sector in hopes of finding a career within it one day, but I was discouraged.
I was still trying to decide what to do with my summer when I received an email from the scholarship office at my university with information about a funded nonprofit internship through the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation invests in numerous organizations across North Carolina who are dedicated to building an inclusive and sustainable state. Their mission is to, “improve the quality of life for all North Carolinians.” In an effort to construct a better community, and to support the education and future employment of students, the foundation established a program for college students interested in philanthropy, public policy, community service and/or the nonprofit sector.
Every summer since its establishment in 2011, the ZSR Non-Profit Internship Program (NPIP) awards dozens of enrolled university students, who come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, with paid internships. The internship is an eight week long program with both opening and closing orientations to help students succeed in the workplace and carry their new experiences with them into future endeavors. Program participants intern with ZSR grantee organizations that are working to advance the values of the ZSR Foundation which include Community Economic Development, Public Education, Social Justice & Equity, Environment, and/or Strengthening Democracy. Students have a large and diverse group of organizations to choose from with numerous opportunities for exposure and skill-building. Once accepted into the NPIP program, students apply and interview for internships at participating organizations.
I made the decision to apply to the Institute of Emerging Issues. The IEI internship opportunity appealed to me because it offered a flexible position that served both the needs of the intern and the organization. Additionally, IEI offered a plethora of professional development opportunities and the ability to explore the many facets of working in a nonprofit. After my interview and conversation with the Education Policy Manager, Kendall Hageman, I was fortunate enough to accept an offer as IEI’s summer intern.
In my time here at IEI, I have been able to participate in a large variety of activities, namely the Summer in the Commons Youth Engagement program. Through this program, we engage elementary, middle and high school students through interactive technology in the IEI Commons. The goal of this program is to encourage youth civic engagement and spark interest in the issues facing our state.
In addition to my day-to-day work, the staff at IEI has given me countless connections and options for professional development, job shadowing and informational interviews. They have encouraged and fostered professional growth in both myself and other interns here at IEI.
I’d like to thank the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the Institute for Emerging Issues for working so diligently to provide students, like myself, the opportunity to pursue our desired career path, to work towards making our communities more fruitful and sustainable and to making youth engagement a possibility and a priority.
About the Author
Kyla Tucker is a rising senior at Wake Forest University with a major in Psychology and a minor in Dance. Throughout her time at Wake Forest she has been involved with the Volunteer Service Corps, Student Government, Dance Company and CHARGE, a leadership development program. She studied abroad in Venice, Italy and Vienna, Austria for the past year. During her senior year she will work as a Resident Advisor for Wake Forest while finishing up her education with the hopes of attending graduate school in the future.
Interested in learning more about the Z. Smith Reynolds Non-Profit Internship Program and other youth internship and leadership programs? Check out the links below:
Z. Smith Reynolds Non-Profit Internship Program – Paid non-profit internship for NC college students.
Marian Drane Graham Scholars Program – A six-week immersive and experiential summer program designed to provide students the opportunity to develop leadership skills and gain a better understanding of key issues facing public higher education. The program is open to rising juniors and seniors attending one of the sixteen constituent institutions of higher education in the University of North Carolina.
Wake Forest University Summer Nonprofit Immersion – Summer immersion program that brings together undergraduates at Wake Forest University with community partners to enhance both the learning of the student and the capacity of the nonprofit partner.
The NC Community Development Initiative Youth Leadership Program – The program places rising high school seniors in paid internships with high-performing community organizations around the state.
NC Center for Non-Profits Career Listings – NC Nonprofit Careers is a one-stop site for nonprofit employers, job seekers, and individuals looking for internship opportunities.