In May of 2016, Jill graduated from NIU with a major in Community Leadership and Civic Engagement and completed a certificate in Social Entrepreneurship. Jill participated in the Internship Program three times where she served multiple organizations including the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association and the Kishwaukee Family YMCA. During her internships, Jill performed a variety of roles such as the Grant and Funding Intern, Social Media and Marketing Intern and the Youth Development Intern.
Q: What was the biggest benefit and/or the coolest part of your internship experience?
Jill: The biggest benefit of the internship program is the “real life” experience with nonprofit organizations. Being able to work in a nonprofit gives you a chance to learn skills that you might not be able to learn in a classroom setting. Another great part of my internship experience was being able to network and form relationships with many nonprofit professionals. I have been able to maintain a connection with these individuals and use them as resources in my post-undergrad work.
Q: In your opinion, why should students pursue internship opportunities?
Jill: Students should pursue these internship opportunities because they give hands-on experience and it helps to have some familiarity when looking for careers after graduation. When future nonprofit employers look at your resume, and see that you already have experiences working with a nonprofit organization, it may give you an advantage over other candidates. Also, if you are unsure about where you would fit in the nonprofit sector, these internships are a really great way to help guide you in the right direction.
Q: What are you up to now?
Jill: I served as a Project Development AmeriCorps VISTA with DuPage Habitat for Humanity and am now their Community Engagement Coordinator. I focus on our Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which works to increase the quality of life in a neighborhood based on feedback from the residents. To gain this feedback we are in the process of collecting baseline survey data to gauge where the community is at and what their needs are. In addition, we engage residents in monthly resident’s meetings to help them take ownership of the projects that are going on in their neighborhood. I also communicate with the local businesses and community organizations who are a part of our Neighborhood Revitalization Coalition. By working to increase the quality of life in this neighborhood, we hope to help create sustainable programs to help this neighborhood become more connected to each other and the resources around them. I will also be working with our partner families as they move through our affordable housing program and with the volunteer committees that oversee these programs.
Q: Please share any additional comments you have about the internship program.
Jill: There are not enough words to thank the Roberts Family Foundation for their generosity with the Internship Program. Due to their kindness, I was able to participate in the program for three semesters. The experience that I gained through these internships not only helped shape what I want to do as a nonprofit professional, but also gave me invaluable experience that I have been able to use in my career.