Nonprofit Internships Provide Glimpse into Give-Back Careers

November 29, 2011

Kathryn Powell
Kathryn Powell (Class of 2011) participated in an internship program with PICO Florida, a nonprofit that works to ensure that public policy and resources are serving the needs of low- and moderate-income families across the state.


Not all college graduates aspire to be corporate executives. In fact, according to a March 2011 New York Times story, a record number of grads are choosing the nonprofit sector after college. So it’s no surprise that the availability of nonprofit internships at Rollins has kept pace. The Office of Career Services currently has 92 internship positions posted with non-profit organizations, about 26 percent of the total internship listings.    

“In assisting students with their career planning, part of our role as educators is to expose students to the wide variety of career fields available to them, including careers in the non-profit sector,” said Elizabeth Boggs, assistant director of career services. “Internships with non-profit organizations have always been a part of the opportunities we facilitate for students because participating in this type of experience is one of the best ways for a student to learn about career possibilities in the nonprofit industry.”   

Rollins students are regularly hosted at nonprofit organizations such as the Farmworker Association of Florida, Orlando Wetlands Park and the Orange County Regional History Center.  

At the moment, Rachel Kaufman (Class of 2012), a Critical Media and Cultural Studies major, is interning at the Bridges of Light Foundation, an organization providing tutoring for kids in foster care and group homes. “It’s really important to give back,” said Kaufman, who has enjoyed her internship so much that she is seriously considering staying with the non-profit after graduation. “I grew up in a family that provided me with really great opportunities, so I really want to work with families that can't provide those opportunities.”  Kaufman isn’t licking envelopes or answering the telephone; she’s getting an in-depth glimpse into life in the nonprofit world. On any given day she can be found shadowing the cofounder of the organization and helping to plan the organization’s major fundraiser.  “It’s career-building work,” she said. “I’m not a volunteer.”    

This career-building focus is part of career service’s plan. The team works with nonprofit employers who are developing new internship programs or re-structuring existing programs to maximize the benefit for both the student intern and the nonprofit organization. To that end, the Offices of Career Services, Community Engagement and Academic Internships plus the Crummer Career Development Center joined forces to created a workshop. “How to Design a Nonprofit Internship” invited internship providers from the nonprofit sector to learn more about how to effectively recruit students as well as how to develop and maintain a quality internship program.   

“This workshop provided opportunities for nonprofit employers to understand what our students are looking for in an internship,” said Meredith Hein, assistant director of community engagement. “And it also gave them the tools they need to effectively structure their internship so that students gain practical working skills in the nonprofit sector while at the same time ensuring that their interns can make a truly meaningful impact on the nonprofit they choose to work with.”    

“Congruent with our department's aims and goals—to cultivate a community of intellectually curious, socially aware and politically engaged citizens who can both critically read media and cultural texts and produce oral, textual, and mediated arguments—are internship experiences with organizations that serve the community,” said Associate Professor of Critical Media and Cultural Studies Denise Cummings. “We work with Elizabeth Boggs in Career Services in identifying and cultivating a range of opportunities at nonprofits, and, as a result, many new internships for all Rollins students are now available in Jobs for Tars. Moreover, several opportunities at nonprofits are now available due to the work of our majors. Our students identified the organizations and worked with us to establish relationships with such nonprofits as Bridges of Light, The Society for Women's Health Research and Planting Peace.”

Whether they pursue a one-day SPARC event or engage in a semester-long non-profit internship, Rollins students continually gain experiences that not only provide tremendous value to the Central Florida community, but that also help influence their life after graduation.


By Kristen Manieri

Office of Marketing & Communications
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