Early last Spring, I heard about the Summer Immersion Internship Program (SIIP). It was new program being offered by the Experiential Learning Program and I was bored one afternoon and I decided to look into it. There are perks to the program: you work 30 hours a week, for ten weeks, at a non-profit organization in the greater Tacoma area. There is a $3,000 stipend for the program and on-campus housing. As someone potentially interested in non-profits as a future career, I was intrigued. I scrolled through the different internships offered and a few stood out: Pierce County Chamber, the Museum of Glass, and the Tacoma Historical Society. I ended up attending the mandatory information session, applying, and receiving an internship at the Museum of Glass.
Each week, I worked Monday through Thursday, and then attended the SIIP meeting on Friday’s at 12PM. The Friday classes helped guide the internship process, each intern would talk about what happened during their week and then a guest speaker would come in and cover a workplace issue (i.e., office politics, diversity, etc.). Internships can be challenging experiences and having a network of people who are having a similar experience is incredibly valuable. Moreover, I took advantage of the on-campus housing and was able to develop friendships with my housemates.
Another program specific aspect was the mentorship portion. Each intern was given an alumni from UPS as a mentor and was encouraged to meet with them throughout the program. My mentor, Missy, graduated in the late-2000’s and currently works as the Community Outreach Coordinator for The Geneva Foundation. Missy was an amazing mentor and an amazing person and meeting her, finding out about different jobs in non-profits, was an incredibly valuable part of the internship program.
I will be the first to admit that my internship wasn’t perfect. This is not the fault of the Museum of Glass, nor is it my fault. Some things just are. But even when I was making mistakes and spending hours researching different things,* I enjoyed the internship because of the people I worked with. The first week of my internship, my boss was out of town visiting family, and I grew close to the grant writer, Becky Downey, who was incredibly sweet and made sure I always had something to do. Throughout the rest of my internship, we would talk about the British sitcom Doc Martin and where she and her husband went out to dinner the previous night. My first day there the Executive Director invited me into her office to ask me about my interests and to see if there was anything the Museum could do enhance my experience. Throughout my internship, my boss allowed me to shift my tasks to things that interested me more (i.e., no longer procuring items for Red Hot Auction & Gala and instead managing the online event program, creating invitations for smaller events, and working with the graphic designer to create the desired Red Hot invitation aesthetic).
My internship was generically focused on Special Events; however, the primary focus was Red Hot Auction and Gala, which takes place every September and is the Museum’s largest fundraiser. I mainly assisted in the procurement of items and other small tasks, which shifted as my internship continued.
Having an internship and the opportunity to stay in Tacoma over the summer was an amazing experience. I know interns are crowned as “that one person who makes the coffee run” but that was the antithesis of my experience, the antithesis of the experience of my peers. I didn’t always have a great time, but there was something incredibly reassuring about knowing I wasn’t alone.
Applications for the Summer Immersion Internship Program are coming up soon in 2017. Here are some important dates to know:
Mandatory Information Sessions:
- Tuesday, January 31, 12PM
- Wednesday, February 1, 4PM
- Thursday, February 2, 4PM
Application Deadline: Monday, February 20, 8AM
If you have any questions about my experience with the application process or the program, feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*I once spent multiple hours researching where the Museum could rent a floating champagne dress in the greater-Seattle area for the Red Hot Auction & Gala