By: Liz McKie
Hey there everyone! My name is Liz McKie and I am fortunate enough to have snagged the spot of Exxon Mobil Community Summer Jobs Program Intern at Thrive DC for the summer of 2012 (and yes, I realize that’s a serious mouthful to say but the program has been worth every syllable!). Every summer, Exxon Mobil gives a number of specially chosen nonprofit organizations a stipend to hire a full time summer intern for two months. Sadly, I am at the end of my two month internship with Thrive DC but the time I’ve spent working here as a intern has been an amazing experience not only to peek into the inner workings of a nonprofit but also as experience working within a leading nonprofit organization in the Washington, DC area.
I had been volunteering for Thrive DC through their service learning program, and later independently, for roughly a year before I applied for the Exxon Mobil internship. I have always admired and supported the Thrive DC mission to provide “support and resources to lead a fulfilling and stable life free of homelessness”. This was obviously a major reason why I chose to volunteer at Thrive DC for so long, but another major reason why I decided to apply for the summer internship was the amazing and genuinely caring staff. Not only do they care about each and every community member but they also care about their volunteers. All of these factors encouraged my decision to apply for and eventually accept the Exxon Mobil Summer Internship at Thrive DC, and I am more than happy I did!
My time at Thrive DC has been an in depth picture of the operation of a local nonprofit. Volunteering gave me a look into how the organization fulfills it’s mission, but working a full week with the staff opened up my eyes to all the background effort and decision making that has to be done every day to maintain and advance the organization’s mission. I began as a volunteer helping out at the women’s dinner program but as an intern I was entrusted with many more responsibilities. As an intern I work with the breakfast program, help out with activities such as art group, help with the employment services offered at Thrive DC, and continue working in the dinner program. Also, being a nonprofit, there is a lot of work that is spur of the moment and I was given the responsibility to manage some of those immediate tasks. Being involved in multiple different parts of the organization allowed me to see the thought process that goes into creating and maintaining the great services that Thrive DC provides to the community. I saw first hand the extensive hard work and collaboration that every staff member contributes to the Thrive DC team. And in the end, the support of the staff and the responsibility entrusted to me gave me the confidence and knowledge required to complete jobs and tasks on my own. I became comfortable in taking a leadership role and completing tasks when the opportunity presented itself. It is because of the Thrive DC community and staff that, with their encouragement, guidance, and friendship, I learned so much about the daily operations of nonprofits and have felt that I have the acquired some of the skills necessary to continue a career in the nonprofit sector.
Since 6th grade I have imagined working at a nonprofit organization when I grow up. This summer, for the first time, I was able to experience what it is like working at a nonprofit full time. I can sincerely say that this experience has only fueled my desire to continue on the path of a nonprofit career and the individuals I have worked with at Thrive DC have taught me more than I could have ever hoped for. I will continue to be a proud part of the Thrive DC community for a long time to come.