For many nonprofits, interns are worth their weight in gold. They increase capacity, provide new perspectives, and hopefully become the next generation of environmental leaders. On February 29th, the Watershed Institute hosted a workshop to uncover how nonprofits can more effectively find and manage interns for maximum impact.
The session began with presentations and a moderated discussion by a panel of internship experts: Dr. Alicia Monroe, Assistant Director of the Office of Career Advancement at Rowan University; Debra Kelly, Director of the Career Center at TCNJ; and Laura Szwak, Director of Education and Outreach (and intern coordinator extraordinaire) at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. Copies of their PowerPoint presentations and the resources they handed out are provided through the links below. Then the event became a lively roundtable discussion between the panelists and attendees, covering topics like funded vs. non-funded internships, organizational on-boarding for new interns, in-house vs. remote working, and strategies for encouraging other members of your organization to become intern supervisors.
Some of the key takeaways for attendees included:
- Internship job descriptions are a must, and should include components like learning outcomes and project goals in addition to desired qualifications, hours per week, start/end date, and whether the work is paid or for credit only.
- If you can’t afford to pay an intern, look for a college program that requires internship credits. But keep in mind scheduling issues (summer interns may have to pay extra for those credits) and workload on top of school work.
- Gaining exposure at local universities can be as simple as partnering with other nonprofit organizations to host a table together at internship or career fairs.
- When thinking of how to utilize interns, look for projects that, without an extra hand, might not get done. And try to focus on tasks that the intern might be able to see through from beginning to end, or at least tasks where they can see the impact of their contributions.
- Having an Executive Director or other organizational leadership actively encourage staff to take on the role of supervising interns can go a long way toward actually making it happen.
- Where possible, sharing interns with another similar organization can be a great way to split costs and provide the intern with a full and meaningful workload.
We extend our sincere gratitude to our wonderful panelists and to our active and engaged attendees! Below you’ll find contact information for the presenters as well as links to materials from the workshop. If you have any questions or suggestions for future workshops, please don’t hesitate to contact the Institute Coordinator.
Dr. Alicia Monroe, Career Management Center Assistant Director @ Rowan University
firstname.lastname@example.org | 856.256.4284
Debra Kelly, Career Center Director @ TCNJ
email@example.com | 609.771.2161
Laura Szwak, Director of Education and Outreach @ New Jersey Conservation Foundation
firstname.lastname@example.org | 908.997.0720
Dr. Alicia Monroe (Rowan) Presentation
Debra Kelly (TCNJ) Presentation
Laura Szwak (NJCF) Presentation
15 Internship Program Best Practices from Rowan University
The College Enhancement Internship Program Manual from TCNJ
Rowan University CHSS Match Internship Program Brochure
Rowan University Prof Jobs (Careers Beyond Campus)