Six students who served internships in the nonprofit sector gained additional insight into the inner workings of nonprofit organizations through the Leadership Development Program.
The program, which is supported by a three-year, $12,000 gift from KNBT, provided a weekly speaker from a local nonprofit, followed by an interactive roundtable program, for five weeks over the summer. Participants learned about resource development, volunteer and financial management, developing and working with boards of directors, strategic planning, leadership styles, fundraising, corporate social responsibility, and effective communication skills.
“The opportunity to meet face-to-face with professionals, learn from their experiences, and ask questions in a small setting is always eye-opening for students,” says Molly Sunderlin, assistant director of career services. “When they are able to learn about the specifics of a position, or an initiative within an organization, it makes it real to them. This is all part of the process of career exploration, where students are able to learn in-depth about opportunities and consider possibilities for themselves in the future.”
American studies major Julia Guarch ’15 (Milltown, N.J.) learned a lot about nonprofits as well as herself through series workshops. She interned with the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, a science-based organization that combines science, art, and community dialogue to address environmental issues. Guarch cataloged and organized a collection of fine art prints, programmed various workshops, and hung juried and community exhibits.
Her favorite workshop session was led by Guillermo Lopez of Easton’s Weed & Seed anti-crime initiative, who offered tips on communicating with groups and cultivating relationships among volunteers and with the community. Guarch also learned about her own communication style during a “leadership compass” workshop led by Bonnie Winfield, director of the Landis Community Outreach Center. Through workshop exercises, she found that she has strong empathy and vision but needs to work on approaching problems more analytically.
“After joining the leadership program, I realized that as long as you have a will and the passion, anyone can make a difference,” says Guarch. “I want to be an advocate for change.”
Unlike Guarch, neuroscience major Gregory Troutman ’13 (Columbia, Pa.) was a little skeptical about nonprofits when he started his internship as a research scholar in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Lehigh Valley Hospital. There, he completed a retrospective study on aortic valve replacement patients to determine how risk factors affect their long-term outcomes.
The experience and the variety of speakers who visited campus through the leadership series, such as the American Red Cross and the Allentown Rescue Mission, expanded his perspective on nonprofits.
“Nonprofits come in all shapes and sizes,” says Troutman, who now plans to attend medical school and practice community medicine. “The workshops went above and beyond simply explaining the ways nonprofits function. These professionals gave us insight into the skill sets that have allowed them and their organizations to thrive.”
Other participating students in the summer program included civil engineering major Rebecca Citrin ’14 (Springfield, N.J), psychology major Katie Graziano ’15 (Easton, Pa.), anthropology & sociology and global communities & the environment double major Tatiana Logan ’13 (Santa Barbara, Calif.), and anthropology & sociology and Spanish double major Chelsea Marone ’13 (Boonton Township, N.J.). Career services enlisted Kristin Tuttle ’13 as an intern to help organize the program and handle the logistics of hosting speakers on campus.