Mott interns build skills while exploring nonprofit career options

Mott's 2017 intern cohort pose in a line in front of a brick building.
Mott’s 2017 intern class (left to right): Anna Vicari, Ryan Madar, Sydnie Switzer, Anna Eby, Matthew St. Germain, Andrea Pugh, MoNeka Young and Katlyn Koegel. Photo: Cristina Wright

Six undergraduate and two graduate students from a variety of academic backgrounds finished up a busy 10 weeks with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation as part of an annual summer internship program designed to introduce talented young people to the field of philanthropy.

“We always look forward to working with our summer interns. It’s an exercise that’s well worth the effort,” said Neal Hegarty, vice president of programs at Mott, of the internship experience. “We’ve designed the experience to give students an opportunity to explore a potential career with philanthropy or the nonprofit sector, but no matter where their careers take them, we hope the internship opens their eyes to the importance of voluntary service in their communities.”

This year’s undergraduate students included:

  • MoNeka Young, a senior at Spellman College majoring in economics, who worked with the Flint Area program.
  • Katlyn Koegel, an international studies major from Hope College, who is currently in her senior year. Katlyn interned with the Education team.
  • Anna Vicari, a senior at the University of Michigan-Flint majoring in communication, who was assigned to the Communications team.
  • Sydnie Switzer, a senior at Lake Forrest majoring in studio art, who also interned with the Communications team.
  • Ryan Madar, a senior computer science major at the University of Michigan-Flint, who also works as a co-op student for the Foundation’s Information Technology team.
  • Anna Eby, a senior at Hillsdale College majoring in financial management, who interned with the Investment Team in Troy, Michigan.

The graduate students included:

  • Andrea Pugh, a second-year master’s student at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, studying Environmental Science. Andrea worked with the Environment program.
  • Matthew St. Germain, who interned with the Civil Society team. Matthew is a second-year master’s student at Michigan State University studying Communication.

Weekly learning sessions with nonprofit, philanthropic and government leaders took place throughout the summer, giving the interns an opportunity to acquaint themselves with different career sectors.  Providing information and exposure to fields ranging from nonprofit law to volunteerism, the sessions also helped them learn more about the complexities and challenges of the work.

“One thing I’ll take away from this experience is the amount of time and effort policy involves and how complicated the process is. You may be committed to something that takes 10 years to unfold, so it requires more than just passion, it takes follow-through” said Katlyn Koegel of her internship experience.

Sydnie Switzer, one of two interns working with the Foundation’s Communications team, was grateful not only for the opportunity to build her photo portfolio, but appreciative of the chance to work in a professional situation.

“As an intern, my ideas were valued and the time and skillset that I brought to the table were valued too. The internship gave me confidence in the workplace,” she said.

A common goal of contributing to the Flint community was a uniting factor among this year’s interns.

“This experience was a great alignment for me because I want to serve a community that I know has good people in it,” said MoNeka Young, a Flint native who worked with the Foundation’s Flint-area grantmaking team. Andrea Pugh, the Environment team’s intern, also is eager to contribute to the revitalization of post-industrial cities like Flint, noting that her internship “has let me tap into that.”

The Mott summer internship program was initiated in 2016. In addition to offering practical work experience in a professional office setting, the paid internship includes group and individual site visits to acquaint interns with the work of various nonprofit and government organizations.