Mott summer interns bring diverse skills, perspectives

What do a civil engineering graduate, a psychology student who has conditioned fish to jump through hoops, and a business student who worked as a field researcher in a prison have in common? They all were tapped to complete a summer internship with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Developed in 2016, the paid internship is designed to give students and graduates the chance to interact with those outside of their academic disciplines, while exploring their common interest in public service.

The idea for an internship program was encouraged by a Foundation trustee, who wanted to bring more diversity to the pipeline of future leaders for the philanthropic sector. It was an idea embraced by Mott staff, who are interested in the perspectives of young people about the work of philanthropy.

Over the course of 10 weeks, this year’s interns were able to develop individual projects that helped them gain a better understanding of foundation processes, said Neal Hegarty, vice president of programs at Mott.

The Foundation’s 2018 intern class included:

  • Jack Behm, a sophomore Business Administration major who is minoring in History, Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor;
  • Emma Bostwick, a junior at Michigan State University’s James Madison College double majoring in International Relations and Social Relations & Policy;
  • Dominic Pavone, a junior majoring in Urban & Regional Planning and minoring in Economics at Michigan State University;
  • Rayshawn Riley, a senior at University of Michigan-Flint, who is pursuing a degree in Business Marketing Administration and a minor in Communications;
  • Crystal Schupbach, a junior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Biology at Hillsdale College; and
  • Rose Usnay, a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, who majored in Civil Engineering, minored in Environmental Studies, and returned to the university to pursue graduate studies.

Throughout their internship, the group attended learning sessions led by professionals in the nonprofit and government sectors in Flint, Detroit, Ann Arbor and Lansing.

“For Mott, it’s always been about making sure interns get a sense of what their career options could be,” Hegarty said. “This year we added job-shadowing opportunities to make sure people have more exposure to work in the nonprofit sector.”

“Visiting the Berston Field House helped me see how tight knit some communities are,” Pavone said. “When introducing local economic development activities, I think it’s important to respect the character of the people who live there.”

For Schupbach, the internship “opened her eyes” to a new professional pathway. Exposure to the Crim Fitness Foundation’s positive programs for Flint area children inspired her to pursue a career in school psychology, she said.

Bostwick had the opportunity to travel with the education team to Washington, D.C., where the team met with grantees, an experience she found applicable to her interest in education policy.

Behm spent two “memorable and insightful” days shadowing employees at Mott’s investment office in Troy and Flint Strive, a job training and placement program.

Usnay, who previously had never been to Michigan, enjoyed the opportunity to explore the field of engineering by job-shadowing at Wade Trim, an engineering firm in downtown Flint.

“The engineers gave me advice about choosing whether to go back to finish my master’s classes right now, or to try to get experience and work my way up,” she said.

For Rayshawn Riley, the internship helped to hone in on skills he will need to be successful in a career in philanthropy.

“This summer’s interns jelled well as a group,” Hegarty said. “Their willingness to rely on one another — to collaborate and support each other — not only strengthened their individual and group performance, but helped them acclimate very quickly and get to work.”

The Foundation will begin recruiting the 2019 intern class in early spring. Applicants can learn more about the program at that time by checking www.mott.org/about/careers/.

Editor’s note: This article was written by Communications Intern Crystal Schupbach.

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