Neuro Challenge Capitalizes on Internship Opportunity, and It Pays off Well

Neuro Challenge Capitalizes on Internship Opportunity, and It Pays off Well

Posted on December 13, 2021 by Dr. Sara Grivetti, Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s
Human capital is one of the most coveted resources for an organization to thrive. Currently, finding talent can be a daunting task, often yielding limited results for employers. Finding talent can be even more challenging in the non-profit sector, which is known for its lower wages. One of the best strategies to find qualified candidates is to create internship positions and utilize interns to fill job roles temporarily. This is a mutually beneficial proposition.

At Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson's, we hired an intern to work on a special project in her fall semester. The intern, Avery Crews, is a graduate student at the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. The paid internship was made possible through a grant from The Patterson Foundation. Avery was chosen for the internship because she demonstrated that she had the fortitude to work on a project independently. Since this was going to be remote, this skill was necessary. In addition, she brought program development experience, which correlated well with the project she'd be assigned. She proved to be timely, efficient, and an overall great addition to our team — if only temporary.

The special project was to create a strategic plan for our volunteer program. At Neuro Challenge, we rely on volunteers to fulfill important tasks, but we've never formalized the program with an orientation, role descriptions, or by tracking volunteers' hours. During her internship, Avery conducted staff interviews, an environmental scan, and researched volunteer tracking software options for consideration. Then she wrote a comprehensive strategic plan which she presented to the management team for review and discussion.

Once she presented the strategic plan, her next project was to develop job descriptions for three volunteer positions: General Office Support Volunteer, Program Support Volunteer, and Event Support Volunteer. She approached this project by interviewing key staff who would utilize the volunteers. The final product can be easily uploaded to various volunteer recruitment websites and our own.

We intended to have Avery help develop a framework for new employee orientation. However, the volunteer strategy proved to take longer due to Avery's extensive research devoted to the project. We were more than delighted with the output we received from Avery.

For others interested in hosting an intern, I offer the following advice:
  • It is vital to be flexible during internships and allow students to work the hours that fit their schedules best.

  • Weekly touchpoints are also a key to success, especially since Avery worked remotely.

  • It's essential to ensure that you have meaningful projects, especially ones that fit into a semester.
In closing, we will continue to use interns when we feel we can offer a meaningful experience. The ability to temporarily add to your staff, at no cost as a gift from The Patterson Foundation, is highly recommended.

Comments (1)

  • Cheri Coryea

    Cheri Coryea

    10 January 2022 at 12:50 | #

    This is such an exciting opportunity. I loved reading about the immense success of this internship and the way TPF guided it. Working with Young People keeps us ever evolving in our thought process and provides hope that great minds are on the horizon. Joni, Connor, Sara and Avery thanks for detailing the experience in your blog.


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