By: Renee Radzom, DePaul University graduate, former University Internship Program (UIP) assistant

Gettin’ real with Director of Development and Communications Carolyn Nopar of Family Focus. In this employer spotlight post, get an inside look at what it would be like to intern with a small nonprofit organization.


When looking for potential interns, Family Focus Director of Development and Communications Carolyn Nopar has a lot of useful tips for students. Carolyn believes being prepared is a great step in the interview process and suggests:

“As hard as it is, have practice interviews with someone before your actual interview. Ideally this is someone at the career department and someone you don’t know well. Doing so will allow you to have feedback on how well you communicate before an actual job interview.”

Carolyn is really looking for students with stories that illustrate how they have added value toward something. It can be a school project, a past job experience, or a volunteer position. Be prepared to discuss how you identified a problem, the steps you took to solve it and the end result.

Let’s back up. Carolyn’s organization, Family Focus, is a small nonprofit organization dedicated to helping low-income, Chicago-area families give their children a bright start in their lives. Carolyn oversees the communications and development department of the nonprofit, which has a wide variety of projects and tasks for interns. In a typical day at Family Focus, Carolyn says interns will help with the overall flow of the department and the internship is constantly being adjusted to fit the growing needs of the organization.

Carolyn really focuses on the “ability for anyone to multitask,” saying it “is a crucial skill in today’s job market.” However, Carolyn still wants the intern to be able to put some energy on a single project, and gives the example of an intern who created and implemented their entire “Giving Tuesday” campaign that ran in December 2014. Another project involved a student working on outreach to Family Focus alumni through social media. While both projects are for nonprofits, the skills learned are transferable to the for-profit sector.

The ability for anyone to multitask…is a crucial skill in today’s job market.

Regarding communications, Carolyn emphasizes that things change quickly and an intern needs to be able to respond to changing priorities:

“Because we are a small organization, we have a lot of flexibility and are actively seeking input. If an intern comes to me with an idea for a project they would like to work on, we can usually accommodate it.”

Carolyn sees opportunities to work for small nonprofits or other organizations, like Family Focus, as a great start to building your resume and gaining work experience for the career you’re looking for down the road.

Carolyn encourages students to check out family-focus.org if they are interested in working with the organization.


Inspired and interested in finding a job or internship in the nonprofit sector? Check out Handshake for new career listings!