Get Real With: Family Focus Nonprofit

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!

DePaul Diaries: Life as an LGBTQ Youth Services Intern

By: Sean Nasi, DePaul University digital cinema major ’15

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.


Brandon Jordan, a DePaul sociology major, calls his experience as a drop-in intern at the Howard Brown – Broadway Youth Center (BYC) one of the best experiences. The BYC provides support to at-risk LGBTQ youth in Chicago, something Brandon has always been particularly passionate about. He applied to the position after seeing an advertisement at a local hospital and soon found himself assisting homeless LGBTQ youth, organizing clothing donations, and administering hygiene kits for those in need.

“It’s always different,” Brandon said about his internship, “you have to stay on your toes because things change daily and there are always new youth.”

Brandon’s internship experience allowed him to learn about various nonprofit resources throughout the city and how to conduct oneself in a professional environment. However, Brandon believes “what made this internship special is that it’s family first and business second.” The family environment at BYC helps the youth feel comfortable with the organization:

“Some of the youth that we work with are homeless, and some have homes, but need a place to visit to just take a break. And being able to see them come in and relax, smile, and dance makes it all worthwhile,” Brandon said.

Brandon also learned the value of trust and camaraderie during his time at the internship:

“When I first started my internship, I was not the type to love hugs; I would normally just high-five or shake hands,” Brandon said, “but working in this environment has made me understand that sometimes people could use a hug because we don’t know what their day was like before they walked through those doors, so hugging people is something that I’ve become accustomed to.”

The biggest impact this experience has left on Brandon is not learning what he can do to be happy and successful, but how he can help another person be happy and successful.

“This internship has really helped me expand on what it means to be diverse,” Brandon said. “DePaul has given me the opportunity to really grasp diversity…And walking into my internship I was able to put that skill to use and further develop it.”


Want to learn about DePaul’s University Internship Program? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to UIP@depaul.edu. Need help finding an internship? Visit depaul.joinhandshake.com, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.

DePaul Diaries: Life as a Chemistry Intern

By: Sean Nasi, DePaul University digital cinema major ’15

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.


Quinn Pazderka, DePaul biology major, received the opportunity to apply his skills during an internship with Vantage Oleochemicals. This past summer at the Vantage internship, which Quinn found through networking with a professional in his industry, Quinn was tasked with assisting the quality control chemists with their daily responsibilities.

“This internship was special because it was so immersive,” Quinn said. “I was thrown into their working environment and taught how to basically do everything the quality control chemists did every day.”

At Vantage, Quinn tested various shipments of incoming and outgoing chemicals, such as oleic acid, stearic acid, and glycerin, to ensure that all chemicals matched the company’s safety protocols. As such, Quinn played an important role in promoting and ensuring a positive work environment. To do this, Quinn had to take initiative at his company.

“I learned how to work on my own and to solve certain problems without being asked to or told what to do,” Quinn said. His internship at Vantage taught him valuable leadership skills that will be useful in the future.

Quinn looks back on his internship with fond memories. Not only did he learn several practical experiments, but the internship also got him comfortable with the type of work environment in which he wishes to work in the future.

“My favorite part about the internship was learning how concepts from chemistry could be applied to real world situations,” Quinn said. “I would advise a future intern to simply come prepared to learn and work hard. You’re going to have to prove that you were worth the company’s investment.”


Want to learn about DePaul’s University Internship Program? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to UIP@depaul.edu. Need help finding an internship? Visit depaul.joinhandshake.com, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.

DePaul Diaries: Life as an SEO Intern

By: Sean Nasi, DePaul University digital cinema major ’15

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.


As a search engine optimization intern at Evolving Interactive, no day was ordinary for Kayla Waisath, DePaul psychology and marketing major.

“One day I could be writing guest blog posts, submitting to local directories, auditing a client’s website, or doing competitor research. I like that every day is not like the last. It definitely helps to keep me interested in my work,” Kayla explained.

Kayla enjoyed the environment that came with working for a small company. She attributes the organization’s size as one of the biggest factors of their successful internship program, as it helped her get to know and network with her coworkers.

“Everyone wears what they want and the environment is fun,” Kayla said. “You don’t see as much division between interns and the CEO’s, which helps to make everyone feel very comfortable.” Sometimes, her supervisors would even bring their dogs to work, a unique perk that Kayla personally enjoyed.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.27.38 AM

Because the organization was so small, Kayla was given more responsibilities and was treated more like a full-time staff member. “I played a very active part in the company. I never had to get coffee or do other mundane tasks,” Kayla said. Because of this, she gained invaluable, hands-on learning experiences in the marketing field.

“I learned so much about search engine optimization. I now know how to use Google Analytics, Moz Open Site Explorer, Yext, and many other programs,” Kayla noted. “I think this experience solidified that I want to work in the media industry.”

Kayla would highly recommend others interested in marketing check out Evolving Interactive. Kayla would also recommend prospective interns take the initiative to make their experience as memorable as possible.

“If there is something you want to learn at your internship, don’t wait for your supervisor to ask you. If you want a hands-on experience, make sure they know your goals from the start. More likely than not, they will be more than happy to help you.”


Want to learn about DePaul’s University Internship Program? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to UIP@depaul.edu. Need help finding an internship? Visit depaul.joinhandshake.com, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.

 

DePaul Diaries: Life as a Marketing Intern

By: Sean Nasi, DePaul University digital cinema major ’15

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.


After a successful summer as a marketing intern with Textura Corporation, Liz Cooney, DePaul marketing major, was offered a full-time position at the company after her graduation this past fall. Liz really enjoyed the casual, friendly, but hardworking company culture and established a strong network of connections amongst her superiors, fellow interns, and staff members in different departments.

“This internship experience really was unlike any other I’ve had previously,” Liz said. “They worked extremely hard to make the summer a beneficial and positive experience for all the interns. I worked on real projects that were implemented by the company, and I was given the same level of respect as any other employee.”

Liz came into the experience with a set goal in mind. “As this was my third internship experience, I had already gained the fundamental skills of working in an office,” she explained. “So I went into the experience really wanting to increase my marketing skills and cross-functional knowledge of the business world.”

Like anyone first starting a job, Liz was nervous when she first arrived at Textura. However, having the opportunity to complete so many interesting and challenging projects increased her confidence, skills, and knowledge in marketing and other aspects of business operations.

Liz, who also worked as a marketing intern with the DePaul Career Center, found the opportunity with Textura on DePaul’s job and internship platform, now called Handshake.

“Take advantage of all the opportunities you’re given. Reach out to employees and make connections, ask questions and ask to be involved in other projects that interest you,” Liz advises prospective interns.

“Being an intern is about learning, and you want to absorb as much information as you can while you’re there,” Liz said.

Liz certainly took advantage of her experience at both the Career Center and Textura Corporation, and she used both opportunities to launch herself into the next step of her career.


Want to learn about DePaul’s University Internship Program? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to UIP@depaul.edu. Need help finding an internship? Visit depaul.joinhandshake.com, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.

 

DePaul Diaries: Life as a Chicago Public Schools Intern

By: Sean Nasi, DePaul University digital cinema major ’15

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.


Most internship opportunities only last a few months to a year, but Danielle Rossi, DePaul history major, has been an intern at the Chicago Public School’s Office of Early Childhood Education for seventeen months and is still going strong. Danielle initially found the position through personal networking, but has come away with some great professional experiences.

“[At CPS] I have learned valuable collaborative skills from working on teams for different projects, but also, I have learned professional independence in order to get certain aspects of our project done and apply that to the larger group focus,” Danielle said.

Throughout her internship, Danielle has been charged with updating and monitoring the assessment site used by CPS preschool teachers, as well as assisting with enrollment and technical issues. Being a part of CPS and working to positively affect so many members of the community was Danielle’s favorite aspect of her job.

“We are one of the largest employers in the city and the third largest public school district. Our work impacts thousands of students,” Danielle said. “It is fulfilling to know that we are working to create a successful and safe learning environment for all children of Chicago.”

Danielle also loved the culture and environment of the education sector. The Office of Early Childhood Education celebrates all individual and departmental accomplishments, no matter how small.

Danielle also loved the culture and environment of the education sector.

“In my department, we are very much like a family,” Danielle said. Like most industries, academia places high value on teamwork, collaboration, and building professional relationships. As Danielle expressed, “everyone is willing to help each other out, whether it is to get the answer [to] a question or [to] prepare for our huge three day summer institute.” This positive atmosphere is only one of the reasons why Danielle has had such a successful internship experience.

Danielle believes that an internship can offer a great opportunity for students of all interest levels and majors, not just a select few.

“Don’t be afraid to take a dive into an internship you are not sure if you will like. That is the point of internships,” Danielle said. Danielle proves that with a positive attitude and an open mind, interns will expose themselves to a variety of worthwhile experiences and potential opportunities.


Want to learn about DePaul’s University Internship Program? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to UIP@depaul.edu. Need help finding an internship? Visit depaul.joinhandshake.com, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.