We asked the apprentices in nonprofit management to tell us more about themselves, their work, and their future plans. Here are one apprentice’s reflections on what the program has been like so far.
What attracted you to the apprentice program?
During the spring semester of my junior year I had a Community Service Work Study position at Imagine Grinnell as an assistant in the Community Garden. I heard about the apprentice program from the apprentice who was working at Imagine Grinnell that year. The program sounded like a great way for me to continue and expand upon the work that I was doing in the Community Garden at Imagine Grinnell. It also seemed like a great way for me to gain professional skills because and get to know the town of Grinnell better.
Why are you doing the program?
I am very interested in working for nonprofit organizations after I graduate, especially those that work to promote environmental sustainability. Participating in a year-long apprenticeship at a nonprofit that is doing just that is a perfect opportunity for me to gain the knowledge and skills I will need for this kind of work in the future.
What background or skills do you bring to the program?
As I noted earlier, I worked for Imagine Grinnell as a Community Service Work Study intern for the Community Garden during the spring semester of my junior year. I also worked in the Community and Student Gardens during the summer of 2010 through the Grinnell College Center for Prairie Studies.
During the summer of 2011, I was a Development and Communications Intern at Cultivate Kansas City, a nonprofit that promotes urban farming in the Kansas City metropolitan area. I worked with the development director on fundraising, grant-writing, and marketing. This internship gave me a lot of skills and knowledge about nonprofit work that I’ve been able to translate to my apprenticeship at Imagine Grinnell.
What drew you to Imagine Grinnell?
I am really impressed by all of the work that Imagine Grinnell has done. They have implemented and helped organize a number of energy and health-related projects that a lot of people in town don’t even realize can be attributed to Imagine Grinnell. Without a lot of these projects, such as the Grinnell Area Recreation Trail, Grinnell would not be as nice of a place to live. I’m happy that I get to work for an organization that is so dedicated to making Grinnell healthier on both a human and environmental level.
What kinds of projects do you do?
I have helped organize, staff, and follow-up on events put on by Imagine Grinnell, including their Local Foods Banquet and Auction and 2nd Saturdays 5k/10k bike and run. I also have helped put together publications for the organization, such as the annual report and promotional brochures. Currently, most of my work has been focused on planning programming for the Community Garden’s upcoming season. I am working with my director and the Community Garden coordinator on applying for a grant to fund youth programs in the garden.
What kind of skills have you been learning?
I have learned a lot about effective communications skills from writing stories for the annual report, emails, thank-you letters, brochures, grant applications, and more. I have also learned a lot about being flexible and doing what is needed at any given moment. My organization changed directors at the very beginning of my apprenticeship, and there was a brief period in which I was working without a director. During that time I realized a lot about all of the knowledge and skills needed to keep an organization running—there are a lot of tasks to do that seem insignificant but are very important! This apprenticeship has also taught me a lot about collaboration. The nonprofit organizations in Grinnell do a great job of utilizing each others’ skills and resources, and it has been very valuable for me to learn from them.
The Impact Her Apprenticeship Has Had on Her
How has having a close working relationship with your director impacted you and your future education plans?
I have definitely gained knowledge and skills from my apprenticeship that will help me with any career I may choose to pursue in the future, whether it be in the nonprofit sector or otherwise. Learning to communicate well, collaborate, and be flexible are good skills for any job.
I’m not entirely sure what kind of education I would like to pursue post-graduation, but this apprenticeship has given me valuable work experience that will help guide any future education plans.
Not only have I learned valuable professional skills from this apprenticeship, but I’ve learned a lot about the town of Grinnell. It’s amazing that I have lived in this town for three years but hadn’t been outside campus much until this semester. I think this is true for most Grinnell College students, and I’m very glad that this apprenticeship exists to help bridge that gap.
How has the apprenticeship program changed your perception of Grinnell? Nonprofit work? Your future?
I had not realized just how much nonprofit work is going on in Grinnell—it’s a lot! Without these organizations, Grinnell would not be the wonderful town that it is. I’m really glad that through this apprenticeship, I can witness and be a part of the work these organizations are doing.
My career goals have been leaning toward nonprofit work for the past year, and this apprenticeship has helped clarify those goals. With this experience, I have gotten to see an array of nonprofits—all with different missions and styles of management. With the skills and knowledge I’ve gained, I feel better prepared to navigate the world of nonprofits.
I’m really glad that this apprenticeship has allowed me to continue working in the Grinnell Community Garden. I fell in love with the garden during the summer of 2010, and I cannot imagine living here without getting to work in it. It’s been wonderful to see how much the Community Garden program has grown since becoming a part of Imagine Grinnell, and I’m so happy that this apprenticeship has allowed me to participate in that growth.