Local Internship; Global Impact.

Funding from the Rosenfield Program enabled Isabelle Kolleth to engage in an internship close to home, but with an international impact.

September 11, 2023

Tim Schmitt

Isabelle Kolleth ’24, a sociology major with an environmental studies concentration from Akron, Ohio, was looking for an internship that allowed her to pursue her interests and gain professional experience in her field. But like many high-need students, Kolleth was faced with an unfortunate dilemma: accept a non-paying position that fits her academic and professional desires or pay the bills with a job or internship that offers little in the way of personal or professional fulfillment.

Isabelle Kolleth '24 Interned at Drink Local, Drink Tap in Cleveland, Ohio, with Support from the Rosenfield Program.
Isabelle Kolleth '24 worked with Drink Local, Drink Tap in Cleveland, with support from the Rosenfield Program.

“I really needed a paid internship,” says Kolleth. “I just would not have been able to go a whole summer without having an income. I also wanted to make a difference and to get experience with a nonprofit organization, but it’s very hard to find an internship that has good hours and good pay.”

However, thanks to a grant from the Rosenfield Program, Kolleth was allowed the best of both worlds — an internship at a nonprofit organization in a field that she is passionate about and makes a difference in the world, and funds to support herself.

Kolleth worked a 12-week summer internship with Drink Local, Drink Tap, an international nonprofit focused on solving water equity and quality issues based out of Cleveland, Ohio.

“We worked to promote water equity in the Great Lakes region, and we did a lot of education about the water supply and trying to keep litter out of it,” she says. “We also helped raise funds and help facilitate building wells and sustainable water solutions in Uganda where the organization has another team.”

The Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights prepares students for a lifetime of civic engagement and connects the Grinnell community to the broader social and political issues that define the world beyond Grinnell. In addition to providing funding for student internships, the program brings distinguished scholars, public servants, and commentators to campus to enrich the academic experience at Grinnell and build a lively academic community that links Grinnell students to the world.

“I am so pleased and lucky to have been able to gain a lot of practical experience working for a nonprofit,” says Kolleth. “On top of that, I was able to work in Cleveland, which is more or less what I would consider to be my hometown. It’s close to home and it’s a region that I care about and that I’m personally invested in.”

Kolleth worked on a small, four-person team, which allowed her to gain experience in a wide range of the organization’s work, including education, marketing data management, administrative responsibilities, and more.

“I got to really see all of the major areas of a nonprofit, which is so helpful for me,” she says. “I was not only able to experience the day-to-day work of a nonprofit, but I also gained real, tangible experience, and put some of the values that I learned at Grinnell to use.

“I observed firsthand how you can talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to social justice values, being respectful of people, and finding that interesting balance of integrity and values that we learn about. Putting those values into practice in a real-world setting is incredibly rewarding and without funding from the Rosenfield Program the experience would not have been possible.”

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