Finding Your Creativity in a Nonprofit Internship

Did you know that nonprofits offer just as many creative opportunities as other internships? If you have already considered the nonprofit sector as potential watering grounds to grow your skills, you might have identified with a mission-driven organization as well as the scoped the nonprofit scene for internships. What often is less clear to budding creatives is how to fit their interests and skillsets into a field where the terms “Design Team” or “Marketing Division” might not even exist. However, nonprofits with even the smallest operations team are looking for the talents of a creative intern.  These opportunities offer you the chance to grow your portfolio and professional network in an environment that breeds creative independence.

Designers
Just like anywhere else, design skills are a hot commodity for nonprofits looking to expand their online presence and engage their target audience. Strategic, meaningful visuals are vital for connecting both outsiders and supporters with a nonprofit’s mission, yet this is an area that often goes neglected. Organizations with a high online visibility – especially those targeted toward youth initiatives, the arts, and global issues – will provide the largest platform for creative designers to broadcast their work and demonstrate its impact.

Communications & Editing
Grantwriting is an integral facet to nonprofit operations; and most organizations have at least one staff member dedicated to the task, if only part-time. Other opportunities for stretching your communications muscles include writing membership newsletters and PR clips, editorial assistance for both online and print, layout design and publishing. Well-composed communication tools are essential to a nonprofit sharing its mission to not only provoke thought but inspires action in the recipient. Interns with an eye for concise copy and enthusiasm for the mission are in short supply, and the opportunities for exposure are huge!

Computer/Web Development
You know the feeling of going onto a company’s website and feeling like you time traveled to 1998? Nonprofits can be victims to the unfortunate effects of bad web design. As organizations increasingly look for ways to broaden their funding base, they are focusing even more on building meaningful, often interactive relationships with those first-time visitors to their site. Medium to large-sized organizations will probably have a dedicated team of one or more for managing the website, but these kind of internship opportunities, including those for re-building or re-branding, are plentiful across the board.

Marketing/Development/Events
Only two words necessary here: social. media. While all nonprofits need the help of dedicated development and events folks, their methods for running those shows can often run a bit old school. Cold-calling, mailing campaigns, and posters are great, but they really can’t compete in terms of the scope and broadcasting ease offered by Facebook and other platforms. Remember the Red Cross’s text campaign following the Haiti earthquake? With all eyes pointed toward social media, taking an extra step to capture the What, How, and Why of a social media marketing campaign will guarantee your success as an intern and quite possibly future work afterward.

Karina Briski has been in the world of 9-5′s for nearly two years and has taken numerous internships with nonprofits and small social enterprises in her off-hours to keep the creative juices flowing. She’s in the process of moving from Seattle to New York City this month to put her intern skills to the real test. She also writes a bunch about anything that comes to mind, and her work can be found in various corners of the web, including on a blog that she sometimes forgets about updating. She shares most of her important news via Twitter.

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About the Author

Karina Briski has been in the world of 9-5′s for nearly two years and has taken numerous internships with nonprofits and small social enterprises in her off-hours to keep the creative juices flowing. She’s in the process of moving from Seattle to New York City this month to put her intern skills to the real test. She also writes a bunch about anything that comes to mind, and her work can be found in various corners of the web, including on a blog that she sometimes forgets about updating. She shares most of her important news via Twitter.

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