By: Ben Yarberry
At some point everyone has confronted, directly or indirectly, the sad reality of terminally ill children. Many wish to help, but there is little most people can do to ease the pain. One organization aims to do just that, and that is the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization committed to helping terminal children to fulfill their dreams. The mission of the Make-A-Wish Foundation is to “enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”
“Our goal is to grant wishes to all medically eligible children,” said Taylor Marini, a current employee. The Make-A-Wish Foundation does some of this through their very prominent intern program that college students can participate in.
Marini is responsible for interviewing and selecting interns for Make-A-Wish. The foundation usually reaches out to local colleges through sororities, vocational programs and other organizations when they need interns. A lot of interns are selected through “word of mouth–they are known to other volunteers, staff or donors,” Marini said.
Marini explained that some of the traits they look for in their interns are “organizational abilities, compatible personalities and an ability to work well with others within our team. We have interns in the office all year. Internships are a minimum of one semester. Some stay for one semester and some for multiple semesters. Our goal is to always have five interns,” she said.
Kaysie Norton, a current intern for Make-A-Wish, explained that her job varies, but she’s routinely asked to research different companies to sponsor events, mail thank-you letters, update spreadsheets and much more. “My supervisor gives me tasks that she knows I can do so that her time is better spent on more important parts of her job. She still gives me opportunities of learning different aspects of the company,” said Norton, who has interned at Make-A-Wish for a year now. Although Norton does not directly grant wishes, her work helps to secure funds for the program.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation has no paid internships; however, students can receive a class credit and valuable experience through the foundation. “We are always willing to work around their school and work schedule as we understand it is an unpaid internship. We ask for a minimum of 15 hours a week and work with them to set a schedule as we have five interns and three computers,” said Marini.
One enticing factor for interns in general is the chance to be brought on as a full-time employee. A recent study from Forbes Magazine found that sixty percent of paid interns are brought on full-time at the end of their internship. The article also stated that approximately thirty-seven percent of unpaid interns receive jobs.
While some may see interning as simply free labor, Norton indicates that she is a real part of the organization. “I feel it is great practice for the job. Since interning I have learned so much about my capabilities and my focus for my future career,” Norton said.
“The best part of interning at Make-A-Wish is how much the families appreciate everything we do for them,” Norton explained. “The hardest part is losing a child,” she added. “There are times when I want to break down because a child I just saw sadly passed away, but we made that child’s last days some of the best days for him or her and that is what really pays off for me,” she said. Norton is hoping to stay with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in their Bonita Springs office. “The people I work with are so passionate about their job; it truly is inspirational.”