For the second year in a row, YWCA Dayton was chosen as a host site for the SRC community internship program. SRC is an independent, not-for-profit research and development corporation headquartered in New York but with locations across the U.S.
“Every year, the SRC family of companies searches for up-and-coming talent in college students and matches them with companies and nonprofits in their hometowns,” explained Sydney Chalifoux, corporate communications specialist and program lead. “Recruiters attend career fairs and visit numerous area universities in an attempt to attract the youngest and brightest business men and women. This year, more than two dozen students joined the program and went above and beyond in their duties while gaining real-world experience — even during this challenging pandemic.”
During their summer at SRC, two interns assisted YWCA Dayton’s marketing and communications department, providing nearly 1,000 hours of service — and managed all of their work virtually. Jaimie Franz, a senior at the University of Dayton, and Erin Miller, a sophomore at The Ohio State University, completed numerous projects, from writing blog posts and conducting an audit of YW’s website to streamlining its staff directory and expanding its historical timeline during this 150th milestone anniversary year.
Not only was the work interesting, Miller said; it also gave her a new perspective. “This summer opened my eyes to some of the issues that YWCA deals with that I previously haven’t had to think about. For example, I never really thought about what services different people need for domestic violence situations, such as help finding permanent housing and gaining financial independence. It also showed me ways that I could help my community, even just by educating myself on the issues YWCA addresses,” she said.
Franz agreed. “I learned a lot this summer,” she said. “From YW’s history and the larger background on women’s rights, to how to work in this ‘social distance’ world we live in today. It has been really great to see how YWCA Dayton has worked hard to stay open, safe, and support those in need this summer.”
Despite challenges presented by COVID-19, YWCA Dayton has seen no shortage of people and groups offering to help throughout 2020, said Audrey Starr, director of marketing and communications: “and, since our work is 24/7/365, that help is critical to making sure that no matter what, YW is known as a safe shelter from the storm.”
As Miller put it, “Like most things this summer, transitioning to a virtual internship was definitely an adjustment, but once I got more used to it, it wasn’t very hard to do. Most of the work I was doing during my internship easily transferred to working remotely. Being able to talk face-to-face over video calls every week really helped, and I was always able to email and call with any questions.”
Said Franz, “It was a first for me to not be onsite for an internship, but everyone I met virtually at YWCA made me feel super welcomed and supported throughout the entire process.”
While the internship lasted about 10 weeks, its impact will last far longer, both said. “Before this summer, I had little to no experience working with a nonprofit,” Miller said. “After this experience, I can see how much work and dedication goes into everything that happens at YWCA, things I didn’t even think about. This summer also showed me how one nonprofit can help in multiple different areas of the community, from advocating for social justice to teaching girls leadership skills.”
The experience sparked new areas of interest for Franz, who noted that she’s now exploring a new focus area of study. “I have deepened my appreciation for hardworking women, and I have considered changing my focus long-term in what I will do after I graduate. I currently work at the Human Rights Center at the University of Dayton during the school year, and I could definitely see myself going into more human rights aspects after graduation because of these two experiences”