Beaumont, Texas – My time at TLT – Tomorrow’s Leaders Today has been both humbling and confidence building.  I came to TLT as a marketing intern who knew nothing about marketing.  Over the course of nine months, I have held three positions and learned invaluable lessons along the way.

When I decided in my mid-forties to go back to school, I chose Sociology as my major because I really had no idea what sociology was.  I thought it was a general enough degree that it would get me a job somewhere.  My primary goal at that time was to get a degree before I turned 50.

I have known for years that I wanted to work in the nonprofit sector but was afraid it was not feasible.  I had dreams of working with victims of domestic abuse teaching individual or group sessions to help those who had been isolated or never learned basic life skills for living on their own.  I also had an interest in working with LGBTQ youth as a kind of life coach/mentor.

I decided toward the end of my junior year at Texas Woman’s University that I needed to find an internship in order to gain experience for my resume.  I had seen Elaine at a few different panel discussions through TWU and appreciated her enthusiasm and passion for the work that TLT does in the community.  I was thrilled to learn that all internships were being done remotely, so I took a chance and applied through Handshake.

My time as a marketing intern showed me just how little I knew about marketing, but also pushed me to try new things.  I was encouraged to pitch ideas for projects and to take initiative.  In the beginning, my goal was to gain experience with a nonprofit to beef up my resume.  It did not take long for me to appreciate the work that TLT does and to know that I wanted to be a part of that work for longer than the 2 month summer internship.  I asked to stay on for another term  

By Tracy Baker

and requested a new position.  I asked to be involved with Grant Writing in order to learn more about funding nonprofits.  I enjoyed my time working with other interns to research grants and help write proposals.  Gathering deeper information about TLT for the grants reinforced my belief that this is an amazing organization with which I wanted to continue to work.

Toward the end of the fall internship session, I asked to stay on once again.  This time I came back as a program coordination intern.  This is my most fulfilling position I have ever held, with or without pay.  Working as a program coordination intern allows me to see how programs are created, what goes into sustaining them, and the impact our programs have on the youth that TLT serves.

Throughout my time at TLT, I have been encouraged and supported by Elaine, fellow interns, and mentors.  I have achieved the great resume entry I was hoping for, but beyond that, I have learned what I want to do in the world.  Because of the work I have done with TLT, I have learned that nonprofit is absolutely the sector in which I need to work.  I have also increased my soft skills, my professionalism, and my collaboration with team members.  All of these will benefit me no matter where I go in my career.

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