Students profit from nonprofits

A new College of Business Administration scholarship has created a win-win relationship for UNI students and nonprofit organizations.

The Scholarship for Social Engagement, which was established in spring 2011, allows business majors to gain valuable work experience in a sector that students often overlook, since many nonprofit organizations are unable to pay their interns. This scholarship removes that financial barrier by paying students an hourly wage that’s consistent with comparable business internships with for-profit companies.

“The scholarship exposes students to a totally different aspect of the business world and to totally different career options,” said Katie Noonan, program assistant in the College of Business Administration.

Kendra WilleyDuring the spring 2011 semester, Kristi Phillips, economics and Spanish ’11, completed an internship with Muchas Manos Light Work, an organization that provides financial aid and educational assistance to people in the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua. Phillips worked with an organic sewing cooperative and identified ways to increase production efficiency; she also designed promotional materials and contacted potential distributors of the cooperative’s products. In May, she traveled to Nicaragua to help the business owners implement her ideas.

“I was excited to do a hands-on project that could have a lasting impact on the people I met,” said Phillips. “I was also able…to make suggestions on how the cooperative could improve business processes and expand its business into international markets.”

In September, Phillips will begin working toward her master’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean studies at New York University. “My ultimate goal is to be a professor and lead short-term study abroad courses so I can help others understand the realities of other cultures, particularly development issues in Latin America,” she said.

Junior Kendra Willey, a marketing major from Oskaloosa, is interning with Big Brothers Big Sisters, a nationwide organization that mentors children ages 6 through 18. During her internship in the nonprofit’s Waterloo office, Willey has conducted market research and created a marketing plan for a new fall fundraising event, the Spooks & Spokes Halloween Bike Ride, which will be held October 15, 2011. Willey is also working on a marketing plan for the agency itself.

“This internship experience has shown me how I can use my business skills to further the mission of a nonprofit organization while positively impacting my community,” said Willey. “I will soon begin my search for a full-time job after graduation, and applying at nonprofit organizations is at the top of my list.

“The scholarship has truly been a blessing,” continued Willey. “There are wonderful nonprofit organizations that rely on interns to help complete projects and daily work. The experience you gain is invaluable. Passing up an opportunity like this would be passing up the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Learn how you can apply for the Social Engagement Scholarship or contact Noonan for more information.