Challenging? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.

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by Annette Dipert

My semester as a nonprofit fellow was both the most difficult and most rewarding semester of my Mason career. The internship, courses, professors, and people all combined into what turned out to be a life-changing experience.

My internship placement was amazing. I volunteer at the National Zoo, so I was able to contact my volunteer coordinator and gain an internship with her. It was interesting seeing the behind-the-scenes work (and it was A LOT of work) that these coordinators do to keep the zoo volunteer program running. They are truly indispensable. It was even more interesting because I was interning during the 2 week government shutdown. I not only got to see this wonderful organization working well, but also in crisis mode. It certainly was hectic deciding who would be present, how volunteers would get into the zoo, and communicating all of this to all of our hundreds of volunteers! I also got to sit in on panda planning meetings and even manage a small group of volunteers myself. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

The classes were also integrated with my internship. I was able to take everything I was learning and apply it to my work. All of the assignments were purposeful, and really made me think about what I was doing and my place in the world of nonprofits. I really feel like this program has given me the tools to really go out and make a difference in the world.

Then there were the people. The people in my cohort were/are AMAZING. Each of us came to the program with different passions and perspectives, and once we all got to know each other, we learned so much! Though all of us are very different, we each have a passion for doing good. Not only were they my classmates, we became friends. I know I will rely on and grow with them as we each go out and make a difference in the world. The professors cared so deeply about us and really wanted us to learn and succeed. I’ve never met such supportive and caring professors in my life.

So if you’re even THINKING about doing this program, don’t hesitate. It will literally be the most amazing semester of your Mason career. Take it from me, a proud Fall 2013 Mason Nonprofit Fellow.



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