Internship makes for a magical summer

Hannah Snidman

By Hannah Snidman

As I was flipping through the Jewish Light last winter, one article in particular stood out. The headline advertised a summer internship for college students; naturally, I was intrigued.

The article outlined qualifications for the position: must be entering junior or senior year of college in fall 2017, attend college in St. Louis or live in St. Louis and attend college elsewhere, be Jewish or interested in the Jewish community, and so on. Each bullet point drew me in further, as I began to believe that the piece was specifically written for me.

The program, called the Internship Experience for Future Community Leaders, is administered through the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. It began in summer 2014 and has had various numbers of interns every year, depending on funding.

With encouragement from my wonderful parents, I applied in January and scheduled a Skype interview for early March. In addition, a lay committee of eight to 10 community leaders reviews all application materials and selects about a quarter of the applicants as interns.

I was elated to hear that Federation sent my contact information to a mystery nonprofit. The mystery was revealed when the Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum, contacted me. After the second nerve-wracking interview, I was relieved to receive an email offering me the position of marketing intern.

I did not know who else or how many other students would be interns until I arrived at orientation in late May. There were 10 of us, two females and eight males. Three attended Washington University and were not St. Louis natives. The rest were from St. Louis and went to school at Bradley University, the University of Michigan, the University of Missouri, Vassar College and Yeshiva University.

Orientation began with get-to-know-you exercises, a personal favorite activity stemming from years of camp and youth groups. We learned about one another, the Federation, and the Jewish Federation Kopolow Building with a thorough partner scavenger hunt. My team came in a close second place, in case you were wondering.

Next, it was break time. We ate lunch and had the paparazzo (one photographer) take individual and group photos of us. I felt like a movie star with the bright lights and positioning. As the shortest intern in the group, I was strategically placed to mask the obvious height differences.

Unfortunately, I stopped feeling like a celebrity soon after. Due to an unexpected allergic reaction – who knew pesto sauce contains pine nuts? – my orientation session ended earlier than the rest of the group’s.

But I heard positive reviews about the activities I missed. The remaining interns successfully escaped from a room in Escape STL and bonded over Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt. My FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) was intense that night.

Luckily, the internship improved from there. I felt well enough the next morning to begin my first day of work at the Magic House. During the application process, I was asked a lot of questions about my interests and goals to try and match me with an organization. I could tell that a lot of thought and effort went into matching each one of us.

The Magic House turned out to be a great fit. I was placed in the marketing and development department, an office filled with empowering women. They provided an inclusive and educational environment for my first full-time internship.

I enjoyed many fun workplace practices, such as birthday traditions, a monthly Lunch Bunch, and the occasional dessert run. A major perk of the job included walking outside the office into a bustling museum filled with smiling kids and families excited to explore.

I also learned a lot from the hard-working Magic House employees. During my time there, I attended staff meetings, webinars, conferences, special events and more with my supervisor.

Other Federation interns worked at places such as the National Council of Jewish Women, DEMA Engineering and Missouri Jobs With Justice.

The Jewish Federation of St. Louis greatly enhanced the internship with an involved and knowledgeable mentor for each of us. We met individually with the mentor three or four times throughout the summer and met with all of the interns at almost weekly events.

At the first session after orientation, Federation representatives presented us with many young adult Jewish organizations to join. It was reassuring to hear that regular Jewish activities don’t have to end after high school youth group and Hillel or Chabad.

Subsequent programs included Shabbat dinner, networking lessons, communication practice, resumé and interview tips and a closing dinner. Each get-together provided us with new, beneficial skills.

I highly recommend this program to any Jewish St. Louis college sophomore or junior. You will create community connections and learn techniques to aid you in future endeavors.