What I Learned During my Internship at Komen Columbus

Guest post by Andrea Fey
Komen Columbus Communications and Events Intern

Last summer I had the wonderful opportunity to intern for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, (DSAGC). There I quickly learned the ins and outs of the non-profit sector and soon fell in love with the work I was doing. I was not only furthering my education, but also making an impact in the Cincinnati community, where I am from. My experience at DSAGC encouraged me to seek out other non-profit opportunities and ultimately led me to Komen Columbus, where I have spent the past three months working with their amazing staff and volunteers.

On my first day at Komen Columbus, I arrived completely overdressed for this laid-back office atmosphere that allows employees to be professional and productive while being comfortable at the same time. Not knowing exactly what was in store for me, I was immediately thrown into 2012 Race for the Cure Race preparations, as the Race was only a few weeks away. Answering calls, recording donations, gathering team packets, assembling survivor bags, my days quickly flew by and race day was here before I knew it.

This years Race for the Cure was my first. My mom, Lisa, drove up from Cincinnati Friday night and volunteered with me early Saturday morning. We were eventually able to sneak away to participate in the Race with family and friends.

As we proudly walked for a friend who is a five year survivor and one who lost her battle to breast cancer, I was overcome with emotion walking through downtown Columbus. Thankfully, I had sunglasses on so my tears weren’t visible, but I was amazed to see so many people with so many different stories come out to support the fight against breast cancer together. Knowing that I had a small part in making this event successful was extremely gratifying.

My intern experience at Komen Columbus has been much like my first Race for the Cure experience, very rewarding.

The people I have met during my time at Komen Columbus have impressed me with their passion toward this cause and these same people have been exceedingly influential in my development as a young professional. I was given the opportunity to get my toes wet in all areas of this organization.

  • I learned what it takes to orchestrate an enormous event, such as the Race for the Cure, down to every little detail from Becca Thomas, director of events and marketing.
  • Natalie Guagenti, volunteer coordinator, introduced me to many  outreach programs and she knows how to rally volunteers to make each event successful.
  • I received knowledge on development and fundraising from, Development Director, Beth Waldren and Development Coordinator Brooke Grant, that you can’t learn in a classroom.
  • I got a taste of mission and grant work from Julie, through the recent Breast Health Summit and seeing Komen dollars at work in our community.
  • At one point I think Cindy Mansfield, the finance coordinator,  thought I was studying to be an accountant as I assisted her during the Race aftermath with donations.
  • I can only hope in the world of communications that Director of Communication Nicolle Racey’s go get ‘em attitude and expertise has rubbed off on me a little bit.

Of course this whole organization could not thrive and be as successful as it is without Katie Carter’s leadership. As executive director of the Columbus Affiliate for the past 11 years, Katie will do whatever it takes to make a difference in this community. Although I have yet to shed tears while working, like I did at the Race, I will be sad to leave these dedicated and hard-working women as I head back to Miami University to complete my degree in Organizational Communications and Interactive Media Studies.

Komen Columbus is truly a wonderful organization. I am so fortunate that I was able to be a part of this staff and community for a few short months. This internship has provided me with the perfect foundation to build upon in my future career and personal endeavors.