The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and South Texas is not just an organization that grants the wishes of children with critical illnesses. It is an organization filled with inspirational people that lift the spirits of those around them and touch the lives of every person that comes into contact with the organization. My internship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation is hands down one of the best work experiences I’ve ever had, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a valuable work experience.
It was clear from day one that the people in the office are the heart and soul of the Foundation, and they make-up everything the organization stands for: care, passion, dedication, and perseverance. It doesn’t take long before interns become a part of the Make-A-Wish family, exuding these traits and becoming an integral part of its mission. The internship is challenging, educational, and fulfilling. Something you cannot easily say about most work experiences.
During my time at Make-A-Wish, I learned about event planning, communications, and the overall operation of a nonprofit organization. As my first internship in the pubic relations field, the experience served as a bridge from the classroom to the real world, allowing me to apply skills learned during my coursework while benefiting from a solid mentorship. The highlight of my experience was planning multiple large-scale fundraising events that allowed the organization to grant numerous wishes to children in Central Texas.
I had the pleasure of working on two very different fundraising events while at Make-A-Wish that provided hands-on planning and project management experience. The first and most exciting was the inaugural Over the Edge event that sent more than 150 people rappelling down a 32-story building in downtown Austin. This fundraising event was one-of-a-kind for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and was a huge undertaking with many moving parts and important details. The months leading up to Over The Edge were dedicated to planning each minute of the event, foreseeing every possible need, anticipating any potential problem, and organizing more than 100 rappellers, volunteers and sponsors. Each intern was called upon at one point or another during the process to provide input and make sure every detail was covered. The day of Over the Edge was just as expected: busy, long, and hectic. However, the Make-A-Wish team pulled together to make it happen, with a smile on their faces, as they do time and time again.
The second major event I planned with the Foundation was the 21st Annual Make-A-Wish Radiothon. The radiothon served as a good contrast to the Over The Edge event as it is hosted year after year by both KASE101 and Make-A-Wish and is considerably less complex. The primary feature of the event are the wish stories told first-hand from parents, doctors, and wish kids themselves. These stories will break your heart, lift you up, and ultimately remind you of the reason Make-A-Wish does what it does, day in and day out. At times, it is easy to lose sight of the greater mission and purpose the Foundation serves, and it is events like these that remind everyone why the time, work, and constant dedication is well worth it.
The experience as a whole taught me that planning an event is a long process requiring time, patience, and great attention to detail. In the big picture, the event itself is such a small part of everything that goes into it, yet it is the end result of all your work and the primary determinant of success. After all is said and done, both events turned out to be a huge success that each raised more than $200,000 for the Foundation. Together, these funds granted more than 80 wishes to children in Central Texas, allowing the Foundation to fulfill its mission of enriching the human experience with hope, strength and joy. My experience with the Foundation allowed me to find my passion, gain valuable work experience, make amazing friends, and ultimately build a relationship with the organization that will last a lifetime. The opportunity is what you make of it and can be one the most rewarding experiences of your life. Either way, I promise you will not be disappointed.