Through the Eyes of an Intern

This spring, SEM is hosting an intern from the Institute of Philanthropy and Voluntary Service, Christiana Ilufoye. Our staff took some time out to ask Christiana about her experience at SEM thus far.

What did you know about non-profits and about Southeast Ministry?

“Prior to my position as an intern in a non-profit organization, my knowledge of what a non-profit is was very limited. I initially thought that non-profit organizations mostly help the homeless and feed the poor by giving food during the holiday. Even then, I still had a very limited idea of what working for or running an organization really entails. I didn’t know that non-profit organizations needed to continuously look and apply for grants that will bring funds in and stabilize the organization. I thought that majority of their funds came from donation from people.

Initially, I knew little about Southeast Ministry. However, after researching the organization, I was pleased with the information I received from their website. I was even more pleased with the organization’s mission and plans in helping the community progress by providing education. Southeast Ministry not only plans to educate the community, but they also plan to prepare their participants with needed credentials and skills to get respectable jobs. At Southeast Ministry there’s an open door policy, which means that they are willing to help anyone in spite of their age, race, gender, and etc. Their motto, “Open door, Open Hearts, Open Minds” is another great factor that contributes to their unique and innovative mission in truly helping the community get to a better place. Furthermore, their overall goal is to help the community; however, they focus more on the individuals who makes up the community and are willing to sacrifice some of their time to reclaim the education opportunities they missed out on.”

What were your internship expectations?

“Learning about my internship placement at Southeast Ministry I honestly did not know what to expect. However, as a psychology major I was looking forward to understanding what the non-profit organization culture was all about. I was eager to interact with some of the participants who are committed to the programs Southeast Ministry provides. Interaction between different groups and cultures has always fascinated me.”

What have you learned?

“I have learned several things during my time here at Southeast Ministry. First and foremost, non-profits are not companies, nor should ever be identify as companies, but they are organizations trying to better the lives of many people one goal at a time. I learned that those who work behind the scenes of non-profit organizations are just as important as those who work directly on the mission. For instance, the staff who work in the administrative department work just as hard and are just as important as any volunteers or staff member working on the “front line” of the organization. In a non-profit organization, one does not treat their clients, donors, or sponsors as one would do in the business world. Everyone at Southeast Ministry is treated like family. Even the participants would have little chats with their teachers and other participants on how their day or week was like without any fear of being shut down. Apart from the do’s and don’ts that I was able to learn from my supervisor; I was also privileged to have a one-on-one interview with the Executive Director, Valarie Ashley, which was an honor because of how busy and time consuming her schedule is. Sitting in some of the classes given to participants allowed me to learn more on how Southeast Ministry is changing the lives of individuals.”

How will this experience help you moving forward?

“Having this experience has already started helping me in my future plans and goals. During my short time here, I already find myself thinking deeply on what I want to do next after my graduation from college; also, how I can truly help my community become better. It might sound cliché to say I want to be able to help my community, but seeing how the teachers at Southeast Ministry devote their time and knowledge to such a cause that helps people around them become better people has sparked a sense of responsibility for me in my own community.”

What do you like most about Southeast Ministry?

“There are several things to like about Southeast Ministry that might not be seen or noticed at first glance. The students’ eagerness, determination, and patience to learn at their varying ages is a lot to admire. Many of Southeast Ministry participants understand the second chance that have been given to them at no cost to them and they show their appreciation to the organization by coming at scheduled dates and times, being prepared for tasks given to them, and mostly by sharing their experiences at Southeast Ministry to the people in the community. Without a doubt I enjoy my small conversations with the staff members because they are educative, informative, and welcoming kinds of conversations. Not once did any of the staff members make me feel like I was an outsider, which makes my time at Southeast Ministry more enjoyable.”


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