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Guest Blog: Maya Morris, Philanthropy Intern, Reflects on Her CCCF Internship

On my first day as the philanthropy intern at Central Carolina Community Foundation, I witnessed 47 nonprofits receive $10,000 each from an anonymous donor known as the Cheerful Giver. As a rising junior in college, I had heard several stories about internships where interns were underpaid and oversaturated with busy work. Although nothing about the hiring process gave me the impression that my experience at the foundation would be negative, the anxious side of me was subconsciously preparing for the worst. However, by the time I left the Cheerful Giver breakfast, I came to three realizations that have continued to be relevant as I am writing this over a year later:

  • This internship would be characterized by meaningful work that improves the conditions of a community so many of us call home.
  • Though witnessing the impact of the Foundation on my first day intimidated me, the welcoming energy of the staff affirmed to me that I was entering an environment where I was to be unconditionally supported through my shortcomings and accomplishments.
  • I came to CCCF for real-world work experience, but I would be leaving having gained much more.

What attracted me the most to this job was the opportunity to do work that was meaningful. In the past year, my expectations have been exceeded in this regard. In my time at CCCF, I have been entrusted with taking the lead on grants intended to improve the organizational and fundraising capacity for local nonprofits as well as initiating our first round of pop-up grants. I have also assisted our African American Philanthropy Committee in their efforts to center, support, and celebrate Black-led and Black-benefiting nonprofits in the Midlands. Though simply being given the responsibility to aid in our philanthropic efforts has been rewarding, nothing has been more fulfilling than knowing the work that we do contributes to something far greater — using collective resources to cultivate a community where the needs of those who serve and are served are met.

Not only is the work I do meaningful, but I find that I am always being challenged in a way that expands my professional development. Because of this, however, I have naturally fallen short and made mistakes. Having never experienced an internship before, there were certain things that were unfamiliar to me such as scanning documents, drafting professional emails and building grant applications. Luckily, I work at an entity that values encouragement, support, and trust rather than shame. Anytime a mistake has been made on my behalf, I have been corrected with respect. If I needed to be taught how to complete a task, CCCF staff would eagerly stop what they were doing to assist me, never questioning my competence. Because of the unconditional support at CCCF, I leave everyday feeling more empowered and confident in my ability to fulfill my job duties and adequately show up for my community.

Finally, as I stated earlier, I entered this industry expecting to gain real-world experience. However, I know that when I graduate in May, I will be leaving CCCF having gained so much more. In my time here, I have been equipped with functional tools that will carry over in every work setting such as navigating interpersonal relationships, adaptability, discipline, and organization. Beyond functionality, I have been afforded the opportunity to be surrounded by a network of people who have consistently harnessed their time, social capital, and expertise to contribute to my holistic development. As I enter my second year, I remain grateful and honored to have been able to experience working at CCCF and I am excited to continue to contribute to our collaborative philanthropic efforts!