By Lauren Borstein
Cleveland Hillel's internship program helps young people experience what the city offers.
Cleveland is a cool city?
Ask any participant in the Cleveland Hillel Summer Internship Program and they will gladly answer “yes!”
The Cleveland Hillel Summer Internship Program was created in 2008 to showcase the many reasons why young Jewish people should return to Cleveland after college to work and live. “The primary intention is to educate young people on the benefits of living in Cleveland so when they choose to settle down they can make an informed decision,” explains internship coordinator Ilana Shafran Mandel of Cleveland Hillel.
Michael Goldberg, a sophomore at Emory University, is seeing the city in a new light thanks to weekly seminars and visits to Cleveland sites. “I have lived in the greater Cleveland area my whole life, but feel for the first time that I really experience something unique to Cleveland every Friday,” he says. “Although many places we tour I have seen with my family, it is really wonderful to be with my peers seeing these sites.”
The Cleveland Hillel Summer Internship Program goes beyond the typical summer internship experience. The program offers helpful insight to the benefits of Cleveland, fosters friendships between the participants, and allows the interns to network with many people in the community. It was created by Cleveland Hillel with the support of the Cleveland Foundation and the Strengthening and Growing Jewish Cleveland initiative of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. Open to any Jewish undergraduate student living in Cleveland for the summer, this year the program has a diverse group of 33 participants working all over the greater Cleveland area. Students are placed in either a for-profit business or non-profit organization for a paid summer internship based on their interests and studies.
Brad Niedes, a junior at Ohio State University, works as an intern in the finance department at the Montefiore Home. “I am really starting to get a grasp on how nursing homes and other non-profit organizations receive revenue,” he explains. “The staff here has been extremely friendly and they have done an excellent job to help me understand the rich history of the organization and the financial and medical procedures that go on through their extensive orientation programs.”
Students agree that the weekly seminars make this internship program truly unique. The participants get to explore areas of the city that many Clevelanders have never experienced: walking tours of vibrant neighborhoods, visits to gems like The Great Lake Science Center and Pierre’s Ice Cream Factory, and exploring apartments downtown. Participants also get the chance to listen to the stories of business people and entrepreneurs living in Cleveland to hear real-life examples of the city’s many work options and to make networking connections.
Another aspect to the program is the social activities that are offered to the participants and their peers in Cleveland for the summer. They are invited to attend activities like restaurant nights at some of Cleveland’s top restaurants and to go to a concert (they’re particularly excited to be able to see rocker Jack Johnson together). This gives the interns and other 20-somethings a great opportunity to bond outside of the weekly seminars.
The participants not only get to explore the City of Cleveland, they get to give back to the city by participating in Summer of Service, run by Business Volunteers Unlimited. The Cleveland Hillel Summer Internship Program interns, along with 150 other interns from around the greater Cleveland area participate in an afternoon of community service. This year, there were over 15 different community service projects to chose from including projects at The Cleveland Food Bank, and The Cleveland Botanical Gardens. The interns are then invited to network and eat dinner together in order to make connections and reflect on the day.
Laura Stern, a senior at Hamilton College, says, “For me, the program has constructed a new outlook on what it means to be a young member of this impressionable and growing Cleveland community.”
Lauren Borstein is a member of the Indiana University class of 2012.