The Ronald McDonald House Charities

Student Intern at the Ronald McDonald House - Fall 2012 

Cassandra McDonald, BA [MAJOR] '13

When applying for your internship, what did you do to prepare and/or set yourself apart from other candidatCassandra McDonald standinges?

Before my interview, I fixed up my portfolio and really just practiced potential Q&As for a couple nights before the interview. I also spiced up my professional attire to make sure I looked the part! This is typically my same routine for every interview. I just try to relax and be myself.

What were your main responsibilities as an intern?

I was the Development and Fundraising Intern. I assisted in the development and execution of events and fundraising and conducted market research for the company and potential donors. I contacted donors and in-kind sponsors, created blog posts and social media updates, and assisted with the strategic planning for miscellaneous and third party fundraisers.

What was the most valuable new skill you learned at your internship?

I don't know if I would really consider this a skill, but what I have learned the most from the beginning of RMHC is to be dynamic. To be dynamic is to be constantly changing especially in regards to personality, ambition, energy, and new ideas. At RMHC, I never had the same job or task every day I came in. When I was given a new job or task, there wasn't a guidebook or rules to follow. I constantly had to develop new ideas and better develop my ambition to implement those ideas. Thus, I developed a sense of dynamism. Everything I have learned from this internship and during my education will be a foundation for my professional career, but I know that I will need to constantly improve and change to better myself and my career.

What challenges did you face?

The hardest challenge was balancing and managing my internship, classes, work, campus organizations, and my personal and social life. My planner was full every single day. Some days I got little to no sleep and most days I procrastinated until the last minute, but I learned how to manage my time. Also, I figured out my stress level, and I know how much I can handle without going over the edge. The spring semester will be intense as it is my last, but I am cutting back to enjoy my final months as a college student.

What has been your greatest success?

In my internship, I would say that my greatest success was the ability to network with all of the staff and volunteers at RMHC and establish relationships that will last a lifetime. My greatest success in my personal life is probably my study abroad experience in Switzerland. I developed a sense of global citizenship and the true meaning of diversity. I had never been out of the country before, and stayed in Missouri my whole life until last year. From my experience, I learned more about how other countries function economically, politically, socially, and technologically. This experience broke me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to interact with a wide range of people.

In five or fewer words, describe the work environment at Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Many hats, family, cohesive, passion.

In what ways was your internship experience different from what you initially expected?

I thought that I would be planning and executing many events throughout the semester. I learned so much about market research involving the organization, its donors, and miscellaneous events. I also learned more about the organization and the  operations of a non-profit.

In what ways was it exactly what you expected?

The environment was exactly what I had expected and more. RMHC is like a big family. Everyone genuinely cares about one other, takes on projects for each other in busy times, and they all have the same mission in their hearts: to provide a “home-away-home” for families of seriously ill children. Every time I went in, the environment was relaxed, and creative. We laughed a large portion of the day and bounced questions and answers off one another.Cassandra McDonald head shot

How would you advise students who are just beginning to think about the internship search?

Be open-minded. You may apply for an internship that you think really won't fit you or that you aren't sure about. But that's okay. Every experience you take will build on your knowledge, skills, and personality. Also, be confident. You are competing against many other students and friends for internships and eventually careers. You bring many skills and values that others may not, and you want to always highlight those.

 What's next for Cassandra McDonald?

My goal before I graduated was to have two internships. I wanted to gain as much professional experience outside of my education before I entered the “real world.” Before Thanksgiving, I had an interview with Javelin, an experiential marketing agency downtown. The interview went well, and in my opinion, I nailed it! I received the internship for the spring semester and will be working on various accounts for the agency planning events and conducting research. I know that from RMHC to Javelin seems like way opposite ends of the spectrum. But, I am glad I am doing this because, hopefully, I will know exactly what I want and don't want in a career when I graduate.

 

 
 

Webster University - School of Communications: The Center for Portfolio Development and Internships
Leif J. Sverdrup Building, Room 124 | contact: Mindy Berkowitz | Phone (314) 246-7614, Fax (314) 246-8274 | mindyb@webster.edu