Interning at Hillcrest – By: Nicole Belair

Nicole BelairBy: Nicole Belair – Hillcrest Summer Intern

June 1st was a rainy Monday, and I had never been so nervous in my entire life. I almost talked myself out of the whole thing as I pulled my car into one of the few open parking spaces behind Hillcrest’s Administrative Offices. It’s not too late to turn around, I thought. But it was.

I finally parked and fixed my black and white polka-dot dress in the distorted reflection on my driver side door. I had spent the past week inside hundreds of stores, purchasing an entirely new wardrobe for my summer internship. Nothing about my preference for Levi’s and flannels screamed “professional” and I could no longer camouflage myself as the misunderstood writer from Vermont. It was time to start my career.

My anxieties were eased almost immediately as our New Staff Orientation began. During my two days of training, I was able to learn about all of the incredible work that Hillcrest Educational Foundation does for students from across the country and the complex methods of treatment that are utilized. I was touched by the success stories and interactions with the students. Upon my first meeting with my supervisors-to-be, Sheila Mason and Katrina Cardillo, I knew that interning at Hillcrest for the summer would be nothing short of positive. I was grateful that I didn’t turn my car around on that first day.

Whenever I told a friend or a family member that I would be interning this summer, each one would make a joke about having to bring people coffee and do the work that no one else wanted to do. Never did I think that by my second day on the job, I would be writing the first drafts of press releases, writing letters to donors and scholarship winners and researching different digital marketing strategies for our department to employ. I became very passionate about the Foundation and my desire for it to succeed increased every day, as opposed to my monotonous experience in retail for many years. I was able to attend picnics, student recognition events, an All-Staff Meeting and spontaneous lunch dates with the rest of the interns. I felt like I was a part of something great: a friendly community geared toward helping students in need.

Katrina and Sheila made me feel incredibly welcome. They trusted me with challenging projects, gave me many opportunities to learn the basics of their jobs at Hillcrest and allowed me to determine if this was a career path I would be interested in heading down. They really treated me as an equal, not just an inexperienced intern who might have been in the way.

After only two weeks of interning, I knew that I wanted to expand my college major. I had been studying Professional Writing for the past year, but I have realized that I want more experience in communications, public relations and business administration. Without this internship, I might not have realized that until it was too late. I am beyond grateful to have been given this opportunity, especially at such a young age and at such a wonderful place. This originally intimidating experience has been a smooth, informative and enjoyable transition toward my career, and I am very thankful to everyone from Hillcrest and the Administrative Offices for making that possible.

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