Preparing for a Career: Interning at the Ohio & Erie Canalway

Sara Hart is a current part-time intern at the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition. We asked her to share her experience so far. If you are interested in becoming a future intern, please visit our website.

Summer of 2016 was winding down, my senior class schedule was nearly finalized, and I was determined to gain “real world” experience with an internship in communications. As I started researching local Akron businesses, I was drawn to the intern opportunity at the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition since I’m a frequent Towpath Trail user. I thought it would be interesting to learn how the organization works to preserve and develop the Towpath Trail and surrounding National Heritage Area. I also wanted to gain an inside perspective on how a non-profit operates and how I could use my skills to contribute to their mission. Between the time that I first became a fall 2016 intern at the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition and this moment today, I’ve learned so much more about what this organization provides and through my experience, I have grown personally and as a young professional.

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Sara Hart, left, along with volunteer Rachael Rice and program/office manager Lynn Williams at the Russell Avenue underpass dedication last fall.

From day one of my internship, everyone at the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition welcomed me as part of the team and taught me the ins and outs of what they do on a daily basis. Over the next several months I was able to assist with planning events including Bike & Brew and the Lockheed Martin Towpath Freedom 5k. I loved being able to experience the hard work that goes into event planning, as well as seeing participants truly enjoy the experience that we provided them.

I learned to use e-mail marketing software and have been responsible for the creation of a bi-weekly e-newsletter that’s distributed to nearly 4,000 recipients. I tested my skills in designing flyers to promote programs like our canoe tour at Summit Lake and I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the Akron Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative through which I’ve met many creative leaders in the Akron community. I sat in on many meetings and I was encouraged to contribute and learn about each project. Needless to say, I didn’t twiddle my thumbs or go on coffee runs as the cliché suggests; my internship was full of so much meaningful work.

I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for how the team at the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition works tirelessly to benefit the community through a multitude of programs and improvements – and I’ve had a lot of fun in the process! The amount of eager collaboration between members, volunteers, partners, and the community as a whole has inspired me. I’m now approaching the end of my studies in Strategic and Organizational Communication at the University of Akron and I feel confident that my internship has prepared me to pursue the next step in my career field.

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