Internship Spotlight: Grow Portland

Current student Eden Simko shared the following about being an Intern at Grow Portland …

What did you do as an intern at this organization?
I did a variety of tasks to help the Executive Director, Education Director, Site Coordinator, Grant Writer, and Educators. This included assistant teaching summer programming, planning and reviewing curriculum, writing grants, tabling at community events, and gardening to prepare spaces for education. I also helped with media and donor communication projects, such as taking photos of summer programming and collecting data on student and teacher experiences with the Garden School program.

How did you find this internship?
I first found out about the organization through a bag-it-forward donation program at my local grocery store. After researching the organization and thinking it would be a good fit, I cold emailed the Executive Director.

What did you enjoy most about your internship?
What I most enjoyed about my internship was the variety, which surprised me! I really appreciated how performing a diversity of tasks allowed me to engage lots of ways of thinking. Some days I was teaching, some days I was writing grants, some days I was doing statistical analysis of student evaluations, some days I was meeting with the Education Director to plan new lessons, some days I was weeding–I felt engaged with my body and my mind, and this made the work interesting and fresh. I was learning something new every day. I hadn’t known how important this was to me before, or that this might be something I could find or prioritize in a job search.

What did you find challenging?
While I loved the variety of the job, that also made the position unpredictable. The job was flexible, and that required flexibility from me as well. In addition, since the organization is so small and relies on community volunteers for tasks such as watering the school gardens, there were frequently gaps in the maintenance that required attention on short notice. My organization was understanding and never forced me to help with something I couldn’t manage with my schedule, but I imagine there are places where the requirement of flexibility could be incredibly demanding.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to make the most of an internship like yours?
Send the email! I think a lot of people think that a position has to be posted in order for you to apply; that’s a great way to get a job, but a cold email can provide you with opportunities or contacts you never predicted. Working with Grow Portland exposed me to so many community partners who do similar work and have similar missions, and now I have a much greater sense of how people engage with garden education in my city. There are lots of organizations doing great work in every city, and taking note of community partners and how organizations collaborate is a great way to network.

About the Organization

Grow Portland supports schools and communities by facilitating hands-on garden experiences that foster connections to food, nature and each other.

By Sheryl Rosenberg
Sheryl Rosenberg Associate Director