The United Way offers first hand experience in the social service field to area students looking to create change.
The United Way of Northeastern SD (United Way) has traditionally had a non-profit internship experience for college level students. This current academic year, the United Way opened two spots for high school students. Aberdeen Central Seniors Colton Hansen and Mariah William, in partnership with the Aberdeen Central Internship Class, received firsthand experience of what it is like to work in the social service field. “The United Way internship program not only gives the experience of the day-to-day operations, but also provides access to our community’s largest employers and most recognized leaders in the area,” says Aaron Schultz, Director of United Way.
Colton Hansen reflected on his time with the agency by stating that: “The United Way kept us very busy. We have both helped deliver around 173 meals with the Meals On Wheels program, volunteered at Camp Dream Makers, helped pack 25,000 pounds of food for the NALC-United Way Food Drive, packed 150 meals for the Salvation Army Summer Food Program, archived 80 years worth of historical documents, and helped spread publicity on the United Way social media accounts.”
A unique aspect of the United Way internship experience is learning from the United Way Board of Directors. The United Way encourages the interns to reach out to Board members and learn about their connection to the agency to get a better understanding of the community employment opportunities. This year’s experiences included a one-on-one interview with NSU President Dr. Tim Downs, a behind the scenes look at the Aberdeen 3M plant with the Plant Manager Andy Rehder, understanding patient care and responsibilities with Inpatient Nursing Director at Sanford Heidi Myhre, and a hands-on learning experience at the 5th Circuit Court with the Honorable Judge Portra. “The opportunities to meet with the United Way Board members and learn about all the great things people are doing in our community was a highlight of my internship experience,” says Mariah William.
The original design of the United Way internship program was to give college students the feel for working in the not-for-profit sector. The program has evolved into an experience for both high school and college students to learn from leaders in a variety of fields in our region. Leadership is not a new concept to either one of these high school seniors. Collectively they are involved with CHS Debate, CHS Football and Basketball, and Future Business Leaders. They are both officers for the CHS National Honor Society Chapter as well. This year the officers challenged clubs and teams with the “Golden Hour,” where each group goes out in the community and puts in one hour of volunteering. As of March, CHS students have logged in over 1200 hours of volunteerism. “We have an opportunity to cultivate servant leadership through learning from some of the most prominent leaders in our region. We owe it to the future generations to do everything we can to show them what it means to ‘Live’ and ‘Lead’ united in our community,” Aaron Schultz says. // –Angie Cleberg