Intern Profile: Hannah Fairbanks at Northeastern Association for the Blind at Albany

photoHannah Fairbanks (right) interned at the Northeastern Association for the Blind at Albany (NABA).  This is her account.

NABA is a not-for-profit organization that provides assistance and support to those who are visually impaired or blind.  The organization serves fourteen counties and helps people of all ages.

During my internship I worked under Michele O’Hare, the head of development and marketing at NABA.  During my time there some of my tasks included writing articles for the newsletter, entering information into the organizations databases, conducting interviews and working during one of NABA’s fundraising events.

I wrote several articles for their annual news letter as well as their website.  I wrote an article for their website about the Blind Golfers Association, asking people to volunteer as coaches.  I also conducted an interview with NABA’s employment specialist and wrote an article about the Work Experience Training program she put together. 

What I was most excited about was the mail appeal letter I wrote.  I wrote it about Lois Winner, an elderly woman with vision loss.  The mail appeal letter is sent out asking people across the fourteen counties NABA serves to donate during the holiday season.  This mail appeal letter will reach thousands of people. It was exciting to know so many people would see something I wrote.  It was also a nice experience that I got to meet and have lunch with Ms. Winner and read her the letter I wrote.

Another task that really stood out to me was my work during NABA’s Casino Night fundraiser.  The fundraiser took place at the Albany Country Club and had more than two hundred guests in attendance.  My job was to sign people in and collect their information for the mailing list.  Although the job was not difficult, it was eye opening.  Prior to this internship, I had no idea the amount of work that went into a not-for-profit.  They rely on donations to provide support to those who need it, making fundraisers such as Casino Night a big deal. It was interesting to see all the preparation and dedication from people working at NABA to pull off such a large event.

I benefited a great deal from this internship.  Before working at NABA, I had a very limited idea about what it meant to work for a not-for-profit.   I now know that it takes a lot of work, and you have to be willing to do an assortment of tasks in order to help the organization.

One day, I ended up making salad in NABA’s kitchen for a luncheon they were having.  My internship advisor told me that when you work for a not-for-profit you have to be willing to do anything to help out, and sometimes that means making salads. That’s when I realized that working in a not-for-profit is something I could see myself doing as a career.  I like the idea of never sitting and doing the same thing day in and day out.   I learned a lot about what it means to be professional as well as the importance of performing tasks given to me in a timely manner.

This internship connected directly to being an English major.  Working on newsletter articles each week as well as working on articles for the website allowed me to use my writing skills.  I also got to conduct an interview with a NABA employee, as well as people that attended NABA’s Tech Fair.  I had learned about interview techniques in an English class I took Freshman year which made it easier and less stressful. Furthermore, I had to write emails and perform tasks in a timely manner, which I believe is relevant for every major, not just English.

My biggest advice to students about to embark on the journey of finding an internship is to go somewhere you’re interested in but might not know a lot about.  Going to a not-for-profit was so beneficial to me because it allowed me to see another side of business.  In my opinion, there’s no better time to try something new then during an internship.  You’re really not going to lose anything from going somewhere you don’t know a lot about, you’ll end up learning so much.  I now know I would like to work for a not-for-profit which is something I would have never learned about myself had I not interned at NABA.  

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