The Research Triangle Park

My Life-Changing Internship with RTF

By Aug 16, 2016

Hi! You may know me from around RTP and The Frontier. My name is Nicole and I am just wrapping up an internship with the Research Triangle Foundation. This internship has changed my life in so many ways. I have built an amazing professional network and made life-long friendships along the way.  The things that I have learned through this experience will serve me well throughout my career.
 
As I’m on my way out, RTF is officially hiring another intern! Trust me, you don’t want to miss this opportunity.
 
Before you submit your application, take a look at my top five reasons to intern with RTF (and a little about my experience):
 
You will get great exposure and networking opportunities: In the short time that I spent working for the Research Triangle Foundation, I met so many people that I literally had to create a spreadsheet for all my contacts. RTF does a serious amount of programming, like The Frontier’s weekly happy hour, or 1 Million Cups, which is a weekly entrepreneurship series. There are also a lot of fun events, like RTP180, a monthly Ted-X style event where presenters talk about different industry topics. Since I was new to the area when I started my internship, it made making friends that much easier. It also gave me an advantage when it came time to find a full-time position.
 
You will get to become BFFs with a bunch of dogs: I am possibly the biggest animal lover in The Triangle. I cannot pass a dog without petting it. Luckily for me, The Frontier allows pets! I started carrying dog treats in my pocket and quickly made friends with all of the pups that were regulars. I became known as “The Fairy Dog Mother of The Frontier” (ok, so I gave myself the title…catchy, right!?) The tricky part was remembering all of the owners’ names. Word of advice, mnemonic devices help! Shout-out to my girl Sophie, whose excited kisses made my day every time I walked into The Frontier.
 
You will never be bored, and every day will be an adventure: When people have asked me what I did at RTF, I sometimes responded with a quippy “whatever they tell me when I show up that day!” I would, of course, follow up with a more relevant answer. But the truth is, every single day was different for me. Some days I would be attending a luncheon with the Board of Directors, other days I’d be spray painting giant lollipops. This internship really had a neat balance of traditional professional duties and unique opportunities to be creative. There were also a lot of little adventures, like jumping in to help out when a pipe burst in the kitchen at The Frontier, or driving to the Counter Culture headquarters to pick up coffee and getting to see the roastery in action. This job is like something you have never experienced before and likely will never experience again.
 
You will get to engage in a lot of non-profit work: I really enjoy any opportunity to give back to my community. I have so many causes that I am passionate about, and sometimes it’s hard to contribute to all of them. Luckily for me, RTF partners with a lot of non-profits to give back. In my time with the Foundation, I was able to help make a difference in the lives of kids with disabilities, veterans, cancer survivors, those who are hungry, at-risk youth, and more. I even came up with the idea for an event called “Pups N Trucks,” where we bring in an animal rescue organization once a month to our food truck rodeo. It always feels good to give back, and RTF is a firm believer in making a difference in our community.
 
Your ideas will matter: I’ve heard a lot of stories from classmates about internship experiences, and they all had one common theme: interns are the bottom of the totem pole. When I accepted my internship with RTF, I expected to be making a lot of copies and fetching even more coffee. Boy was I wrong. From day one I have been treated as an equal member of the marketing department. I am invited to most of the marketing team meetings, and have my own marketing projects to work on. One thing that has meant the world to me is that my ideas are always welcome and appreciated. I am full of ideas, and believe me, they haven’t always been great (“What if I wore a hot pink tutu to work until we meet our fundraising goals for Komen!?”). That said, my ideas are always considered and given fair feedback…many of them were implemented and did very well! Being given the opportunity to make real contributions to the team really built my confidence and helped me to implement the things I’ve learned.

I want to take the opportunity to thank all of the friends I made along the way. The Frontier is truly one big family. Thank you to Justin, Ben, and Hemed with Storyboard, Tristan and Leslie with Triangle Ultimate, Roz and Heidi with Hines, Christy with National Inclusion Project, Kerry and Theresa with Indoff Office Furniture, and all of the staff and tenants at the Research Triangle Foundation and The Frontier. You have had an insurmountable impact on my life and I am forever grateful.

Now excuse me while I go listen to Taylor Swift, cry into my Ben and Jerry’s, and reflect on this amazing experience…