During my time with Nine13sports this summer, I had the opportunity to learn many lessons. With everyday being a new and interesting adventure, and a staff that allowed me to learn through hands-on experience, I had the optimal first internship experience that taught me skills I did not think I would learn like adaptability, critical observation, and leadership.
Although these skills are important for a successful individual, I feel that confidence was the most important and most improved skill I walked away with. I struggled with confidence in the beginning because I was unfamiliar with the program and the organization, and with the hands-on internship experience that this is, I was a little overwhelmed. As a slight perfectionist and someone that aims to impress, struggling with getting a grip on all of the moving parts of the organization tested my self-confidence.
The turning point for me was during my third week of my time with Nine13sports on a day where we were at Damar for Damar Games. Throughout my internship thus far, I had seen kids get really excited when they see our bikes set up in the gym, especially among those that have never ridden a bike. But on this day, I got to see this on a different level. The kids we saw do not get to experience riding a bike often and some of the kids were beaming because they were able to successfully ride on our bikes for the first time. I thought this day would be the hardest day for me, but it ended up being an influential one and one of my favorite days with Nine13sports.
I loved connecting with the kids at Damar and it was very easy to teach the program when I was having a really fun time talking and riding with the kids there, instead of worrying about whether I am doing it perfectly or not. It completely changed my perspective and my approach when leading the program. Instead of trying to adjust my personality or trying to make my delivery perfect, I focused on making sure the kids we worked with had fun, which made me have fun with it too. Doing this helped me have more confidence in my interactions at each site. I have never been a bubbly or overwhelmingly outgoing person, and at the beginning of this experience, I thought I needed to be. But, taking a different approach to the same program, helped me find a confidence leading the program that I was happy and comfortable with. When working with kids, it is important to have confidence when you are teaching kids so that they will listen to you and understand what you are saying, and finding that confidence helped me not only be more successful as an intern, but also helped me develop qualities of a leader.
In the office, advocating my own work to coworkers required confidence to convey that I was certain my work would be a solid addition to the organization. Most internship descriptions advertise a hands-on experience, and at Nine13sports, they mean that one hundred and ten percent. Throughout my time at Nine13, I was given projects that pertained to my interests, but were also very challenging and exposed me to things I had never done before. As a college student with limited real-world experience, I had to find the confidence to take on those projects and present my work even though I thought of myself as “just an intern.” Being challenged and tasked with presenting my ideas that would add a real component to the programs we do, allowed me to develop skills and qualities that I can utilize in my future career and in leadership roles at Purdue University.
In the months I spent with Nine13sports, I learned to be confident in my abilities and find ways to be confident in areas where I struggle. Thank you to Nine13sports for the challenging yet incredible internship experience that provided me with areas to grow as an individual, worker, and a leader. More importantly, thank you for providing programs in central Indiana that inspire kids to cultivate their own confidence, in more ways than one.
Naira Caceres Martell
Summer 2019 has been my first time working for a non-profit organization and when I look back and think, it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Interning at Nine13sports has taught me so many things that are so valuable to me as a person and as I enter the “real world.”
First of all, if I had to choose my favorite memory it would be working with the kids at the Newcomer Program. These kids come from all parts of the word and they have little or no English proficiency. For me, it was very easy to be on their shoes because as an international student, I know what it feels to be new to a different country, a different culture and a different language so I was very happy I was able to communicate with lots of the students in Spanish (my mother language) and learn about their lives and experiences. It was a very eye-opening experience and it definitely helped me have more perspective in life and being grateful for what I have.
Furthermore, at school I usually learn about how for-profit organizations work but thanks to this internship, I have had the opportunity to expand my knowledge about Nine13sports functioning and insights. I have learned that a non-profit organization cannot have successful long-term fundraising campaigns without marketing, and during my time here, I have realized the importance of being where people are searching for organization like this one, or the importance of taking time to speak to the people who are interested in us. In addition to that, it is good to see that terms I have learned in class such as “Word of Mouth” are actually being utilized in this field. As a marketing major, it is very helpful to gain experience that I know I will be using during my business career.
Moreover, working for a non-profit organization that is so committed to make the Indianapolis community better is so satisfying. This summer I had the chance to work at the Special Olympics and it was a very rewarding experience to see how much of an impact we, as an organization, can have on other people’s life just by using the bicycle. “I have never seen my daughter so committed to something” or “I wasn’t aware my son liked riding the bike this much” are some things some parents told me while their kids were participating at our Kids Riding Bikes program. At the end of the day, it is very gratifying to know that my job is valued and that it can help people discover their passion for the bicycle.
To conclude, my experience at Nine13sports has taught life lessons and working lessons that are extremely valuable to me and which have made me grow as a student, as a worker and most importantly as person. Nine13sports has lots of potential and lots of upcoming projects, so, I am excited to see them grow and evolve as I enter my senior year of college.
This internship has given me numerous opportunities to improve my skills. One of the benefits of interning with this organization is they make sure you pick an area of the business that you are interested in and want to focus on. Chris, our internship program director, makes sure to check up on us to see how we are improving and what goals we want to work on next. If I feel I am lacking in a certain skill I can always sign up to work on an assignment that will help me improve it. Since being at Nine13sports, I have improved upon several different skills such as leadership, communication, and writing skills. Writing has never been one of my strengths so having the chance to write a few blogs has been a great experience. I have also had the opportunity to sit in on meetings with other staff members which has given me the chance to learn a lot. These meetings have improved my listening skills as well as taught me how others lead and how meetings are run at Nine13sports.
I believe that the skills I have improved most while interning at Nine13sports are my leadership skills. By leading the Kids Riding Bikes program and encouraging the kids I have developed confidence in my own leadership style. Public speaking has not always been a strong skill of mine, but leading this program has really improved that. One of the main reasons I have made progress in this area is from watching and learning from other staff members. I watch how they speak and encourage the kids and I try to be just as enthusiastic and encouraging as they are. They each have unique ways of keeping the kids engaged and motivated to stay positive. The kids feed on our excitement, however it is just as important to get the kids to encourage each other as it is to cheer them on yourself. The first day I was so nervous to lead the program, but now I am excited every time I get to do it! Even though there is always another staff member present, it is nice to know that I have built the confidence to be able to lead the program by myself. Before this internship, I have had the opportunity to lead kids in small groups, about 2-3 kids at a time, now that I have had the chance to lead large groups I’ve learned that I enjoy it very much! I have learned that it takes some practice to be able to lead and encourage a large group of kids but it is extremely rewarding.
The practice and experience I get at each event or program has taught me a lot. In addition to learning how to lead and encourage a large group of kids, I have learned how to adjust to who your audience is. We interact with little kids who barely fit on the bikes to young adults entering high school, and believe me they do not want to be treated the same way! These are important skills to have and I am grateful that I was able to have this experience and improve upon them during my time at Nine13Sports. I know they will be valuable to have when starting my future career.