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Who Knew We'd Be Fish?


Dakota Sandras

The word “intern” often equates to “plankton of the business-world sea.” When I came into El Pomar, I knew the “big fish” were doing incredible things so I was excited to have even the smallest, plankton-sized role. What I didn’t know was that I’d get to be a fish, too. In the words of El Pomar CEO and Chairman Bill Hybl, “the El Pomar internship isn’t a summer job; it’s an experience.”

I underestimated El Pomar because I had realistic expectations.

In a realistic internship, I would gain experience in my field of interest. At El Pomar, I learned more about communications and media than in a semester-long class and about aspects of investing, grantmaking, business, finance, and the nonprofit sector that I most likely would never  have studied otherwise.

In a realistic internship, the senior staff members would be intimidating people that I rarely interact with. Here, the CEO and the president take time just to get to know us, the senior vice presidents are happy to meet with us and eager to help in any way they can, and the Fellows are constant mentors.

In a realistic internship, I would be spending eight hours each day developing a love-hate relationship with Excel and the office copy machine while doing the work no one else wants to do. At El Pomar, I was entrusted with the same duties and the same tasks the Fellows above me were doing – blog posts, video editing, graphic design, and more – making me feel valued and as though I was making a worthwhile contribution.

In a realistic internship, I would be thankful for the experience but ready to get back to school. Here, I am thankful for the experience and am heading back to my university with a craving for more growth and a new standard for what the business world should look like, wishing the summer would last just a bit longer.

Below is a link to a video with interns saying a little something about what they learned this summer. We all had a hard time limiting ourselves to 30 seconds since we had such exceptional positive experiences. But with all of us combined, I think we did a pretty good job of showing you that we weren’t just plankton at El Pomar this summer and we would gladly swim here again.