Internships often serve as pivotal moments, shaping career trajectories and offering invaluable experiences. The Social Innovation Forum (SIF) has consistently provided a platform for budding professionals to flourish, as echoed in the narratives of two former interns, Jimena Chavez and Liz Cipparone, who shared their remarkable journeys post-SIF.
Recollections of Time at SIF
Jimena reminisces about her Programs & Events co-op during the spring of 2021, spending six transformative months with the Accelerator team, working alongside Sarah Dingee, SIF’s Senior Program Manager. Her tasks ranged from researching potential program-affiliated organizations to contributing to the Capacity Camp program. Liz, a 6 month fellow in 2011, initially delved into researching nonprofits for the Accelerator program selection before transitioning into development tasks and helping to identify a recipient of a Business Innovator award*, which recognized commendable social justice work within the private sector.
Jimena viewed this role as an opportunity to learn more about the social sector from a different perspective than her prior co-op experience with The Resilient Sisterhood Project. Liz, fresh out of her undergraduate studies in Spanish and History, found SIF through a fellowship program at Root Cause, SIF’s parent organization at the time. The fellowship opened her eyes to the expansive world of careers within the social sector, steering her onto a new career path within that world.
Enduring Connections and Skills Post-Internship
Both Jimena and Liz attribute substantial growth to their SIF tenure. Networking emerged as a pivotal skill acquired for both Jimena and Liz, with Jimena fostering connections across nonprofits, funders, and more, leveraging SIF's robust network. Liz, inspired by SIF's Executive Director, honed the art of intentional network weaving, a skill she found instrumental in subsequent roles focused on building cross-sector networks to tackle issues in K-12 education and the environment. Additionally, grant writing, due diligence, and an understanding of nonprofit capacity building emerged as crucial competencies nurtured during her time at SIF.
Jimena's ties to SIF persist, as she credits the organization for pivotal introductions leading to her current role as a Content Manager at Breaktime, a 2021 Social Innovator. Liz transitioned into a full-time business development role at Root Cause post-fellowship, continuing her affiliation with SIF while diversifying her experiences in nonprofit capacity building, leading her towards her current work as the Associate Director of Network Leadership at Growald Climate Fund.
Advice for Future Interns
Jimena’s advice to future interns emphasizes seizing opportunities for exploration and maintaining connections within SIF’s nonprofit and funder community, leveraging the wide-reaching impact of SIF. Liz stresses staying connected with SIF's ethos even beyond the internship, by fostering learning and collaboration across organizations and uplifting community expertise to advance social problem solving.
Jimena and Liz's narratives epitomize the transformative power of SIF's internship program. Beyond the technical skills, it instilled a profound understanding of the social sector, building relationships, and fostering an enduring commitment to social impact—an invaluable legacy carried forward by SIF's alumni.
"Finding the fellowship at SIF was quite lucky, honestly, because I feel like it set me on a certain path within the social sector that has been very fulfilling.
- Liz Cipparone
*Note: For four years, SIF ran a Social Business Accelerator to connect social impact business leaders with growth capital. In 2016, SIF ended the program, re-focusing its work on nonprofit organizations
About the Author: Lauren is SIF’s Communications & Events Co-Op. She is a senior at Northeastern University where she is majoring in Music and Psychology, with a minor in Ethnomusicology. She is interested in community engagement with an asset-based community development lens.