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How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Interning at the Children’s Tumor Foundation

By July 23, 2015March 14th, 2024Awareness

By Georgia Dodd

Throughout the month of July, the Children’s Tumor Foundation benefited from the support of three interns. These high school students worked side-by-side with us for four weeks, learning about neurofibromatosis, supporting the development team and fundraising programs, logging science research articles, and assisting with communications projects. We asked one of the interns to reflect on her time with CTF.

Over the course of my four weeks at the Children’s Tumor Foundation, I have learned more than I ever could’ve learned at school. Before I signed up for my internship in New York City for the summer, I had never heard of neurofibromatosis. When I received assignment, I quickly looked up everything I could about NF and I soon learned that this disease affects 1 in 3,000 individuals in the US alone. Even though I continued researching, I realized that NF didn’t have that much information or acknowledgement among the general public and that despite numerous, well-established clinical accounts, confusion between NF1 and the Elephant Man’s disease persisted in the media and even among physicians. I looked into various organizations that supported persons with types of NF, planned events to raise awareness or researched to find a cure. CTF does all of these things and more. The people at CTF dedicate their time and money to finding a cure for all types of NF worldwide through awareness, funding, and assisting in development of clinical centers and better practices.

At CTF, I worked in both the development and communications departments under Michael Divers and Simon Vukelj, respectively. During the first week I helped Michael gather contact information for the Gala event invitation list. This project, although timely, taught me the importance of networking and how it can benefit an organization as a whole. The following week, I helped Simon with several different research projects, including a competitive industry study and a review of best practices for nonprofits using Facebook. I also began the file for 2015 media clips, saving all of the articles to help facilitate reporting that will take place later this year.

This is my first internship, seeing as I’m only going into my junior year of high school, but I feel as if I have had an actual job. I have to take the subway every day, pay for my own lunch, and I even get my own cubicle with office supplies and a computer! This internship has taught me a lot about responsibility and independence, and that I am capable of taking care of myself. This internship has also taught me about the importance of being positive in the face of adversity. I’ve read so many stories of courageous adults and children living with NF who bravely face each day and can still be enthusiastic. It has made me realize that everyone has a fighter in them that can be called upon whenever to help us through times of need.

During this internship, I have thought a lot about what I would want to do after high school, but I still can’t decide. I know that I am interested in writing and journalism, and hope to include these hobbies into a possible lifestyle in the future. I have realized over this internship that I do enjoy working for a nonprofit; I feel that it gives me a sense of pride in my work knowing that it will somehow help someone. So I guess all I really know is that I want to help people anyway I can, and that’s enough for me at the moment.