The Joys of Interning with PaperSeed

by Nicole Fuches

Summer 2017

My name is Nicole Fuches, and I am a rising sophomore at Redwood High School in Larkspur, California. I spent a large portion of my free time this summer interning for Novato’s PaperSeed Foundation, and I cannot think of any other way to have passed my time.

Working to strengthen the community has always been a passion of mine. Within the past two years alone I have given my services to the Marin County Free Library, Marin Food Bank, the Marin Women’s Commission, and I even began a female empowerment club in middle school! My experience with these beneficial organizations taught me how much influence we all have in our society, allowing me to understand the importance of work for the community. So, when I went in search of a summer internship, I was quite ecstatic when I was given the opportunity to work with PaperSeed.

The nonprofits that have always been closest to my heart were the ones that focused on education for underserved children and empowering girls and women all over the world. When I discovered that these two objectives were made a priority in the partnership projects that PaperSeed chooses, I knew that this match was meant to be.

At the commencement of this internship, I had a few key details that I was eager to learn, such as the fundamental laws of grantmaking, general rules for social media campaigns, as well as how a nonprofit professional can earn a sustainable salary while managing to fund impactful projects. Not only did I receive the answers and experience that I needed for these questions, but I also learned which databases are optimal for managing donations, how to schedule all of one’s “daily” social media posts at once, and how to create effective images for social media.

Although I found all of this information to be quite valuable, I was most taken aback by how this nonprofit not only receives financial support from individual donors and community fundraisers, but from a commercial business as well! By teaming up with CellMark, a profitable, world class supply chain service provider, all of PaperSeed’s administrative costs are covered, allowing 100% of donations to be dedicated towards the organization’s grassroots education projects. Of all the answers I had initially expected towards how a nonprofit employee can obtain a viable salary without sacrificing the community, this was the last one I would anticipate, and I am very impressed. This partnership has made PaperSeed even more impactful. For example, for ZanaAfrica, one of PaperSeed’s Kenyan projects, CellMark partners worked with PaperSeed to ship pads multiple times, allowing 10,000 girls to stay in school. With this advantageous assistance, I do not doubt this will be the future model of other nonprofit foundations. 

Since many jobs do not come with a traveling component, I did not suspect that a nonprofit professional could have a traveling career, but I was quite mistaken! After a potential grantee submits a letter of inquiry and a project proposal is accepted, a site visit must be conducted in order to clearly visualize where and how the money will be spent.

If interested in working in a position similar to this one, I would confidently recommend coming to PaperSeed for a fulfilling experience. Not only will one gain the skills described, but they will be greeted by a friendly environment of dedicated colleagues, and will ensure that all needs are met without hesitation. One of the key elements that drew me into this internship was that I needed to know the road to take for devoting one’s life to nonprofit work, and if I was meant to take it. I now know that this field will be taken into serious consideration for my future, but other extracurricular passions have me remaining undecided. However, if I decide to pursue a nonprofit career, I have learned the pathway from start to finish contains various nonprofit jobs to better comprehend each organization’s unique financial approach, as well as a diversity of volunteer work.

Once in college, degrees in communications, business, psychology, or even liberal arts are strongly recommended, according to PaperSeed staff. If determined to eventually start one’s own nonprofit organization, a master’s degree from a graduate school of business can give the extra information needed for this area. Before starting one’s own, many have suggested expanding one’s nonprofit law knowledge, establishing trusted mentors, and further developing one’s technical skills through another nonprofit beforehand.

In summary, I have received one of the most beneficial experiences in my entire life from the PaperSeed Foundation as a summer intern! I began with a myriad of questions and doubts, but in the end, they were all resolved by this foundation’s positive, encouraging team members! Whether one strongly knows that their life will be dedicated to nonprofit institutions or not, PaperSeed welcomes all with open arms, and will give interns an abundance of useful nonprofit information as well as guide them towards their career pathway! I would not trade this experience for anything, as I had a meaningful opportunity to promote female empowerment and global education, which was all I could have ever asked for.