Intern cohorts contributed much to Rise

Aug 29, 2018

internship opportunities working for people with disabilities

Rise welcomed a summer cohort of six interns in June who worked in program areas across the agency, including advancement, accounting, assistive technology, human resources, marketing, and program development.

Using the cohort model, interns also participated in biweekly training sessions to discuss a variety of professional development topics and learn from each other.

“We are excited about giving people the opportunity to learn more about nonprofits, social services, and specifically, disability- and employment-related programs,” explained Erin Braaten, Rise’s vice president of human resources. “We hope they personally and professionally benefited from their experiences here and perhaps will consider a career in this field.”

The interns came from a wide range of Minnesota and out-of-state colleges and universities, and are pursuing degrees in different areas.

Matt Klein, data analysis
Matt is a math major heading into his senior year at Saint John’s University in Collegeville. He plans to pursue a career in data analysis or a similar field.

“I came to Rise because the internship really fit what I was going to do with my future,” said Matt. “I was also really excited about how the agency provides opportunities for growth for people who otherwise may not find such a position elsewhere in the community.

“I was the first data analyst intern that Rise has had, so in a sense, I felt I brought something new to the company — working with data sets and creatively interpreting and showcasing them for the rest of the company.”

Sarah Bergen, program development
Sarah will start her senior year at Marquette University in Milwaukee in the fall where she is majoring in nursing with a business administration minor. After graduation, she hopes to go into health research with a primary focus in women’s health issues, and perhaps one day, teach.

When she found Rise’s Linked-In listing for the internship, Sarah said she “thought it was a miracle” as the position would incorporate her nursing compassion and her business insight.

“Rise has an atmosphere that is hard to put into words — it is magical,” said Sarah. She helped structure a job club at Rise’s Coon Rapids site for people who were new to the job search process.

Rachel Wilson-King, program marketing
Rachel graduated in May from Macalester College in St. Paul with degrees in political science and sociology, and a minor in legal studies. She will be attending the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota in the fall pursuing her master’s in public policy. Eventually, Rachel would like to do policy analysis and research in the field of education for a nonprofit or government agency.

Rachel initially came to Rise last spring as a government affairs intern.

“Grassroots advocacy, engaging with law-makers, and providing legislators with real, person-centered examples of why they should support Rise’s mission, were all areas and skills I improved with my internship. I loved that Rise primarily focused on that grassroots and self-advocacy piece as I think it is so empowering for people to have real opportunities to connect with the legislative process on a personal level.”

Rachel followed up with a second internship position at Rise in marketing and outreach this summer.

“Even though I don’t have a background in marketing, the research and outreach aspects of my projects helped me create some marketing products which I hope will be of value to Rise teams.

“My internships with Rise provided me with so many opportunities and connections which will be invaluable to me,” Rachel continued. “Not only have I gained a better sense of the nonprofit and disability services industries, but the people whom I’ve met—Rise team members, the people they serve, as well as community and business partners — are what I’ve been most grateful for.”

Morgan Parke, assistive technology
Morgan will be a senior this fall at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities studying speech language hearing sciences. She plans to attend graduate school for speech pathology and get her license to practice.

“I chose to intern with Rise because I am passionate about helping others gain communicative and personal independence,” said Morgan. “I am intrigued by the advancements of assistive technology and how Rise has incorporated various forms of it throughout its programs. Through my work here, I was able to gain a wider knowledge base about the field of assistive technology and who it can benefit, as well as see it in action.

“I answered questions about and made adjustments to people’s assistive technologies. I researched and helped improve the systems used to advance the program and improve people’s independence. I also developed guides for Rise team members to address and fix common technology issues.”

Josh Stainer, human resources
Josh graduated from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth with a degree in psychology and minors in management and organizational behavior. He is pursuing his master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology at St. Cloud State University. He worked with Rise’s human resources team to improve training and human resources practices.

“Rise’s mission to provide opportunities to people with disabilities and other challenges really resonated with me,” said Josh.

“I would like a career in training and development and/or change management. My internship provided me with valuable experiences which will help advance my future career and professional development.

“I helped identify areas in which training can be improved, specifically looking at the direct support professionals’ position. Training is frequently related to employee turnover, so by improving training, employee turnover might decrease.”

Jackie Bell, development and special events
Jackie began her final year at the University of Minnesota Morris in August, majoring in business management with a minor in communications and an emphasis in dance. She would like to have a career in event planning.

“I wanted to learn about the nonprofit business world so the development and special events internship sounded both fun and educational,” said Jackie.

“I was really drawn to Rise’s mission. In working on the upcoming Celebrate Rise Fundraising Gala, I learned more about what it’s like to work for a nonprofit and the many facets of hosting a successful major special event for the public. I hope I also contributed additional ideas for Rise’s social media and recognition committees.”

Rise’s internship positions are posted on our website at

Photo: From top left: Josh Stainer, Matt Klein, and Rachel Wilson-King. From bottom left: Jackie Bell, Morgan Parke, and Sarah Bergen. They learned a lot from their internships as well as from each other.