Sep 5, 2017

supported employment rise opens doors for people with disabilities ladies standing by logo

Posted on Sep 05, 2017


Rise welcomed a summer cohort of five interns in June who worked in program areas across the agency, including advancement, mental health, human resources, community innovation, and art therapy.

“We are excited about giving people the opportunity to learn more about nonprofits, social services, and specifically, disability- and employment-related programs,” explained Zoe Leonard-Monrad, Rise’s coordinator of volunteers and recruitment.

“Hopefully, they personally and professionally benefited from their experiences here at Rise 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 studied in a variety of areas.

Danielle (Dani) Banal has one year of study left to go at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She is majoring in child psychology, with a minor in family social science.

“I am interested in childhood mental illness as well as policies involving children and families,” said Dani. “I hope to work in the human service field, and am especially interested in the areas of adoption services, child protection and therapy.

“I chose Rise because I wanted to gain knowledge and experience in the human service field,” she added. “I have really enjoyed going out with other Rise team members and shadowing their meetings they have with the people we serve. Their stories are so incredible and it has been amazing to see them reach their personal goals.

“Everyone here was really supportive of and excited for all of the interns, and I felt very welcomed. I was comfortable in my role.”

Each intern worked on critical projects for the organization which advance Rise’s mission.

Hollie Christensen plans to graduate in the spring of 2018 from Creighton University in Omaha with a double major in medical anthropology and social work.  She hopes to work in social services and then attend graduate school.

“I am interested in understanding the systems and cultural components that shape health inequalities,” Hollie explained. “I also enjoy learning about how public policy influences accessibility to health services.”

Hollie said her internship at Rise gave her the opportunity to better understand the needs and desires of people living with disabilities. She especially enjoyed spending time with and getting to know the people served at the Community Integration Program (CIP) in Anoka and being able to focus on a project that enhanced community outings and activities in Rise’s day training and habilitation (DT&H) programs.

“I was not expecting to learn about so many different occupations throughout Rise,” Hollie added. “I’ve been able to job shadow and meet with different Rise team members and learn about their jobs such as occupational therapy and art therapy, along with the work of DT&H directors, case managers, and direct support professionals.

“Meeting so many interesting people from across the organization has exposed me to different perspectives and increased my overall awareness regarding the needs of the people Rise serves and the critical services it offers.”

“Because Rise has such diverse programming, we wanted a cohort model for the interns to be able to come together and learn from one another about the different areas and projects they were working on,” Zoe noted. “This also gives them a good opportunity to meet people with all different backgrounds and career aspirations.”

Molly Hou was an intern with Rise’s Human Resources Department and recently graduated from the University of Minnesota’s School of Management with a degree in accounting and from the College of Liberal Arts with a major in psychology. She would like a career as an organizational psychologist.

“I have enjoyed working closely with Rise’s HR Director Erin Braaten and Generalist Donna Klaphake on day-to-day work activities as well as an overview of the whole HR process,” said Molly. “It’s also been great to connect with the other Rise interns and learn more about the nonprofit world. This was a valuable experience and I appreciated the opportunity.”
Rebecca Urban hopes to incorporate many of the things she’s learned into her career.

She graduated from the University of Sioux Falls in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in art/psychology and is currently attending Adler Graduate School to earn her master’s in art therapy. Rebecca interned alongside Rise’s Art Therapist Stacy Gross with the Art Speaks program and hopes to work with individuals on the autism spectrum.

“Most of my work has been with children so I was excited to work with adults who have a wide range of disabilities,” said Rebecca. “I was so impressed with how each and every project that Stacy did had a purpose and intention behind it. Every project keeps in mind the goal of building a person’s self-esteem, and Stacy works hard to make sure each projects meets this goal.

“Stacy is so creative and uses many different items to paint with besides paintbrushes!” Rebecca added. “I have really enjoyed my experience and feel like I am coming away with many ideas and concepts I can implement in my future career. I have also been able to facilitate a mindset focused on intentional awareness and paying attention to each individual’s needs.”

Samantha Schoen graduated in May from the University of St. Thomas (UST) in St. Paul with a degree in business administration and management.

“I have always been interested in event planning, and after having my interest in non-profit organizations be sparked through one of my courses at UST, fundraising and advancement was the career path that combined these two passions of mine,” said Samantha.

Samantha was part of the Rise Advancement team which is currently planning the upcoming Celebrate Rise Fundraising Gala in October.

“In acquiring donations for our upcoming gala, I have built some great relationships with local metropolitan businesses, large and small,” she noted. “It is amazing to see how many people are happy to give what they can, as well as their gratitude for the impact our organization makes in the lives of the people we serve.

“My supervisor, Noel McCormick, and coworkers were always willing to offer me their help and allowed me to sit in on anything they think would expand my knowledge in the field of advancement. I am also extremely impressed with the cohort Rise put together for us interns which I think really enhanced all of our experiences.”

While a job offer at the end of an internship is not guaranteed (although President Lynn Noren began her career as a college intern at Rise in 1979!), Rise has hired some great people as a result. Samantha was pleased to accept a full-time position in Rise’s Advancement Department as a development associate at the end of August.

Internship positions are posted on Rise’s website at www.rise.org/jobs.

Photo: From left are interns of Rise’s summer cohort: Dani Banal, Samantha Schoen, Molly Hou, Rebecca Urban, and Hollie Christensen.

This article appears in the September 2017 issue of the Rise Reporter.