Committed to CLE | The Start of an Internship

At 21, as an almost-senior in my undergraduate college career, the world is my oyster.  I could travel to Europe, take up a trendy new hobby in California, or spend some quality time lounging in the Florida sun.  Yet, I chose to spend this summer in Cleveland, Ohio: home of the Cavs and lake effect snow.  At least, that’s Cleveland in the eyes of non-Clevelanders (aka the unfortunate souls of society).  This city is, in a lot of ways, a hidden gem.  Yes, the city covers 82 square miles and yes, the buildings are so tall they can be seen for miles, but Cleveland remains hidden. The potential, the character, and the opportunities that lie in this bustling city are often overlooked. However, they rival the best in the nation.  This is why I chose to spend my last summer as a college student committed to—or rather, engaged to—Cleveland; fittingly, I am overjoyed to be interning with Engage! Cleveland. Maria Photo Living in a suburb of the city, I grew up attending musicals at Playhouse Square, rooting on the Indians (or the Windians, as I like to call them) at Progressive Field, and idolizing my favorite singers at the House of Blues.  However, I never really considered Cleveland to be a poignant part of my identity—that is, until I moved to Columbus for nine months out of the year to attend school at The Ohio State University.  Suddenly, Cleveland became my identifying trait. The first thing anyone new ever asked was, “Where are you from?”  Not to mention the laughter and constant fascination over my “Cleveland Accent”.  No, I will not say “fire” or “Snapchat” for you!  These trivial things aside, though, over the last few years I realized that Cleveland is more than just the region in which I happen to live.  Cleveland is a part of my life in the same irreplaceable way my family is a part of it.

As I sat in my room in Columbus searching for internships this past March, I told myself that I would only apply to opportunities in Cleveland.  Sure, that meant that I was limited in terms of what organizations and companies were available; however, I wanted to truly see and be a part of what Cleveland has to offer.  Where did I see myself, though?  As someone completing a degree in Strategic Communication, and completing minors in Fashion & Retail Studies and Russian, the field of internships was wide open.  Did I want to apply to a fashion brand, to a news channel, or to an athletic team’s marketing program?  After all, the reason I chose a major in such a broad area of study was because of just that—broad, general opportunity.  I applied to over fifteen internships, but in the back of my mind I worried that I would only get a very specific experience.  How could I be involved in all of Cleveland and its incredible businesses and organizations?  The short answer is that I could not!  It absolutely seemed too good to be true—until I stumbled upon Engage! Cleveland.

PhotoReading the internship description, I realized that this nonprofit embodies all of my passion and enthusiasm not only for Cleveland, but also for my long-term professional goals.  I truly feel that this organization is something special, and it is an opportunity I would be foolish to pass up.  Needless to say, I applied, interviewed, and was offered the position.  It is an exciting and enriching opportunity, and I look forward to these next two months.  I am already greatly inspired by Cleveland Young Professionals Week and cannot wait to see the tremendous networking opportunities that come out of a mere seven days.  It is only day two on the job, and I can already tell that the next two months with Engage! will be incomparable.

I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason, and they happen at non-negotiable times.  This opportunity could not be more perfect for where I am at in my life right now on my way to becoming a YP in Cleveland!  With one year of school left, it is difficult to know what I will be doing tomorrow let alone after graduation.  However, one thing is clear: I am, and will always be, committed to CLE!


Maria is a senior at The Ohio State University majoring in Strategic Communications and minoring in Fashion & Retail Studies and Russian. She is interested in all things Cleveland—especially the sports teams and creative culture! Maria is Engage! Cleveland’s summer intern and is excited to learn a ton about what it means to be a YP in CLE!