Internship Blog Series #4: Regina Garcia Gomez ’23

Our internship blog series continues with an interview from intern Regina Garcia Gomez ‘23. This summer Regina interned at PROP (People Reaching Out to People) food shelf, an organization based in Eden Prairie that works to meet the basic needs of the people they serve as well as provide skills to set clients on a path toward greater self-sufficiency. St. Olaf staff member Carolyn Pierson ’06 sat down with Regina to learn more about her internship experience this summer.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? What drew you to this internship initially?

I’m a junior this year, an international student from Mexico, majoring in Environmental Studies, Economics and French. At St. Olaf I work at the Annual Fund as a supervisor, will be a Supplemental Instruction leader/tutor for French, and I’m somewhat active in the Women in Business club when I have time to go to the meetings. 

I saw the post on Handshake and read the description and thought: I can do all those things! My job at the Annual Fund is essentially what I would be doing at PROP, which is fundraising, donor outreach. The post also mentioned marketing experience and I took marketing classes in high school, which I loved. I was drawn to being able to do a little bit of everything I know and enjoy. I didn’t know much about PROP itself–I just saw the posting and applied, not really having my hopes up because I knew so many people were applying to it and then I got it and it was really exciting!

What have been some of your responsibilities as an intern and did they change over the course of your internship? What is one of the highlights of the summer for you?

Initially the job was a lot about donor connections, learning and organizing the database, and inputting donations. I did a lot of marketing for PROP, helping with the 50 year-campaign. I was able to write my own grant with the help of the grant writer at PROP, which was really exciting. The internship evolved in the sense that I had the best possible bosses who let me do the things I enjoy while also letting me dip my toes in the water everywhere. I was able to hold informational meetings, take notes, do the marketing, to serve as the liaison between PROP and different companies, and I even reached out to some organizations and raised money on my own.

The biggest highlight and best part of this internship has been the people that I’ve met. My first week my boss, Mary Brown, told me she wanted me to meet as many people as possible. So she gave me a whole list of people she wanted me to hold informational interviews with. The amount of people I’ve met because of her has been wonderful. I got to meet PROP supporter Tim Maudlin and all these other people who are beautiful humans and I’m so glad I got to chat with them. The interviews started out with general conversation about why they are involved in PROP but by the end it was a very fun, personal connection I got to make with all these people and all my coworkers; they were all wonderful. While I of course enjoyed the work, I think the people were the best part of the job. 

This was my first internship and I was unsure of how to go about it, but my boss was so understanding and encouraged me to “know that you are able to do this now and tell future employers that you are very capable of doing things, and hold yourself up high.” 

Being a “good neighbor” seems to be at the core of PROP’s mission which is similar to the Lutheran Center’s mission of fostering love of neighbor. Could you comment on what you learned about being a “good neighbor”?

The Eden Prairie community is not a huge community. But as I worked with PROP, I saw all of these little businesses and random people come in to help each other. We had this mom drop off $40 from her kids who held a lemonade stand and wanted to give the money they raised to PROP. It was just so heartwarming to see how people care so much. It kind of relates to St. Olaf and the Lutheran Center in that it’s not a big community, really, but you have so many people with different needs and people who are willing to help. I see that through the Annual Fund where I work–people are just wanting to give back to the campus they love, similar to PROP where people are wanting to give back to the city where they love.

How has your internship experience impacted your sense of vocation and plans for the future?

It has really put into perspective the privilege that I have and what I can give back. Talking to people and seeing all these scenarios play out throughout the summer with different people coming in and out of the food shelf reminded me that I’m just this little person in this big world but I can do something to help. To see these kids who came in with their $40, that was huge to them, and it was great to be a part of that. I have these connections now that can help me be a bigger part of a community than I currently am. That’s been a big thing and something I learned throughout the summer.

Watch Regina’s full interview: