My time with Inland Seas is coming to an end this week, and the overarching theme of my internship is gratitude. My experience here has been filled with growth both personally and professionally. During the interview process, I set a few goals for myself to accomplish throughout my internship. These goals were broad but helped me to focus my intentions. My first goal was to learn more about nonprofit operations in general. I’ve had an interest in nonprofit organizations due to the nature of the work specifically how they blend business principles with doing good for communities. One impressive thing to me was the amount of responsibility everyone I worked with had to carry. Being a nonprofit, the funds to hire a large staff don’t necessarily exist, so a smaller staff has to take on a little more than what their title might invoke. I really admired how the staff at ISEA stepped up to anything as long as it helped spread our mission.
My other goals were more personal to me. I set out with the aim of mastering my interpersonal and technical skills. Writing these blogs has been a very beneficial experience for me, both in improving my writing skills and taking suggestions in a professional setting. The experience of meeting new people every day has also helped me become more intentional and direct in conversations. At times it’s been difficult to put thoughts into words, but having very active conversations with courteous people has been beneficial in my progress.
People are what made this experience so enjoyable for me. The staff, volunteers, crew, donors, and ship guests I had the pleasure of meeting all shared a similar light in that they shared their passion for the mission of advocating for the protection of our Great Lakes, with each other. No matter the role somebody had within the organization, this passion was apparent.
I really enjoyed hearing people involved with ISEA talk passionately about their jobs and hobbies. Inland Seas brings plenty of amazing people together. There are musicians, artists, writers, rock climbers, pastors, software developers, and students that all come together for a common cause. These people are best defined as “lifelong learners” and I think that’s where their passion for spreading ISEA’s mission to our participants comes from.
This internship was quite different from the type of program I was “supposed to find.” Instead of being in a corporate office wondering how to pass the time, I got to travel and live aboard our beautiful schooner while seeing a new side to the midwest cities of Detroit and Cleveland. While doing this, I shared wonderful stories about beautiful people and the good work they do. I was able to be one of the voices for a wonderful organization that shares a mission I’m deeply driven by.
The experience of living on the ship was something I get to have for the rest of my life. It’s a very unique experience, living within 40 feet of 10 other people, but that was part of the adventure. Vulnerability, communication, and understanding were the center of my time aboard Inland Seas. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to challenge myself, be a part of an exceptional organization, meet new people, and expand my mind.
Thank you to everyone I had the privilege of crossing paths with during my time with Inland Seas. There’s always something to learn no matter who you’re with and where you are.
This blog was written by Caleb Ameel, 2022 Marketing and Communications Summer Intern for Inland Seas Education Association. Caleb is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University with a B.B.A. in Marketing. In his off time, he enjoys kayaking, playing golf, and exploring the outdoors. Growing up in Traverse City, connection with the Great Lakes has always been important to him.