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Kresge summer intern finds inspiration in foundation’s mission; ready to give back to wider community

General Foundation News

Rebecca Chamberlain-Creanga

The Kresge Foundation recently kicked off the sixth year of its summer internship program after a break in 2020 due to COVID-19. Every summer Kresge welcomes a cohort of interns and fellows to work at the foundation for approximately 10 weeks. Internships are designed for undergraduate students, while fellowships are intended for graduate students. During their time at the foundation, interns and fellows are embedded within departments and work closely with foundation staff to experience what it is like to work in philanthropy as a grantmaker or as an operational team member. For summer 2021, Kresge has welcomed four interns to the foundation. 

In this Q&A, Neelam Gupta, data management intern with Kresge’s IT Department, discusses why she choose to spend her summer with the foundation, and what she hopes to gain from the experience. She also shares her rich life experiences as an international student from India, having just earned her master’s degree in business analytics from the University of North Texas G. Brint Ryan College of Business.

Kresge: Why were you interested in applying for an internship at The Kresge Foundation?

Neelam Gupta: The job opportunity that I got from Kresge is unique. The role leverages my information technology background, utilizing the cloud computing service Microsoft Azure, to help visualize and report on data for the foundation, while also helping me develop professionally with challenging assignments. Every single day at Kresge is like a learning experience for me – for which I’m grateful. And I feel so appreciated in the work I do.

I was especially drawn to Kresge because it builds on my not-for-profit background in India, where I am from. I used to work for the nonprofit arm of Tata Group – a renowned Indian multinational manufacturer of automobiles and other products. Kresge connects me back to my professional roots.

Another special thing about Kresge is the way it stands for equity and removing barriers to opportunity for people in America’s cities. I really appreciate the mission and vision behind Kresge’s work, and how everyone is so mission-driven in their day-to-day work.

Kresge: You mentioned the foundation’s social good mission. Is there something about working for a foundation in particular that interested you?

Neelam Gupta: Everybody here at Kresge is very enthusiastic and head-over-heels for their work and the mission. And they celebrate everything from small milestones to big accomplishments. It’s really a work environment everybody would like to be in.

Kresge: What do you wish to learn from your experience this summer?

Neelam Gupta: The first thing I want to learn is about giving back to a larger cause. I always had a vision to give back what society has given me. On this journey of life, with its ups and downs, I’ve been blessed with family and friends and resources to help me, so I believe it’s time for me to give something back to the world around me that has given me so much. I will give back through education or by fighting for the rights of other people, whether it may be LGBTQ+, Black Lives Matter or a similar movement. Being a part of Kresge will help me to work towards this vision.

Kresge: What’s next after your Kresge internship?

Neelam Gupta: Now that I’ve earned my master’s degree, I’m exploring full-time work opportunities or may enroll in a Ph.D. program in business analytics or data science. Right now I’m focused on enjoying my summer internship at Kresge and learning all I can.

Kresge: It’s been a difficult year and a half with the pandemic. What’s brought you hope during this time?

Neelam Gupta: During the pandemic, it was difficult for international students, like myself, when the borders were closed, and we couldn’t travel back to our country to see our loved ones. The thing I’ve learned in India is it’s fine if you’re not there during the good times, but it’s important to be there during the bad times. It’s important to be a part of other’s sorrow – but we couldn’t easily get home.

As we saw COVID-19 cases rise every day in America, myself and other international students were shocked; we never knew what was going to happen next and how we would be impacted. What brought me hope in the midst of all this uncertainty was my college. My professors and dean helped tremendously and inspired us through small and large acts of kindness of all sorts – from hosting small webinars to informal virtual chats. They used to tell us that we are all family, and we all have to fight the pandemic together.

So, this time during the pandemic taught me many, many things. I learned how important my family and friends are to me. I have a loving family back in India and some good friends in the United States, who helped me face the challenges that arose. And Kresge has become a sort of family to me, accepting me and bringing me hope during this time.

Kresge: Any final thoughts to share about your experience at Kresge?

Neelam Gupta: The type of work that Kresge is doing, and the opportunity that Kresge has given me, is tremendous. I will always remember Kresge as the place from where I started my career in the United States. Kresge will be a part of me for many years to come.