By Brandy Hamilton, Summer 2014 Graphic Design Intern

I am a senior at Randolph-Macon College double majoring in Studio Art and Arts Management. This summer I interned as a graphic designer with a nonprofit organization called Hope For The Warriors® based in Annandale, Virginia.  This organization works to enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.

I was introduced to Hope For The Warriors® through my stepfather, who is a veteran.  My family has worked very closely with this organization and I had become pretty familiar with it before I began college.  My parents even gave a lot of their time to helping this organization by getting a disaster relief team together and traveling to New York to help with Hurricane Sandy relief, where Hope For The Warriors® has an office.

When I made my decision to attend Randolph-Macon College, I received a letter and a gift from the President/CEO, Robin Kelleher, who is a Randolph-Macon College alumna.  Robin has always been a wonderful help to my family and me, even connecting me with organizations offering military family scholarship opportunities for my school tuition.  When it came time to complete my academic internship for my major, I knew Robin would be a great resource.  I was then contacted by Anne Barnwell, the Senior Director of Communications at Hope For The Warriors®, who informed me that there was plenty of graphic design work for me to gain experience from this summer.  

When I began my internship in May, my biggest concern was how I was going to learn all the basics of graphic design and complete it to professional standards. After a few weeks of the internship I learned that my professional development was as important to Hope For The Warriors® as it is for me.  I was given feedback on all of the work that I completed, even if it meant making several attempts to get there. I was also asked throughout my internship if there was anything Hope For The Warriors® could do to advance my professional development.  

In addition to how Hope For The Warriors® benefited me, I learned how important my graphic work was for the organization. Hope For The Warriors® has a graphic designer who already has a huge amount of work on his plate; I was able to help the organization through my work. I created visuals that help supporters feel appreciated and inspired. I created graphics that could be used as profile pictures and cover photos on social media. I worked on documents that would help the organization raise money through sponsorship. 

I learned many things about nonprofit work, the professional world, and graphic design from my internship this summer. I think the most important thing I took away from this experience is how important it is not only to gain skills, but also what one can give to the academic internship opportunity.  That’s why I believe working for a nonprofit organization was the best choice I made, and definitely the most rewarding.