Claire Collins ’21 gets her bearing in event logistics and project management at Special Olympics Oregon in Portland, OR

Claire Collins, 2021

Psychology Major & Intended Gender Studies Minor

Special Olympics Oregon, Portland OR

A day in the life of working as an intern at the Special Olympics Oregon office can mean many different things. Some days it means helping with spreadsheets, or sending emails. Others it means going out to different schools or other venues to help with events that SOOR (Special Olympics Oregon) puts on. Still others, it means organizing or putting together projects in the storage room. Every day comes with a new project or challenge that I get to learn about and then help complete.

Thus far this summer, SOOR has put on several big events that I have had chance to help out with. Because of their connection with sports, SOOR has had several events in coordination with the Timbers and the Thornes and their stadium, Providence Park (The Timbers and the Thornes are Portland’s men’s and women’s soccer teams, respectively). One of these said events is the 50/50 raffle. The 50/50 raffle is a program used in coordination with many different sporting events in which half the proceeds go to the winner, and the other half go to non-profit organizations. In the case of the Timbers and Thrones, that non-profit organization is in part the Special Olympics and in part Hands-Together Oregon. This means that SOOR provides volunteers to help sell the raffle tickets at the Timbers and Thornes games, and as my status as an intern, I got to be one of those volunteers. This meant going to the Timbers and Thornes games and walking around selling raffle tickets. It was great to get out and inform people about SOOR while selling tickets, and in the process work on some customer service skills!

Another event aligned with the Timbers by means of being hosted at Providence Park was a Unified Experience. This Unified Experience was an event that hosted several Unified Champion Schools and gave them an opportunity to connect and play on the Timbers home field. Preparing for an event like this one gave me a unique perspective into what it’s like to organize on a large scale. There were so many different moving pieces that needed to be completed, it was hard to keep track of it all. But it was great putting in the preparation time to see all the athletes having such a great time.

These event days are usually in the minority in terms of what I do on a day to day basis. Most of the time I am in the office putting together various spreadsheets or sending out emails, usually in preparation for one of the larger events. And while this can be tedious at times, it means I have grown in my learning of computer programs such as excel. Even though I am using similar programs on a day to day basis, every day I am working on something new. The internship with SOOR is always changing and always keeps me on my toes. I am constantly learning and very rarely bored.

Experiences like Claire Collin’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez

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