OU students pose with Norman Firehouse Art Center Executive Director Douglas Shaw Elder during the 2018 Nonprofit Open House.
Nonprofit Program Forges Connections
OU Nonprofit Studies is relatively new at the university, but the program is growing momentum and has hosted several successful events over the past few years. Through the Department of Political Science, the Nonprofit Studies Program offers a Public and Nonprofit Administration Major, as well as a Nonprofit Organizational Studies Minor. The program hosted successful Open House in September 2018, as well as a would-be internship and career fair that transformed into hands-on workshops due to weather cancellations.
Open House 2018
In September of 2018, the Nopnrofit Studies Program hosted a Nonprofit Open House. This event was designed to forge connections between OU students and local and state nonprofit organizations on a more formal level than the program's Internship and Career Fair. The event had a great turnout of over 100 students and dozens of local and state nonprofit organizations.
Some of the represented nonprofits included Norman Firehouse Art Center, Community After School Program, Habitat for Humanity and Palomar Justice Center. Several nonprofit organizations expressed positive response toward the open house, some stating that the experience not only gave them the opportunity to interact with OU students, but also other nonprofit representatives with similar values.
Turning Cancellations Into Connections
The OU Nonprofit Studies Program 2019 Internship and Career Fair was set up to be one of our biggest events to date, but when winter weather ambushed central Oklahoma, safety was the main priority. With roughly 40 nonprofits traveling across Oklahoma to meet with OU students, the decision to cancel was obvious and the university-wide cancellation soon followed. The career fair was postponed for the following week, only to be canceled, once again, due to winter weather safety concerns and an OU cancellation from President James Gallogly.
Even though the fair was canceled for this semester, the program wanted to offer our nonprofit partners an opportunity to visit campus and get hands-on training from Diana Hartley, professor of practice and nonprofit faculty member. The Nonprofit Studies Program hosted two Internship Workshops on the ninth floor of Dale Hall Tower, inviting any organization that wanted more information on tailoring their internship job descriptions, how to connect with students, and general internship practices.
Nonprofit professor Diana Hartley speaks with local and state nonprofits regarding best practices for internships during a campus workshop.
The two Internship Workshops gave the nonprofit representatives the opportunity to ask professor Hartley any internship or nonprofit questions, as well as bounce feedback off of other nonprofits in attendance. Nonprofits attending the meetings included Calm Waters Center for Children and Families, Great Expectations, Community Literacy Centers, YWCA of Oklahoma City, Sharing Tree, Loveworks Leadership, J.D. McCarty Center/Camp ClapHans, Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity and Oklahoma City University Office of Advancement.
"Even though the weather wreaked havoc with our originally scheduled events, we were still able to connect with interested nonprofits. Our two small group meetings have already resulted in new learning opportunities for our students. Internships focusing on storytelling, video development and special event management are being created for the fall semester as result." -Diana Hartley
The Nonprofit Studies Program looks optimistically into the future, with student enrollment numbers rising and event attendance booming, things are going up from here. One thing is for sure, though: next year, the career fair won't be scheduled in Februrary.