Letter to a Future Intern

The following letter was written by Summer 2019 Marketing Intern Zelma Mae Cable.

Dear future intern of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama (RMHCA),

If what you’re doing makes a difference for one family, then what you’re doing matters.”

April Dickerson, Director of Family Programming, gave me these words of encouragement during my first week at RMHCA and the phrase has stuck with me ever since. I truly believe no other sentiment could more appropriately sum up what I’ve learned while interning for the nonprofit. Let me break down that quote in order to share both what I learned here and some advice with you.

Intern stands (right) underneath RMHCA tent with 2 other RMHCA staff (left).

Zelma Mae (right) at the BBVA Carnival

If what you’re doing…”

As a Marketing Intern, I learned so much about nonprofit marketing, communication and social media management. This summer, I have been able to write blog posts, plan an event, draft social media messages, create graphics and even organize a month-long campaign (among other tasks). My supervisors constantly challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone, to be creative, to learn from my mistakes and to celebrate my successes.

Future intern: soak in every bit of knowledge you can glean from the staff at RMHCA and put care into “what you’re doing”– it will make your internship far more enriching than you can possibly dream of.

“… makes a difference…”

Throughout the summer, I’ve had the joy of learning more about how RMHCA keeps families together when they need it most. I used to think the flagship program (the Ronald McDonald House) was all the charity did. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The welcoming staff at RMHCA took the time to show me around and explain everything they do, including taking me to both the UAB and Tuscaloosa family rooms. In this way, I’ve seen first-hand the full scope of how the charity impacts families. Whether it’s a meal, a place to sleep, a room down the hall to rest and grab a snack, or a community of families going through similar situations, RMHCA is making a huge difference in the lives of real families.

Future intern: know what you’re doing really does make a difference. Every blog post, every Facebook post, every graphic made or envelope stuffed connects people with what RMHCA does. In all of your little ways, you are making a difference for families, so do your best for them.

Zelma Mae in front of RMHCA-branded background at the RMHCA 40th Birthday Party

Zelma Mae at the RMHCA 40th Birthday Party

“… for one family,…”

The responsibility of the charity is a hefty one. When I think of all the lives touched, families kept together, meals donated and burdens lifted, it overwhelms me. At times, it may seem your goals as an intern are unattainable due to the magnitude of the mission – who am I to try to make an impact on anyone, least all of these families? But the truth of the matter, and the heart of that mission, lies in the face of a single weary mother in need of rest or a single sibling in need of a hot meal.

Future intern: it’s tempting to only measure success in numbers – in blogs written, hours worked or graphics made. But know that if you’ve impacted the lives of one family, you have made an incredible difference. Know that you can’t possibly quantify how much you’ll grow as a professional and as a person during your time with RMHCA.

“… then what you’re doing matters.”

Perhaps the most important lesson I learned this summer is this: being a staff member of any nonprofit requires a heart of servitude. I truly believe you will be hard-pressed to find a staff anywhere that cares as much about their jobs and other people as the staff at RMHCA. They know that what they do maters, which is why they work so hard at it. As my time as an intern sadly comes to a close, I leave knowing what true servant leadership looks like, knowing skills which will help me in future employment endeavors, and feeling empowered to forever seek out ways to impact my local community.

Future intern: If you only take one thought from this letter, let it be this: don’t waste this opportunity to learn, to grow and to care for others. You won’t find another chance like it.


All the best,

Zelma Mae Cable


If you are a college student interested in interning with RMHCA as a Marketing Intern, Special Events Intern, Family Programming Intern, or General Intern, visit this page to get started!