Rhea Kachroo

Rhea K

2015-2016 NPBI Cohort, Bachelor of Science (2016)

How did your experience in the program impact your life after graduation?

When I was in university, I was not the best student traditionally speaking. I did not have a 4.0, I was smart but I wanted to apply my skills to community building. I applied for the NPBI program because I wanted to learn more about how nonprofits are managed and support the work that they were doing. This experience gave me an introduction to a systems level view of an organization. By being involved in the governance of an organization, you learn so much about thinking innovatively, organizational culture, and how your work within an organization can be impacted and supported by a board. These were skills that many people do not have the opportunity to get until much later in their careers. This experience allowed me to establish myself in a unique way, and really prove to people that I was engaged, interested, and committed in deep and meaningful community work. 

What stands out for you as learning moments as a result of volunteering on a board?

Going through this experience, and working with a wonderful board, gave me the confidence I needed to apply for different types of jobs, build connections, and learn about the kind of work I find most impactful. By having this experience on my resume, I really stood out as a candidate when I graduated, and even though I did not have a 4.0, I had exceptional community engagement skills. The chance to work on a project also gave me something tangible I could share with potential employers so they were able to see an output of my work. Really though, my biggest learnings were from the board members and attending board meetings. So much of the work we do post-academia is around engaging people, building relationships, and being an organized and active participant in a workplace. Going through the nonprofit board internship with a cohort really gave me those skills that I still use today. 

Would you recommend this to U of A students and why? 

I would 100% recommend this to U of A students. If you have any interest in community engagement, working in nonprofits, or learning about community impact you should definitely apply for this internship. The skills you learn, and the projects you get to complete, are invaluable and are "real-world" experiences that we often don't get as students. You also have the chance to form meaningful relationships and continue the work beyond your internship. 

This internship gave me the skills and knowledge to get my first job when I graduated. It also has led me to work on many other exceptional boards, which doesn't always happen for people who are young and newly graduated. I use the skills I learnt in this internship in my work and I really believe it was a foundational stepping stone for my career. 

Today, I work for MacEwan University as a Solutions Lab Strategist in the Affordable Housing Solutions Lab. I get to work with partners and the community to come up with innovative ways to address affordable housing in Edmonton. The governance and relationship building skills I learnt through the internship are key to the work I do and I am so grateful for that experience. I also have the pleasure to work part time with the University of Calgary and Innovate Calgary to think differently around how we bridge the gap between academic and community-based research. 

I am grateful to be able to share my experience, and I hope that even if you do not engage in this specific program, you find other ways to supplement your education with being involved in the community - that is where you gain the skills to build a career that you want.