Name: Natasha Marie Levanti
Hometown
: Sarasota, Florida   
Academics:
Double major in leadership studies and international studies: world politics and diplomacy
Internship:
Community Youth Development, particularly on TheLookUp941.org, a database of activities for teens. 
Career aspiration:
Government or nonprofit work addressing social change and differences.
On Campus activities:
Resident Assistant for 2009-2010, will be abroad for 2010-2011

What drew you to this particular organization?

In the summer of 2009 I interned with the City of Sarasota. I conducted research into a variety of problems facing the local community, how the city was working to address these problems and whether those tactics were working. Since I am torn between government and nonprofit careers, I thought it would be interesting to compare how a local nonprofit in Sarasota addresses some of the same issues that the government addresses. I wished to learn about the various approaches to the same problems. That led me to Community Youth Development, an organization that believes by addressing the developmental needs of teenagers, one betters the community as a whole by teaching responsible and involved citizenship.

How did you land the internship?

Since I grew up in Sarasota, I had been involved in Community Youth Development’s leadership training, which allowed me to be a voting member on several government boards while still in high school. With this connection, in addition to recommendations from my previous internship with the City of Sarasota, the director of the organization was receptive to the idea of my internship. Over Spring break I had an official interview with CYD’s director, and was offered the internship.

What projects are you working on currently? What are you doing/what are your day-to-day responsibilities or tell us about projects or the big picture

Within Sarasota, many non-profit organizations are trying to decrease risky teen behaviors. Part of this initiative is a database of positive activities for youth called, TheLookUp941.org. This has been my main project. I have updating the website, pitching ideas to businesses, promoting the website, meeting with parents to get the information out, and presenting to summer camps groups. We hope to increase knowledge about the importance of students being busy in positive activities when they are out of school. When youth are engaged in positive activities,  studies have shown that students will benefit by gaining life skills and by being less likely to engage in risky behaviors.

Are you finding connections between what you’ve studied in Jepson classes and what you’re learning on the job? Please give examples.

I am reminded everyday of things I have learned in a classroom. Across the community I find a variety of styles of leadership, and am able to see whether that style is conducive to the situation. Meeting with business leaders, parents and students I have learned how leadership must really adapt to the situation. Since I want to be viewed as an effective leader myself by all three groups, I must adapt my approaches for each situation in order to be successful.

Is this something that you see yourself doing after graduation? Why? Or how do you see this experience benefitting you in the future?

Though I plan on going to graduate school after undergraduate, I feel that the skills I have learned during my internship will be carried with me throughout my life. Through interacting with different groups of people I have learned more about my strengths and weaknesses leading others, in addition to learning how to make convincing presentations. I have also learned about running a non-profit organization from grant writing, fundraising, website maintenance, to the importance of networking.

After the summer’s over and you’re back on campus, in an ideal world, what will you have gotten out of the internship experience?

My work on TheLookUp941.org has been largely independent. I have come to be sure in my own decisions. I feel that it is an important life skill to learn how to make decisions and be responsible for the outcomes, both good and bad.