Thomas House Shelter logo

My name is Margaux Byass and I’m currently in my Senior semester, graduating with a degree in Strategic and Corporate Communication with a focus in Leadership. For the last few months, I’ve been the Development Intern with the Thomas House Shelter, a nonprofit which houses homeless families with children and empowers them as they rebuild their lives. This organization provides youth development programs, childcare, workshops, counseling, budgeting knowledge, and career aid among several other services.

The crux of the Thomas House is providing stability for our resident children and the necessary relief for our parents, so that they can actively pursue a sustainable life for their family. I found this amazing opportunity on LinkedIn! I applied through the LinkedIn platform, developed a resume, and described the way I perceived our values to align in the CV I attached along with my application. The next week I had a phone call interview with the Development Director, and shortly after I began interning! I really appreciated the opportunity to intern somewhere I can learn about organizational development while also working in support of an important cause. My duties as a Development Intern at the Thomas House involve community and corporate outreach, maintenance of external partnerships, direct communication with potential partners, data analytics and research. This position is amazing for someone like me who is both a people person but also enjoys computer organizational skills.

Youth Development

A fun moment during one of our weekly youth development programs.

I am lucky that I was so well prepared to take on this internship position because of coursework I’ve taken at Chapman throughout the years. Of course, since it’s a nonprofit organization which involves serving homeless in the Santa Ana area, the Social Movements course I’ve taken really made me appreciate the work I did in a more profound way and enabled me to better grasp the nature of the cause I’m contributing to. It allowed me to understand the need for social aid, ethical compassion and the importance of resources like homeless shelters. The tasks I preform and the way I approach them has certainly benefitted by having taken an Organizational Communication class too. It taught me lessons and practices that I use every day, making me better equipped to collaborate within my small team effectively and dynamically. I’ve been lucky to be a part of so many campaigns and events throughout my months interning, including our back to school drive, Thanksgiving appeal, Halloween celebrations, food drives and important apartment renovations done without cost by Sea Pointe Construction.

Sea Pointe

Cutting the ribbon to a newly renovated apartment! Sea Pointe Construction donated their time, materials and labor into renovating this unit, and others, for new coming families

2021 Halloween party at the shelter, thrown for the resident children.

felt like part of the team since I’ve been able to participate in several events with the Thomas House, including our golf tournament charity event where I was able to engage and speak in-person to potential stakeholders. This was an opportunity I found to be less nerve racking and more fun than I expected, and gave me a chance to build my confidence and practice in a networking situation. Though most notably, we had our 35th annual Autumn Reflections gala in October, which is an event that is largely responsible for raising much of our funding. I was excited to be a part of this, and I was thrilled to be able to help. Because I have personal connections to Tito’s vodka, I was able to translate these relationships to facilitate Tito’s becoming a sponsor of our event. I felt like I was able to contribute to the group, and to the cause, which was incredibly rewarding to see something tangible happen from beginning to end.

Though the workplace culture is one of my favorite parts for certain. Everybody is extremely friendly and tight knit; we laugh with each other all day and have a level of genuine care for one another. We talk openly and freely, often collaborating with team members of all levels and positions.

co workers

To the right is my supervisor, Mark Wolf, the Development Director of the Thomas House. To the left is Shakoya Green, the Executive Director of our organization.

tg dinner

Setting up for Thanksgiving dinner celebrations for the residents of the shelter, all food was donated by the Hyatt Regency of Orange.

Perhaps one of my biggest takeaways from my internship experience at the Thomas House is that I really do best in this type of collaborative working environment, and it will be important for me to find a similar culture. Though, just as importantly, I have learned how critical it is to work within an organization which shares your values and involves something you have a connection and care for. I would highly recommend an internship in the development field, and, more specifically, certainly at the Thomas House. If you’re a self-starter and love a friendly and relaxed environment where everybody is treated equally, I would completely say it’s for you. I advise you to find an organization that aligns with your values, and I believe that for many, a nonprofit organization like this will resonate deeply.