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SPAA Internship Spotlight: Kimberly Sanchez – Satya Retreat Foundation

Name: Kimberly Sanchez
Degree Program: Bachelor of Arts
Major: Public and Nonprofit Administration
Expected Graduation Date: May 2025
Name of Organization: Satya Retreat Foundation
Location of Internship: Sedona, AZ
Title: Retreat Assistant Intern

Summary of Responsibilities:
As a retreat intern, I provided administrative assistance to the president of Satya Retreat Foundation. My duties varied greatly, ranging from organizational restructuring of silent retreats to building budgets for construction projects on the property where the retreats are held. Sometimes I was called upon to help with manual labor, as I helped landscape a major gardening project alongside many other volunteers in the community. The bulk of my responsibilities consisted of helping facilitate the summer silent retreat. This included guiding participants through an orientation to discuss certain guidelines and what was to be expected during their experience. This facilitation also required me to organize fundraising and marketing events for future retreats as the goal of Satya Retreat Foundation is to make holistic healing through yoga and meditation accessible to everyone.

Favorite Aspect of Internship:
This internship experience was extremely immersive for me. I had the opportunity to integrate all my studies regarding nonprofit management into my work. My favorite part was working so closely with my site supervisor, Sitara Van Block, the founder and president of Satya Retreat Foundation. She has so much experience in starting multiple nonprofits all over the world. She invested in my development during the internship. My questions were answered with great detail, and any input that I had that I felt could be an asset to a project was considered. I felt a reciprocal exchange form between her and me, and it not only inspired me but it also affirmed my career path in nonprofit management.

Career Goals: 
I am pursuing a career in nonprofit management. My goal was to bridge the gap between my passion for holistic health and public service. An ideal career would be to either start my own nonprofit or manage a nonprofit that I feel aligns with my goal.

How did the service-learning course help you navigate your internship responsibilities?
Professor Michael Dillard served as an amazing resource for career progression in public service. This course provided me with tools that I did not even know existed. This course truly fostered a community amongst my peers in that we were able to read and take away from each other’s experiences. I was able to take a lot of constructive feedback given by my peers and my professor into consideration and apply them to my internship responsibilities. I feel it enhanced my experience working with Satya Retreat Foundation.

What kind of skills did you learn during this internship?
I learned how to develop my leadership skills and my communication skills. I always felt that I would do best in a role of management but I did not realize how much I needed to exercise my voice in that role. My site supervisor pushed me to voice my opinions in retreat facilitation, meetings with potential donors, and even meetings with the town regarding building permits. It was extremely empowering to be an integral part of that, and I could see the improvement in myself.

Has your mentoring part of the internship been helpful in navigating your career goals?
An emphasis should be put on the importance of a strong mentor/mentee relationship. I feel so fortunate to have one with both my professor and my site supervisor. I was never stressed throughout my experience because I felt there was an established open-door policy. I felt comfortable enough to ask for guidance and to check in on my performance. I feel this will help shape me to be a suitable manager as these are the kind of relationships that I would like to foster with my future team someday.