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Interview with Miles Williams

Grants Intern Miles Williams in Socrates Park. Photo: Maria Eliades

Miles Williams has always been interested in helping people as a part of his career. The Summer 2019 Grants Intern at CIANA signed on to see how his academic experiences and background could translate to real world experience in how non-profit organizations work and overcome challenges. Miles chats with Director of Development and Communications Maria Eliades about his internship experience at CIANA, the knowledge he gained by writing grants, and his career aspirations.

Maria Eliades: Why did you decide to intern at CIANA?

Miles Williams: When I first came here, I was talking about my mother about how she had come from China for college. She always told me that she didn’t speak English and how hard it was for her. I didn’t have that experience, so it made me realize you don’t actually know what these people are going through and what obstacles they’re actually facing. I thought it would be pretty cool for me to get a feel for how non-profit organizations are successful in what they do with obviously the big obstacles they are facing.

ME: When we interviewed you, we really liked the fact that you really personally connected with the mission. That meant a lot to us. We were like, ‘yup, he gets it.’ That was one of the things that sold us, ‘we want Miles’

What has it been like applying writing skills and everything else you have to the work of direct services without doing direct services?

MW: Coming in, I wasn’t really sure how things work in terms of grant writing, but I thought I could apply my research and writing skills towards it. The big thing for me was seeing how the whole grant application process works. The first grant I did was a very big government grant. I thought all grants were all like that. I didn’t know there were different levels, so it was interesting to see what kinds of grants they have for different organizations.

One of the things I liked about interning here at CIANA is that even though my role was grants intern, I wasn’t necessarily contained within that. I was exposed to every aspect of the organization. I was able to learn a lot of stuff as well, so I thought was really special. Everyone here is super helpful, I think as I said with the learning aspect, I think that’s an opportunity that not all people get when they’re interning. I think they are confined to sort of small roles. I really like that CIANA is small and feels very much like a family. It’s cool to see how many interns and volunteers are here. In that aspect, you know everyone you’re working with has the same passion and mindset toward the overall goal to help these people and everything like that.

ME: That’s so great. How do you feel that interning here has helped you in terms of figuring out what you might want to do as a career? Do you see yourself working in grants in the future or do you see yourself going on another route?

MW: I think it was really helpful in allowing me to see really what's out there. Working in a non-profit was very interesting. I think it’s something that is sort of less common, maybe, or something that not a lot of people get to experience, so I am happy I was able to. I got a real feel for what I would like to do, because I was working grants but I was able to see what other people were doing. That was pretty cool.

I think CIANA offers a kind of unique experience for their interns. It’s broad but also focused at the same time, broad in the sense that you get to experience a lot. So, I am really grateful for that and it will help a lot in thinking of what I want to do next.

ME: Where do you see yourself after graduating?

MW: I’ve always been interested in the social service area. I feel like I want to be part of something that is directly helping people or at least working to achieve a goal that is benefiting people. Something where the goals are more focused towards having a bigger impact, that’s a good thing.

ME: What has been your favorite part of interning here?

MW: I think that would be the size of the organization. It’s very small and I actually prefer that. With the size of this place, everyone is really close and it’s really easy to work and communicate with everyone. Everyone is passionate and has the same mindset towards what you’re working towards.

ME: Is there anything you’ll miss when you’re gone?

M: The people of course. I really enjoyed just coming here and thought it was a very comfortable environment and it was a lot of fun. People here are really nice. I hope the next place I work at is very similar. I will definitely miss a lot at CIANA.

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