You are currently viewing NIU today |  NIU IGNITE Intern Dylan Lonteen Takes Advantage Of Opportunities With DCCA

NIU today | NIU IGNITE Intern Dylan Lonteen Takes Advantage Of Opportunities With DCCA

Seeking to add real-world program management experience to her resume, Accelerated MBA Student Dylan Lonteen found an opportunity through the IGNITE program that piqued his interest.

“I had started looking for part-time jobs on Indeed and found a position at DeKalb County Community Gardens. said they were in partnership with IGNITE. I was very interested in that, and after interviewing, we got the ball rolling,” Lonteen said.

IGNITE is an internship program at the NIU College of Business that allows students to do paid internships with local businesses and nonprofit organizations. The student works for their organization and the college subsidizes the student’s salary.

After a successful interview process, Lonteen joined DeKalb County Community Gardens (DCCG) as a program analyst and supported the GrowMobile project. GrowMobile is a joint initiative of DCCG, UNITEDVolunteer Action Center, DeKalb County Health Department, DeKalb County Community Action Office and Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Health and Wellness. GrowMobile is a mobile food pantry delivering freshly grown produce to food insecure areas of DeKalb County. Lonteen’s main responsibility is to oversee the development of the program and write operating procedures to ensure its effectiveness.

“When I started in this role, I was able to attend a few GrowMobile distribution events. I took notes and got hands-on experience in handling these events. Then I came back to our office and started writing a step-by-step plan for others to follow to handle this distribution,” Lonteen said. “I work in collaboration with the director of the GrowMobile program. Together, we have this plan in place so that if someone replaces her, they can do so without any prior knowledge.

Lonteen, who played shortstop for NIU baseball, noted the internship was his first entry into the job market.

“As a college athlete, I hadn’t really had the opportunity to work before. My mother worked with non-profit organizations and I grew up around them. It made the job with community gardens really appealing to me. Plus, the position offers first-hand insight into things you don’t usually learn in a classroom, like company culture and how to communicate in the field, in the moment. Everyone here has been great,” he added.

“From an organization’s perspective, a big part of being involved with IGNITE is the ability to have an intern for a one-year commitment. What’s really exciting for us is being able to work with graduate students like Dylan,” said Jackie DiNatale, Associate Director. “Dylan’s impact has been tremendous. He was very open and flexible. Before he came here, we didn’t have a lot of procedures developed for these programs. I had an idea, a framework for what we wanted. Dylan listened, gave us great feedback, and we worked together to put strong operating procedures in place.

Lonteen is currently completing work on GrowMobile Procedures and will soon begin working at DCCG Walnut Grove Professional Farm where he will create similar operating plans for the farm’s program offerings.

“In my IGNITE internship, I met a lot of new people and got a lot of hands-on experience,” Lonteen said. “At first, I didn’t realize how many volunteers DCCG received. I had never experienced a food distribution event before. When I went to distribution events, we often had 25-30 volunteers here to help us. We also had cars lined up, full of people who needed our help. It really opened my eyes to see how much impact DCCG has on the local community. All I could think about was how amazing it was.

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