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T/m Summer Internship Benefits UMKC Student

What do toys, miniatures, and the corporate world have in common? Plenty as one UMKC student learned this summer!

Earlier this summer Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures (T/m), and the Bloch School teamed up with Altan Sodnomragchaa, an international MBA graduate student with the help of Dr. Brent Never for an exciting applied-learning opportunity.

Altan held the Edward A. Smith Internship, a full-time, paid experience, offered to several Bloch students each summer. These selected students benefit from a chance to learn hands-on in a non-profit, community, or government entity, tailored to the organization’s needs and the student’s interests.

At T/m, Altan served as the Strategic Initiatives Coordinator, reporting directly to Executive Director Petra Kralickova while working closely with Bekah Boyer, Sr. Manager of Development, and Dr. Madeline Rislow, Sr. Manager of Learning & Engagement. Altan interviewed numerous local businesses, of varying sizes and scopes, about their workplace culture — particularly how they were affected by the pandemic. Her research will be an important baseline as T/m launches a formal corporate membership program, offering team-building workshops through the backdrop of the museum’s collection of toys and fine-scale miniatures.

As her internship comes to a close, Altan toured the galleries with T/m Marketing and Communications Coordinator Sarah Biegelsen (MA – Public History 2022) to reflect on her experience.

SARAH BIEGELSEN: What drew you to UMKC?

ALTAN SODNOMRAGCHAA: I knew I wanted to get my MBA degree as soon as I finished college in Taiwan. I moved back to live with my family in Mongolia, but after working as a teacher there for a little over a year, I decided to move to the USA. I was hoping to make my childhood dream come true and start my career in America. Getting out of my comfort zone, staying 6500 miles away from home, bringing myself to completely strange place was hard, but no pain no gain. It was worth it!

SARAH: How have you been impacted getting your Master’s at UMKC and living in Kansas City?

ALTAN: I first applied for the Master’s in Public Administration but, after my first semester, I realized I was more interested in corporate business, so I decided to switch to the MBA program. Now I am confident with what I am learning and going to do in the future.

I feel like in America, there is almost too much freedom but tons of opportunities that show that anyone can succeed. It’s not easy for international students like me to live in the city, but I am getting used to it. For me, Kansas City is a very friendly and warm place where I can improve myself more.

SARAH: What have you learned about yourself in your work at T/m?

ALTAN: I have learned how to communicate with businesses and develop my time management skills. I also discovered that having good teammates makes my job/project easier. Through my interactions with businesses and non-profit organizations, I learned that both are empathetic, care about the Kansas City community, and that each of their work is forpeople.

SARAH: What advice would you give to other interns, international students, & MBA students?

ALTAN: Good question!

For interns: Be well-planned before starting your internship and get good information about what your organization does. Also, the first impression really matters.

For international students: Make more connections, know what you want to do, and don’t limit yourself; know that you have more power than you think.

For MBA students: Learn to sell yourself, choose your emphasis very carefully, push and pace yourself with your studies and other responsibilities, and have fun.

SARAH: If you are more interested in corporations, how did you end up focusing on a non-profit this summer?

ALTAN: Non-profits and corporations can support each other perfectly. Corporate businesses can focus on a bottom line AND support causes their employees care about; non-profits cannot survive without financial support and rely on contributions to positively impact society.

SARAH: How has this internship affirmed or changed your career goals?

ALTAN: I didn’t have that many goals before I started my internship at T/m. After getting used to the work culture, I have more ideas for my career path. I was always interested in project management, but I fell in love with it now. Also, I will take data analysis classes that will help me grow those skills I don’t have. Although I was nervous to interview so many companies for my corporate project at T/m at first, I became more self-confident and comfortable speaking to new people and making more connections. Now, I am ready to do my next step confidentially.

SARAH: Why should the UMKC community visit T/m?

ALTAN: Because it’s on campus and it’s free! Jokes aside, everyone has an inner child, and T/m brings out inner joy for everyone.  Believe me, you will love it!

UMKC faculty, students, and staff all enjoy free general admission to the T/m galleries! Show your Roo Card to visit T/m for Wednesday-Monday 10am-4pm. Students can also rent the ILE classroom space for FREE to facilitate group meetings and request access to select collection objects for class projects and additional research.

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