“Working 9 to 5”: My Internship with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

As a child, I loved running to the mailbox each month to receive my book from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. My family would snuggle on the couch and read together, pointing out familiar words and admiring the colorful illustrations. Two decades later I interned with the organization that sparked my passion for reading.

My internship focused on The Dollywood Foundation‘s Homecoming conference, which connected Imagination Library affiliates, authors, and literacy researchers around the globe. This year the Foundation pivoted to a virtual gathering instead of hosting the event at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort in Tennessee. I helped the Foundation organize the event platform and communicate with the speakers and attendees. Although this was the first virtual Homecoming, our team was determined to bring the magic of the Great Smoky Mountains right to attendees’ homes.

Man holding a book and reading to an infant in a bassinet
Brooklynn’s dad reading to her as an infant.

The best part of this internship was working with the wonderful people at The Dollywood Foundation. I worked closely with the Affiliate Relations Manager, the Director of Operations, and the Director of Marketing. Everyone at the Foundation is passionate about promoting literacy and helping children develop a love for reading. I enjoyed meeting the people who carry out Dolly’s mission, and I always looked forward to our team Zoom meetings.

The Homecoming conference gave me the opportunity to connect with Imagination Library affiliates who run programs in communities worldwide. Before the conference began, I worried that the virtual format would prevent affiliates from interacting with one another. In reality, the virtual platform seemed to facilitate connections because everyone could post messages in the various chat rooms. People from around the world took selfies in their Homecoming t-shirts and shared them with us. Imagination Library author/illustrator Ed Vere gave a drawing lesson, and everyone posted photos of their sketches on the event site. At the Fundraising 101 session, the chat blew up with messages as affiliates shared stories about their own fundraisers and exchanged contact information. I realized that virtual events provide unique opportunities for individuals to share ideas and build relationships across borders.

I enjoyed interacting with the attendees and speakers, and the two-day event passed quickly. Organizing a virtual conference had seemed impossible back in February, but the whole team pulled together to make the event a success. After the closing session, the Tennessee team called me on Zoom from their conference room at DreamMore. I laughed and shouted “We did it!” when I saw their smiling faces huddled around the screen. My computer kept pinging with notifications as attendees filled the conference chat with messages saying how much they enjoyed Homecoming. I felt sad that my time with the Foundation was ending, but I was honored to have played a role in supporting the Imagination Library’s mission.

This internship impacted my career goals because it taught me about non-profit work. I’ve always wanted to become a teacher, but The Dollywood Foundation gave me the opportunity to explore other careers that involve working with people and helping children. Although I still plan to become an educator, I learned that I can pursue different career paths and use my communication skills outside of a classroom setting.

I’m grateful to The Dollywood Foundation team for making me feel like part of the family. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library played a significant role in my childhood, and I loved supporting the Foundation’s mission of spreading literacy around the globe.

Brooklynn Gross
DPIL Internship Recipient, 2021
Alpha Xi Mu Chapter
Augustana University, Sioux Falls, SD


Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Internships

Two virtual internships working for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will be offered exclusively to undergraduate and graduate members of Sigma Tau Delta for spring 2022.

Internships for Spring 2022

Internships run February 1 – May 31, 2022

Affiliate Service Pilot Project Internship
Marketing Internship

Candidate Membership Eligibility

Active Sigma Tau Delta undergraduate and graduate student members in good standing during the application period and members of chapters located within the 50 United States are eligible to apply. Members who have or will be graduating during the 2021 fall semester are also eligible to apply.

Application Dates and Notification

The application deadline is Monday, November 8, 2021, 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time (CST). The internship will be awarded in January 2021.

Each internship will require a separate application.

More from Footnotes: November 2, 2021

2022 Convention Submission Deadline Extended
Internship Stipend
Chapter Project Grant
Outstanding Chapter Advisor Award Submissions

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