Mombello ’19 takes on internship at Obama Foundation

Lizzie Mombello ’19 has accepted a new challenge this semester as a Cornell Fellow with the Obama Foundation in Chicago.

Lizzie Mombello in the Obama Foundation officeThe sociology and Spanish major from Overland Park, Kansas, is working on a variety of projects, and she says perhaps the biggest project was one of self-discovery.

“This experience has been the best preparation for life after college,” Mombello said. “I am caring for myself in a way I never have before and I’m challenging myself to live on my own and discover my professional self.”

The Cornell soccer player moved to Chicago in January to take on her role as the development department intern. She says every day is different, but she felt ready to take on the work with her Cornell experience.

“Cornell provided me so many opportunities to prepare for this internship,” Mombello said. “My work with the tour guide program, the women’s soccer team, Student Senate, and my academic departments have each offered me chances to build the skills and knowledge I now use every day. On my first day, I felt totally frightened and overwhelmed, but on the second day, I was ready. I knew I could handle any of the projects and assignments. There’s this Cornell mantra that after the block plan, anything is possible, and we can do anything in 18 days and now it feels so true. The block plan had just as much of a role in my preparation as my amazing professors.”

Mombello wrote a blog throughout her time in Chicago, sharing about her schedule and work with other teams. She especially related to the mission and values of the Foundation.Lizzie Mombello in the Obama Foundation office

“The mission of the Foundation is to ‘inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world,’” Mombello said in a blog post. “The key words for me here are ‘their world’ because these worlds can be very different, but are all changed through the power of people. The Foundation acknowledges the diversity of communities, and that our worlds are unique, according to the space, the individuals, and the community. This intentionality is what excites me about my internship. Everyone I work with is intentional in their work, and cognizant of how their work relates to and supports the values of the Foundation.”

As part of her internship, she also selected a special passion project. Mombello hosted interviews and conversations with Obama Foundation staff to understand how diversity, equity, and inclusion are incorporated into hiring practices and the ways that diverse staffs are maintained in a professional setting. Lizzie Mombello in the Obama Foundation office

Mombello says her Cornell Fellowship has solidified her future path.

“I have confirmed my interest in development, and my interest in non-profit. I’ve never felt more sure of this career path,” Mombello wrote in her blog. “Even though I’m not sure exactly what will be next, I feel more professionally prepared and self-confident than I ever have before.”

Mombello wraps up her internship on May 10, just in time to return to Cornell for graduation. As she arrives back at the Hilltop, she’ll be glad to be home.

“There are so many Cornell comforts that I appreciate more now,” Mombello wrote in her blog. “I no longer eat breakfast in the company of my Cornell Breakfast Club, and my mornings feel a bit slower because of it. Home is no longer just five minutes away from any spot on campus, I can’t forget anything when I leave for the day. My professors aren’t nearby to offer me readings and advice, two things I feel would be wonderfully useful at this point in my experience. Now, the Hilltop Cafe sounds too good to be true, and I would be happy to wait in the Sunday pancake line right now.”

Cornell fellowships are the college’s premier opportunity for high-level internships and professional mentoring, and it comes with a sizeable stipend to help students afford expenses like transportation and housing. Approximately 20–25 students participate in fellowships across the United States and internationally each year, the majority of them taking place during the summer.

Cornell Fellows will present about their internships at the upcoming Cornell Fellows Showcase on Wednesday, April 17 at 6:30 the Thomas Commons.