My SIDAR Experience

When asking a 5 year old what they want to be when they grow up, it is easy to get an ambitious and excited response like “Doctor!” or “Astronaut!” or even “Princess!”, but it is highly unlikely that the response to this question would be “to work in Development and Alumni Relations at a Higher Education Institution”. Yet, fast forward years later, and this is the dream of many people, including those at Rutgers University.

During our ten week SIDAR internship, we were fortunate enough to meet a variety of people working among different departments of the foundation, and had the chance to ask them questions about their career and current work. When asked about their path to development, most responded by saying that they, “fell into” this type of work. They noted that this career was never their first intention or their ultimate dream, especially when asked as a child, but that somehow life’s twists and turns lead them to a path at the foundation. Along with that answer, they also responded by saying that they could not be happier that they did find their way there.

In the months leading up to May of 2016, I began to become a very anxious Senior who had yet to find a job. While friends of mine were signing contracts and getting signing bonuses I was left to debate if I truly had worked hard enough in my undergraduate career and was deserving of a full time position. I decided to take one last leap of faith, and attend the Rutgers University Spring 2016 Career Fair, in hopes that some company would like me enough to pick me up and offer me a job so that my anxiety and future worries would disappear. I discovered that the Rutgers Foundation would be attending the event, researched more about the work that they do, and decided to take a stroll by their booth. This is when my falling began.

I fell into a conversation with a man who seemed so entranced by the work I had done in my undergraduate years, my prior internships, and my extracurricular that I knew right away there was a professional connection between us. He told me that I needed to apply for this new summer internship in development and alumni relations as I would love the work being done, and that the SIDAR program could help me grow in my career. While I was skeptical about taking an internship out of college and not a full time job, with the support of my parents and mentors, after interviewing, I fell into the position as a SIDAR Intern from June until August.

When the internship began, I continued to fall. I fell into the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Department, not the first on my list, but one that I wanted to embrace with my whole heart once I was assigned to this area. I fell into being a part of some of the most important work that I could have ever imagined, learning more about healthcare, the medical schools, the Cancer Institute, and all the good that the department is able to do for the world with the support of its benefactors. I fell into having the most wonderful, supportive, and kind unit host, who was able to teach me so many things over my time interning. I fell into the most incredible staff, a type of comradery and support one could only dream of having in their first professional environment after graduating college. And I fell into a best friend, my partner Sean in the unit, who has pushed me every day to be the best version of myself, no matter what was handed my way. Over 10 weeks I fell into becoming a stronger, more independent, and driven person, with the help of the wonderful staff at RBHS and the foundation.

Not only within my department did I fall, but with my cohort I continued to fall as well. I fell into a group of nine other amazing students. Undergraduates and graduates who wanted to do all they could to better the world. People who were passionate to come to work every day and make the most of their experience to absorb all of the knowledge they could about the field. I fell into having people that I know I can rely on for a lifetime, no matter what. These people are some of the most incredible people I will ever work with in my life, and I am honored to not only call them peers but also friends. I fell into a lifetime bond, the inaugural group of SIDAR interns, the start of an incredible and giving program, with some of the best and brightest Rutgers students to lead the path.

I am more than excited to say that after this internship and the incredible experience I have had during these ten weeks, I will continue to fall. I will fall into a new role as a Development Associate within the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences department at the Rutgers Foundation. I will be able to take the skills and life lessons that I have learned from each individual in the foundation, and begin the path for the rest of my life. I will be able to continue to fall into work that I have longed to do, finding ways to benefit others and helping those who need it most.

To me, this ten week program is not an addition to my resume, another networking opportunity, or something I did to pass the time of the summer, it is the start to the rest of my life. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for each day I have had at the Rutgers Foundation. For meeting that man at the Career Fair who saw something in me that I had not yet seen in myself, for making lifetime friends with people who I would have never known without this opportunity, for the foundation of my career and the work I am going to achieve in the future. Now I am not only honored to be a Rutgers Alumnus, but I am honored to be a SIDAR Intern, a title I will carry in my heart forever.

Like many others, I could not be happier to have fallen into development, especially with the SIDAR Program at Rutgers. This experience has given me the ability to observe, learn, and most importantly grow.

So yes, maybe at 5 years old my dream was not to work in development at Rutgers University, but now at 22 it certainly is. Because sometimes, the best thing about falling, is what is there to catch you.

Christine DeSpirito

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