Sitting front row in the Honors College at the first Futures in Advancement Speaker Session was an experience, to say the least. I admit there was some trepidation, when I first walked into the room and it began to dawn on me that I was now in the midst of professionals that were at the top of their respective fields and they were here to tell me how I could do the same, and as a student half way through her undergraduate degree, being able to speak with and learn from them was an experience I am not likely to forget soon.
During this week’s session, we had the honor of hearing from Art Certosimo, one of the Foundation’s most successful and loyal donors. Art currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Overseers. In the afternoon we had the pleasure of hearing from Cathryn Potter, who is currently serving as the Dean for the School of Social Work. Both of these people have experienced their fair share of trials and successes and were kind enough to share the wealth of knowledge they have garnered in their lives to the room of earnest listeners.
The lessons they shared with us were not only applicable to our professional lives, but personal ones as well. Mr. Certosimo started his career as a football coach, to later find himself as a mogul on Wall Street; and if you are anything like me, you will be trying to do the calculations in your head about how those to careers could possibly relate to each other. He, on the other hand, chose to find the similarities in both of them and chose to approach his new career in the same way as his old one and found this to be an exceptionally effective mode of action. To me, the most important thing he told us in his session is to reward people for what they do well and to not hold it against them for what they do wrong because instead of spending their time trying to guess the right way to accomplish a task, they will actually learn how to do it properly. I also believe that this reinforces trust and communication channels between a leader and their team.
Dean Potter spoke to us about how she applies her training as a social worker to her new role as a Dean. She explained that the key was to listen; to be able to bring forth work that everyone is supporting 100%, it is imperative that everyone is on the same page and in agreement with what is being put forth.
I think the Futures in Advancement internship program is so important for Rutgers students because it exposes them very quickly to the world that is waiting for them after college as well as the importance of giving back. After interning for only two weeks, I am already motivated to give back to the University I currently call home. The act of giving back has an effect that lasts well beyond the gift being given; after hearing the stories from Foundation leaders about how donor gifts affected them, I have come to understand that just because as a student I don’t always see how giving back to the University effects change, it does have an impact in someone’s life. This is why the Futures program is so important, it not only gives me the opportunity to gain work experience, but it also exposes me to the endless work of the University’s Foundation.
Ivha Enike-Ekhelar is a Futures intern with Foundation and Alumni Communications