It’s funny, sometimes, when I think about how much has changed since mid-May of 2016 when I announced to the world (aka Facebook) that I’d be taking an internship at the Rutgers University Foundation in the Summer Internship in Development and Alumni Relations (SIDAR) program. Through SIDAR, I have realized a passion that I did not recognize before: I love philanthropy. From the nuts and bolts of researching to the concept of strategic planning where the Foundation will be headed, I fell in love with development and advancement. As many say, “falling” is a trend in this field, and I’ve fallen hard. Fast forward to May of 2017, and I’ve graduated Rutgers University-Newark and have begun my role as Special Projects Coordinator in the Department of Talent Management at the Rutgers University Foundation, full time. This May, instead of nervously walking up the stairs of the illustrious Winants Hall, I was running up and down them to get us ready to welcome 10 new interns into the newly branded Futures in Advancement program. What a difference a year can make, huh?
At times it is hard to see how much has changed in that year, as I’ve taken on the role of behind the scenes of the program rather than an intern myself, I lose track of all the amazing things going on sometimes. That was refocused recently, when I saw a few of my colleagues from the inaugural year of the program. The Futures Alumni Day bought together my cohort of interns with this year’s cohort, and gave us an opportunity to trade stories and network. Futures has attracted 10 of the brightest Rutgers students I could imagine getting to know, and now I get to see them do what we did as a group last year. The Futures program is poised to continue making an impact on the Rutgers University community, and each of the interns selected. Knowing this, I couldn’t have been happier sitting around the table together.
As an alumni of the inaugural year of the program, I will of course have an affinity for the bond my cohort shared; but to see a new bond be formed around the conference room table with the new cohort, I am reminded of why this program exists. This program is designed to give people like myself, who didn’t even know they loved philanthropy, the chance to fall in love with it. As I look around at my (now) colleagues, I am reminded of the breadth of their talent and their commitment to affecting positive change at the University I love and continue to call home. I know this program has more to go and grow, it is not close to being at its apex. Yet, I sat around the table yesterday listening to both cohorts talking, and I realized that there is no greater bond to be formed than the bond among people with a shared passion and vision; that is what pushed me off the edge and into non-profit work.
So did I fall into advancement? Yeah, I would say so. Would I have it any other way? Definitely not.
Sean P. Howard is a graduate of Rutgers University-Newark and a proud alumni of the Futures program. Sean is currently the Special Projects Coordinator at the Rutgers University Foundation in the Department of Talent Management.