How Did We Get Here?

Gianna West

Week 4 of my internship is coming to an end and I have already had the opportunity to meet so many amazing professionals at the Foundation. Throughout my time here, I have noticed that no two stories are the same, yet all are worth listening to. The office is filled with so many diverse people from varying backgrounds. Even my fellow interns all come from different majors. Everyone’s upbringings, challenges, experiences, and achievements are a series of footprints that brought them to the world of advancement. And yes, the phrase “when I get older, I want to be a fundraiser” isn’t necessarily common, but it seems that the right people inevitably end up here.

The funny part about that phrase is that everyone isn’t just a fundraiser either. There are many components that work together to form the strategic planning and execution of a campaign. The Futures Interns and I recently had the opportunity to attend the Diverse Careers Speaker Series where various Foundation staff spoke about their paths to advancement. The first session’s panel consisted of Lisa English, an Associate Vice President in RBHS, Marco Battaglia, Assistant Athletic Director for Development, and Katie Mayfield, Director of Development in RBHS. Due to my own placement in RBHS, it was very interesting to learn about the career paths of staff in my unit. It was also surprising to hear about other department’s staff, such as Marco’s football background that led him to Athletic Development. After speaking about their past work experience and backgrounds, the panelists gave us beneficial advice to use in the future. They told us to find out who we are and what are our passions, identify our skill sets so that we can use them to our advantage, and to always believe you deserve success so that you will not fall victim to imposter syndrome. These words of wisdom will stick with me on my professional journey.

The second session comprised of Roberta O’Hara, an Associate Vice President in Donor Relations, Anthony Colella, Director of Visual Identity, and Candy Knaus, Director of Application Development & User Support. These three staff members spoke more about their unique positions within advancement and what exactly they do in those positions. Being an IT major and the nerd that I am, I was delighted to hear from Candy about everything that goes on in the Foundation’s IT Department. I was also amazed to learn from Roberta about how much work is done in the Donor Relations team. Even the amount of work it takes the Communications Team to make a campaign visually engaging was an eye-opener. It just goes to show that there is always more than meets the eye.

Being able to experience the Rutgers University Foundation from the inside has given me a whole new perspective on advancement and made me realize how important it is in higher education. A question was asked during the second speaker session about words that could be used to describe the work at the Foundation, and there was one answer that stood out to me: Purpose. From the outside looking in, one may not be able to see that amount of collaboration and work that goes into the running of the Rutgers University Foundation. Everyone is making an impact, and the staff who surround you are so friendly and welcoming that even if you never thought you would end up as an advancement professional, you can’t help but think you belong here too.

Rutgers Futures in Advancement. 5/29/19 Photo by John O’Boyle

Gianna West is a Futures in Advancement intern with Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

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