On June 10th, the current Futures in Advancement interns had the opportunity to connect with past interns for Alumni Day. What ensued was a much-needed conversation about the importance of connection and honest communication in terms of success.
Speaking with those who had already gone through the program allowed us to see how much this internship has the potential to be a catalyst for great professional success. However, what I did not expect to take from this meeting was a sense of relief. This feeling came mostly from all the alumni sharing their experiences creating and presenting their cohort projects. As many know, group work tends to be quite challenging, especially when the participants do not know each other well. For us current interns, the fact that we are completely virtual made the ability to connect more difficult. Thankfully, we were reminded of the importance of just getting to know each other. We had met with each other a few times prior to Alumni Day but our conversations were focused solely on our project. The first cohort meeting that we had after Alumni Day was more focused on learning about each other and creating a more genuine connection. Since then, we have implemented ice breakers for every meeting which has made a considerably positive difference in the way that we all communicate with each other.
After being in the internship for about three weeks, we had not had an open conversation about how we were all feeling. The topic of imposter syndrome was brought up by an alumnus and it gave us the chance to speak honestly about it for the first time. This was a conversation that we had carried into our following cohort meeting. The term itself refers to feeling like a fraud or imposter because of doubting one’s own abilities or accolades. There is so much research into how it disproportionately affects women, minorities, and high-achieving people; but what none of us had realized was that we were all experiencing it in one way or another. Unbeknownst to us was the existing sense that we all had to be as professional as possible at any given moment. Because of that, we avoided all candid interactions with each other. Sometimes as interns, it is difficult to feel as though you are an asset to those you work with or report to. Therefore, I have grown an immense gratitude for all of those at the Rutgers University Foundation who have made all the interns, past and present, feel as though they are an integral part of the work being done.
I want to thank all of alumni who came to speak and who gave us the space to have free-spoken communication.