It’s Academic

Before beginning the Futures in Advancement internship program, I was not really aware of the non-profit sector of higher education. I knew students receive scholarships, researchers obtain funding, and buildings are named after people, but I never stopped to think about how these things came to be. After two weeks as a Futures intern and meeting everyone at the RBHS (Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences) unit, I started to find out what advancement in a higher education setting is about. As someone who is pursuing a career in higher education, this connection between advancement and academics piqued my interest, and I wanted to learn more. On June 19th, our first Speaker Series covered how academics and advancement at Rutgers are tied together – perfect timing!

During this session, we first heard from Dean Peter March, the Executive Dean of Arts and Sciences, and Tracy Elliot, Associate Vice President of Development at SAS. Through our discussion with them, I learned about the importance of faculty in advancement work. Dean March described our faculty as unique due to their entrepreneurial spirit and devotion to their students. To make their visions for enhancing students’ education a reality, faculty and the development team work together to get support from alumni and friends of the university. Without the faculty’s passion or the development team’s expertise, these initiatives could not grow and thrive.

Next, we heard from Art Certosimo, Chair of the Board of Overseers, and Nevin Kessler, the Foundation President. Art’s journey from a Rutgers alum who had lost contact with the university to his current position as Chair was inspiring and eye-opening. He stressed the significance of Rutgers alumni connections with each other, with faculty, and with Rutgers itself. I saw how Rutgers students’ relationships with faculty can be so impactful even many years after graduating. This connection and appreciation for faculty can be the tie that brings alumni back to the university. It can also be the motivation for (in Art’s words) an alum’s “joyful responsibility” to give back to Rutgers.

Being able to listen to and talk with these amazing speakers was an honor and a wonderful opportunity to learn more about a side of higher education that I knew very little about. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni all play an important role in advancement. I will keep the wisdom from these speakers with me as I continue on my journey with Futures and fulfill my own joyful responsibility to Rutgers.

Rutgers Futures in Advancement
Rutgers Futures in Advancement. 6/4/18 Photo by John O’Boyle

Janelle Raymundo is a Futures in Advancement Intern in Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

Alumni Day 2018

On Alumni Day, my cohort of Futures in Advancement Interns had the opportunity to meet with interns from the previous two cohorts. We all enjoyed breakfast and coffee as we got to know one another. Through activities and anecdotes, the alumni were able to offer valuable advice to me and the other interns. This provided us a new perspective while helping us better understand our roles at the Rutgers University Foundation.

The alumni that we got to meet gave us valuable information that will help us throughout the rest of this internship, and in our professional careers. Each alumnus shared advice regarding the program, development as an industry, and life in general. Many of the alumni talked about the value of the final cohort project. The project is not just about delivering a finished product, but learning to work in groups with different people. This process instills a strong work ethic that is important in the professional field. Some other lessons that were shared with us by the alumni was to keep things professional and build your network because you never know when you may need it.  Another alumnus talked about the importance of fundraising and the role it plays in a student’s everyday life. Donors are the inciting force that help push university programs towards excellence. Another alumnus took a different spin on what they learned about development during their time as an intern. She stressed the importance of understanding development, because as interns we are actually given a chance to immerse ourselves in it. Many other students will never learn the complex nature of development, which is so integral to many professional career paths.

The opportunity to hear the stories of past alumni was invaluable and helped me realize the true value of fundraising. Development is about much more than just reaching a dollar amount. It is about fostering relationships, funding ground-breaking research, building scholarship funds that change student lives, engaging people of all age groups, and advancing the future of an organization or institution. Thank you to all the alumni for helping me realize this.

Rutgers Futures in Advancement
Rutgers Futures in Advancement. 6/4/18 Photo by John O’Boyle
Andrew Hanna is a Futures in Advancement Intern in Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

Red Envelopes Get a Bronze

We are proud to announce that one of our very own, Yingxing Huang, a former Futures in Advancement intern is the Bronze winner of the Circle of Excellence Innovative Alumni Programs award for her proposal for a Rutgers University Branded red envelope to be given to alumni donors to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Yingxing was an intern in the Donor Relations Office during the summer of 2016. She then went on to work as a Part Time Development Assistant for the Rutgers-Newark Advancement team.

The idea for the envelopes came to Yingxing when she was speaking to her mother who was telling Yingxing that she had to go purchase red envelopes to give out for the holiday. As a result of this conversation, Yingxing thought that it would be a great idea to create red envelopes with the Rutgers brand in honor of the Chinese New Year. It is tradition for older generations and married couples to give red envelopes with gold Chinese characters to their children and other unmarried people as a sign of good fortune during the Chinese New Year. She wanted to give these envelopes out to Rutgers Alumni in China as a token of gratitude for their generosity and to remind them that Rutgers will always be with them.

This idea turned into reality, when Nancy Cantor, the Chancellor of Rutgers Newark and Irene O’Brien, the Vice Chancellor for Advancement visited Chinese Alumni in China and handed out these envelopes to the Alumni. The envelopes were passed out in groups of eight, a symbol of good fortune in the Chinese culture, which was appreciated by the recipients. It Is this ingenuity and creativeness within the advancement field that we hope to foster in every intern that goes through the Futures in Advancement internship. Congratulations to Yingxing for her amazing accomplishment.



From the November | December of 2017 edition of CASE Currents:

“Pushing the Red Envelope: A Chinese New Year custom becomes a new Rutgers tradition” details the work of former Futures intern Yingxing Huang to present and work on a dynamic initiative with the Office of the Chancellor at Rutgers-Newark.


To read the full article and learn more about advancement work itself, go to:

CASE Currents, November | December 2017

Yingxing Huang



On the Other Side of the Table


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.

Rutgers Futures in Advancement

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.

Helping the Helpers: Fundraising from a Social Worker’s Perspective

Rutgers Futures in Advancement.  6/14/17 Photo by John O’BoyleAfter almost 10 years in development, I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say “I fell into it” when asked how they entered the field. We talk about the field as a second act or say that it happened seemingly by accident.

I’m no exception.

While an undergraduate student here at Rutgers, I envisioned a career helping people through clinical social work practice. I was passionate about being of service to others. But then I started clinical work and I hated it. (Takeaway point: you can love learning about something but not actually enjoy doing it.)

I eventually found development while working in the nonprofit sector. It was there that I “fell into” development and connected philanthropy with my passion for helping people. I still remember my excitement to finally find a home for my social work education. It was electric!

Fast forward to 2016, I was given the opportunity to return to Rutgers School of Social Work not as a student but as a professional fundraiser. Much had changed since I graduated in 2005: the School had grown significantly as did my understanding of what it means to be a social worker.

I see many parallels between social work and development, one of which being that social workers effect change by assessing need, working in between systems, and providing resources. Development professionals do the same: we assess donors’ needs, work in between donors and institutions, and secure resources to have a targeted impact.

The skills I learned as a social worker—working across disciplines, managing relationships, thinking strategically, and being goal-oriented—have served me well in this profession. Yet, I envy the opportunity you each have to learn about development intentionally and with structure, not accidentally and haphazardly as so many of us have.

This is why Dean Cathy Potter and I chose to participate in the fireside chat last week and discuss the nuances of fundraising with academic leaders, which is essential in today’s higher education funding landscape. Our goal was to illuminate the good that is accomplished when a development professional truly understands an academic leader’s vision, believes in it, and transfers that same passion to donors.

I’ve mentioned passion several times in this blog because it’s that important. Wherever your path leads, be passionate. It makes all the difference. I am passionate about Rutgers School of Social Work because I see how it advances social justice through education, research, and training. I am passionate about Rutgers because it grew me, because it elevates the only state I’ve ever called home, and because it offers the hope of a brighter tomorrow. I am passionate about the Futures program and being of service to each of you because I know that, whatever field you ultimately decide to pursue, this program will give you indelible skills that you will use to do the work you are passionate about.

Don’t “fall into” development. Fall in love with it.


Erin Capone is a Director of Development for the Rutgers University School of Social Work. Erin holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Rutgers University.