Ten weeks ago, the 2021 cohort of the Futures in Advancement interns logged on to our first day with the Foundation, kicking off an unorthodox start to the summer. While the growing pains of technical difficulties and the loss of watercooler chats were unavoidable in this new virtual format, I think that I speak for all of us when I say that this experience was incredibly fruitful— all thanks to the Talent Management team, our hosts, and the many RUF colleagues that have welcomed us throughout this internship. Even without ever stepping foot in the Liberty Plaza office, we have felt the camaraderie and shared sense of purpose that drives every unit, from Principal Gifts to the Zimmerli Art Museum. Likewise, each intern came into this program with a unique background spanning Rutgers’ campuses, grades, and majors; but what we all shared was the perspective of Rutgers students who have been positively impacted by philanthropy in ways both big and small.
What followed these initial introductions were jam-packed days filled with unit meetings, cohort project work, and educational sessions that gave us a 360-view of the many facets of the Foundation. Speaking from my personal experience, I was able to rotate within the Principal Gifts team to learn from Corporate Engagement, Foundation Relations, Estate & Gift Planning, and Regional Gifts. For a continuing undergraduate student like myself, this rotation-style internship was so valuable in giving me a comprehensive look at advancement and fundraising, as well as potential career paths to pursue, whether it be as a grant researcher or planned giving officer. I was also able to explore and refine my skills in a multitude of meaningful projects, and I received valuable mentorship from a number of individuals who were so open with their time and expertise. My fellow interns have shared similar sentiments regarding their work— and again, even while our specific experiences at the Foundation differed based on placement, we have all been challenged, in the best of ways, throughout this summer.
Despite these reflections, there have also been so many fun and meaningful moments during these past ten weeks that are impossible to capture in a blog post— the icebreakers before diving into our cohort meetings, the furry friends that have popped in during Zoom calls, the endearing awkwardness of being the first person to unmute. To me, these lighthearted interactions, coupled with phenomenal professional development, truly encompass what it means to be involved with higher education advancement— a highly personal, human-centered career that is about nurturing relationships with students, alumni, and everyone in between.
With that being said, I would like to extend a huge thank you once again to everyone who made our time with the Foundation so impactful and informative. It is bittersweet to say our goodbyes as we wrap up the program, but rest assured, we are leaving as individuals more connected to this wonderful university and organization.
Charis is a Futures in Advancement intern with Principal Gifts.