You might be thinking: fundraising? I don’t really want to spend the summer cold-calling alumni asking for cash…and I really wanted to find an internship that helps me learn more about marketing/research/management instead.
I would venture to guess that most D-SIP interns had similar thoughts when they first discovered the program. I was drawn to the possibility of staying in Ann Arbor for the summer (you really can’t beat it), but wanted to make sure I would have the opportunity to develop actual skills and gain valuable experience in the non-profit sector, where paid opportunities are few and far between. I was graduating, after all, and wasn’t sure what the future held for me after August. So please, believe me when I say: apply to D-SIP. Not only did I develop some serious analytical skills, I did it while working in arguably the most fun environment ever (the Neutral Zone), alongside an interesting, committed staff who helped me more fully understand what goes into running a successful organization.
While interns spent their weeks working on a variety of projects, Friday classes gave us time to: debrief, ask questions we may have been too shy to ask our supervisors, meet high-profile community leaders, discuss (and often challenge) assigned readings, and learning more about the other D-SIPpers. Each of us came from a unique perspective – we had different majors, different backgrounds, different plans for post-grad – but we all left the program with new friends, interesting stories, and a shared love for the Friday morning coffee.
I can’t say enough good things about my D-SIP experience and the Neutral Zone (seriously, you’d have to stop me), and I’m happy to say that I’m still in Ann Arbor, working in the development department of a local non-profit. So even if you don’t think fundraising is for you – consider applying. You might be surprised by what you learn!
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This is what graduating from the University of Michigan felt like exactly one year ago. I was very content living the college life and wanted nothing more than to stay. I disliked everything about the way that being forced to voluntarily leave Ann Arbor made me feel. While my serious lack of excitement about reaching the finish line was founded on numerous reasons, it was perhaps my complete lack of confidence in what came next that motivated my inability to get going and get excited about all those “great accomplishments” and those “great mountains to climb” everyone kept talking about.
I started applying for jobs right and left. I joined every single job searching website and started cranking out job applications like WHOA without really considering where I had been and what my deep, deep desire was now that I had invaluable experiences and knowledge to share with the world from my time at Michigan. I graduated with a B.A. in Communication Studies and Italian, and I could see myself doing everything under the sun–moving to Italy to teach English, being a kindergarten teacher, PR, Television, Writing, Event Planning, etc. Is it clear yet that I had no sense of direction/didn’t want to accept I needed to find one?! I had to take it back to basics and consider what in my four years at Michigan had been pivotal–what had made my heart leap? I kept coming back to the U-M Development Summer Internship Program which I had participated in the summer before.
Before participating in D-SIP, the only thing I knew was that I wanted to do “good stuff”. I didn’t know how or where but I felt compelled to pursue a career with a mission. Participating in D-SIP opened my eyes not only to the importance of fundraising for higher education institutions, but to the vast world of philanthropy and the infinite number of opportunities available to do “good stuff” in a systematic and purposeful way. D-SIP also encouraged me to consider what philanthropic missions were important to me, and to become a serious participant in giving to those causes that were (and are) important to me, like education. The more I thought about this, the clearer it became that what was most important to me in answering the very frightening “what now?!” question was the underlying desire to enter a business concerned with giving back to society, with linking individual passions with the needs of our world, with the welfare of others.
Once I realized this, my job search went from being practically stagnant to moving rather swiftly. I really wanted to move to Chicago, and I was able to land a position at a prestigious institution of higher education in the area with their central development major gifts team. Crazy to believe (because it feels like I started yesterday,) but I have been in this position for the past six months and I could not be happier.
D-SIP surrounded me with incredibly talented and knowledgeable individuals who motivated me in my quest to find my path post-graduation, and who continue to encourage me as I dabble in higher education fundraising. I am incredibly excited to be part of this field and to share my experiences and thoughts on philanthropy with you all!
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I never realized how incredible it was to be a member of the University of Michigan Women’s Water Polo team until it was over. While there are aspects (feeling your wet hair crunch because it has turned into miniature icicles as you walk to class in January, the long uncomfortable bus rides to and from Bloomington, waking up at 5:45am to run through the sleeting snow to get to the pool, missing a football Saturday for travel) that made me occasionally question dedicating my entire college experience to Michigan athletics, the good far outweighed the bad so now in hindsight I could not be more thankful I stuck with it.
As I approached my senior year, I was uncertain about what I would do in the “real world”. As my interests spread across performance, design, law, food, athletics, writing, social work – every day I woke up with a new life plan. Somewhere in this process of making future life plans, the development internship program caught my eye. I thought – wow this would be a great way for me to give back to a university that has given me so much. So while I knew very little about having a career in development, after doing some research, talking to people in the industry, reading about Michigan’s current campaign I immediately felt this could be something I would not only enjoy, but could also be very successful. After a summer working in the development office at the law school, shadowing visits with donors, listening to the incredibly passionate stories about why donors give I was determined to make this my life plan.
With my bursting love for college athletics I had to find a way to combine my passion for athletics, higher education, and fundraising. I thought I found the answer when a job opening popped up at DePaul as the assistant director for athletics in development. There was even graphic design involved – I thought this couldn’t be more perfect. After several rounds of challenging interviews they decided to go with a different candidate. I cried – is my life plan shot down already?
As disappointed as I was to not land my first job in athletics as a development officer, I was equally excited to be offered a position as an academic coordinator for student-athletes at the University of Virginia. Fundraising may be missing from my current job responsibilities, but the ability to build relationships (the most important skill I attribute to my experience in D-SIP) is what makes me successful as a coordinator. It’s all about the relationships with the students and gaining their trust to support them be successful in whatever it is he or she want to pursue. Seeing the student-athletes win championships, graduate and pursue incredible careers, give back to the community is the reason people give to athletics. It’s so exciting to be a part of the support system that enables these students to have such a well rounded educational experience.
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Even though I feel like I have been swimming through a sea of performances, lessons, exams, workdays, and papers for something a bit longer than four years, I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the fact that I am (as of a week and a half ago) a college graduate. Graduating from college was always one of those larger-than-life, “That will never be me!” kinds of events. I was perfectly comfortable in my University environment and had never been a huge fan of change. Over the past year or so I had, apparently, been denying the fact that the idyllic days of my undergraduate career had been quickly approaching a halt.
Which is why, during the last months of this semester, I was neck-deep in a pool of reflection. During my last few days of college, I was acutely aware of all of the lasts I encountered. My last lesson with my oboe professor. My last performance in Hill Auditorium. My last class in Angell Hall. With every goodbye, remembrances of my many Michigan firsts crept into my consciousness. My first meeting with my oboe professor when, as a senior in high school, I auditioned for the School. My first performance in Hill Auditorium, where I was so nervous I thought that I might actually have to flee the stage in a fit of terror. My first class in Angell Hall Auditorium D, where I remember wondering whether or not my high school teachers had actually prepared me for college like they had said they were doing.
As much as I would like to think that the rewarding experiences that occurred between my firsts and lasts were the solely the result of my own determination, I can’t help but realize that a much bigger force was behind it all. The University of Michigan, steeped in a legacy of excellence, was the agent that created these experiences for me. Where else could I have found the perfect combination of artistic and academic distinction that I had always craved?
I think it is the huge experiences that we never saw coming (either due to the simple unpredictability of life or our own state of denial) that create such introspection and cause us to give back to a particular effort or institution. Whether it is a reflection of our own appreciation or our desire to ensure that others can have the same experiences, the indelible mark that they leave on our being cannot be ignored.
For the past year, I worked in development at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance. This summer, I will continue my work in fundraising at one of the country’s premiere summer performing arts institutions. I look forward to connecting people who have had these larger-than-life experiences in the arts with this particular establishment!
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