An Introduction to UFE

I had a great first week as the development intern at United for a Fair Economy!

It was a wonderful welcome and I have learned a lot already. My first day started with a bagel breakfast so that I could meet the whole staff and get to know them a bit. Everyone is incredibly friendly and nice and welcoming, even to a lowly intern. 🙂  Jamie and Suzanna, my supervisors in the Development team, showed me around the office and gave me lots of materials to read about UFE, its work, and the development plan. They also introduced me to the database (of contacts, donors, donations, etc.) and showed me how to enter and find information and how to process gifts. Then it was my turn to do some gift processing on my own.

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Speaking of gifts, look what they gave me on my first day!

UFE is in a bit of a transition phase, with the recent departure of the Executive Director, a few other staff changes, and with a new five-year strategic plan that goes beyond education and awareness to focus more on challenging economic inequality. You can read more about this transition on the UFE blog. This meant that with so much going on in the organization, I was able to step up to the plate and be independent in my work even within my first few days, and my supervisors greatly appreciated that.

I also had the opportunity to choose some projects to take on for the summer. I will be creating a donor survey (in order to learn more about UFE’s donors and what we can do to improve future development campaigns) and also designing a new brochure for the organization. I will also be working on fundraising emails, mailings, and more during the day-to-day operations of the development team.

I found this internship through Hiatt’s B.Hired job & internship database. The listing caught my attention because the organization looked like one that I would like to work for and that I could learn a lot from. Economic inequality is an issue that I feel strongly about and on which I have worked in other ways – e.g. with the hunger and homelessness club at Brandeis and with an organization in Lima, Peru that works with people in a poorer community on local development projects – but never on a large-scale political level. And, although my interests lie more along the lines of communications, I knew that development is closely linked and would be another important skill-set to have. I applied for some other internships as well, but after my interview with Jamie I felt that this one would be a good choice.

The office is located in the Financial District of downtown Boston – a very interesting place. It’s bustling with people during the day, especially during the lunchbreak hours, and completely empty and closed up after about 7pm. The UFE office (it recently moved) is now across the street from a lovely little square that happens to be on the Freedom Trail. So, among the suited up businesspeople there are also lots of tourists and guides in colonial-era costumes. It’s quite an eclectic and interesting mix, and I enjoy my short walks for coffee and/or lunch during the day.

The square outside the UFE office!
view from my office window!

I am looking forward to learning a lot this summer – and I have already begun to! Personally, my goal is to gain experience and confidence in a professional environment. Specifically, I am looking forward to the experience of working in a small nonprofit with a complex, multi-level approach to socioeconomic inequalities. This presents a unique set of challenges, especially because of the wide range of actors and interests involved. Professionally, my goal is to learn how development functions are carried out in a nonprofit, as well as how that interacts with other functions, such as marketing and communications, and other operations of the organization. I also hope to gain experience in professional interaction with clients/donors. Academically, I hope to learn about economic inequalities – their causes, how they manifest in US society, and their effects. I also aspire to learn about the various actors and strategies involved in addressing economic inequalities.

I think it will be a good summer!