Conclusion of my time at the Rhode Island Foundation

It is hard to put into words just how inspiring my time at the Rhode Island Foundation has been.  I have been able to meet and expand upon all of my defined learning goals.  Coming into the Foundation, my goals were to be able to apply my classroom knowledge of philanthropy, network with professionals and sharpen my research and analytical skills.  This summer, I assisted the Foundation in researching a variety of grant opportunities.  Applying my classroom knowledge of philanthropy was necessary for this task, because I was required to use a number of search engines such as Guidestar, www.grants .gov and the Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance.  The research was time consuming and I was able to sharpen my analytical skills by quickly reading through and summarizing large amounts of information.  Also, throughout the entire process, I was able to interact with a variety of professionals within the Foundation and learn workplace conduct from them.  I continuously received positive feedback from these professionals and my supervisor.  At the end of my internship, I am confident in my newly acquired skills.

Working at the Rhode Island Foundation has shown me that I would like to work for or with a foundation at some point in my career.  One of the reasons why I enjoyed working at the Foundation so much, is that it is an interactive organization.  I was able to either meet or work with people from all departments of the Foundation.  Because a variety of skills are required to smoothly operate the Foundation, I could use my business degree to work in the finance department, apply my social justice and social policy minor to the development department, or even become a professional advisor if I decide pursue a J.D. in the future.  I also learned that while my work doing research was fulfilling, some of my most enjoyable experiences were actually presenting my research, or participating in a meeting or brainstorming session.  I learned that because of my personality, I like to be in front of people and take the lead in presenting and delivering information.

If I were to give advice to future students in an internship at the Rhode Island Foundation, I would tell them not to be anxious about their experience.  I found the team I was working with was extremely supportive and willing to accommodate my interests and learning goals.  Naturally, there was an expectation to work and act professionally, but there was not an overwhelming pressure to do everything perfectly.  The Foundation is not going to put interns in a position where the work is over their head.  The research I did was challenging at times and time consuming, but it was rewarding to know my work was making an impact, even in a small way.  The advice I would give to someone working in the nonprofit field is that persistence and teamwork is key.  In fact, the first thing I saw coming into the Foundation in the morning was a powerful sign that hangs above the stairs that lead to my office.  The sign reads, “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.  In the nonprofit world, there are discouragements and people who will say no, but it is up to us, this small team of committed citizens, to be positive and persistent so that we can change the world.

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The sign with quote by Margaret Mead

This summer I am most proud of the fact that I was able to complete all of the assigned projects that were given to me and I did not commit any major mistakes or errors that needed to be fixed.  I had a little bit of experience with nonprofit work prior to joining the Foundation through my classroom experience, but I was still nervous that it would take more work for my supervisor to train me than I would be giving back.  However, I am proud to say that the opposite turned out to be true.  I was able to work efficiently and finish all of my assigned projects.  I am truly going to miss the people who make the Rhode Island Foundation the powerful organization that it is and the opportunities that the Foundation has awarded me.  Hopefully, I will be able to keep in touch with the Foundation and one day give back to the work that it does.

 

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The beautiful upstairs of the Rhode Island Foundation

 

-Lauren Nadeau 17’

Rhode Island Foundation Midpoint Check-in

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As I reflect on my midpoint at the Rhode Island Foundation, I am aware that I have experienced many positive emotions in and out of my workplace environment.  I enjoy going to work at the Foundation so much so, that I come in before the time I am supposed to arrive everyday.  I like to be in an environment filled with people who are passionate about the work they do.  It encourages me and gives me hope that I will one day find a job that I can be equally as passionate about.  My overall impression about the workplace is that the work can be challenging and tedious, but every detail counts.  Life moves fast and it takes energy, skill and passion to make the work go by smoothly.

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The world of work is different from university life in that you are not measured on your performance by grades, or how much you have memorized for a test.  Instead, you are measured on how well you can work with members on a team and alleviate some of the pressures and challenges team members face.  Academic work is oftentimes individualistic.  However, I have realized that in the real world, you have to know how to talk, interact and learn from one another across a company, or in my case, a foundation.  I know that this can be a challenge for many workplaces; however, at the Rhode Island Foundation, everyone tries to make time for one another so that communication stays open.  I feel very well supported in this type of environment and because of the great teamwork and cross-departmental collaboration, I have been fortunate to meet and work with a large network of people.

The skills that I am learning in my internship are extremely valuable for me.  I am learning how to analyze and read through large amounts of information, and then summarize it in order to present my findings to my supervisor.  I am also applying my classroom knowledge of philanthropy and scanning broad search engines, such as Grants.gov, to do effective research for the Foundation.  The research I am doing is time consuming and I am required to search many key-word combinations to find grants for which the Foundation can apply.  It would be impractical to spend a lengthy amount of time on any one source so I have to find the information that I need quickly and then move on.  I am now confident in my ability to be able to continue to use my skills to help the Foundation, as I have been receiving positive feedback from my supervisor.

 

Best,

 

-Lauren Nadeau ‘2017

Starting at the Country’s Largest Community Foundation

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The Rhode Island Foundation (http://www.rifoundation.org), founded in 1916, has a rich legacy. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations. The foundation serves multiple initiatives in Rhode Island, which range from learning in public schools to off-shore wind energy development, patient-centered medical home, high-tech workforce development…etc (http://www.rifoundation.org/InsidetheFoundation/OurBlog.aspx). It is Rhode Island’s only community foundation and the largest funder of Rhode Island’s nonprofit sector. In 2014, the Foundation made grants of more than $40 million to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs.

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As I walked into the Foundation on the first day of my internship, I could not shake feelings of nervousness and a sense that I had gotten myself into work that was over my head. However, when my supervisor, Alison, approached me with an outstretched hand and a warm smile, I immediately started to feel at ease. Alison showed me to an office she had set up for me to work. I had an email and Google calendar set up already and was told me to check it immediately, as I was scheduled to be in several meetings throughout my first week. During the meetings, I was greeted by the Foundation’s team and learned about the projects I would be assisting on this summer.

Throughout the summer, I will be researching possible grant opportunities for the Foundation. The Foundation is partnering with the State of Rhode Island for their centennial celebration and I am helping to formulate research for the celebration. In addition, I will be researching some of the Foundation’s signature initiatives such as educational success, economic security, healthy living and inspiring philanthropy. The development and data and operations teams I am working under are welcoming and supportive of my learning goals. I trust that I will be able to reach my goals of applying my classroom knowledge of philanthropy, creating new professional networks and sharpening my analytical skills. I cannot wait to keep you posted!

 

Best,

Lauren Nadeau

Social Justice WOW Recipient