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.
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.
-Lauren Nadeau 17’