By Christina Drain
Fundraising is the life-blood of any nonprofit organization, including universities. Ohio State Development professionals are supplying real-life experience through the Development Internship for Career Exploration program this summer to nine students with an interest in eventually working for a nonprofit.
The program, in its fourth year, is coordinated by Ann Metzler, manager of training at the OSU Foundation. During the nine-week program, students spend Mondays in the classroom learning the basics of Advancement, professional development, resume writing, networking and meeting effectiveness, then another 16 hours during the week as a paid intern in one of the university’s Advancement offices or colleges.
The goals are three-fold, according to Metzler: to allow the student to work on a resume-worthy project; to have professional development guidance and assistance; and to have a working knowledge of development at the Foundation and Advancement.
“The benefit to the university and to our departments specifically is creating a pipeline of young professionals that are knowledgeable and may be interested in doing this for a living,” Metzler said.
Of the 27 students who have gone through the program in the last three years, seven have gone on to full-time employment at Ohio State.
“We want really good candidates to go into the field of Advancement after graduation, so this is a good way for them to get their feet wet and find out if this is something they want to do,” said Jenny Bergman, assistant director of Stewardship and Alumni Affairs at the College of Veterinary Medicine. “We take our intern to meetings, she’s gone on development donor visits with us, we’ve pulled her into a lot of communication stuff, so it’s really our effort to make sure that the right people get into the field.”
Christine Kaiser, a Strategic Communication major in the College of Arts and Sciences, was assigned to the College of Veterinary Medicine. She was tasked to write a social media plan to market the veterinary hospital, college and new clinic in Dublin.
“Our project centered on how, with a limited staff, can we make social media sustainable,” Bergman said. “It’s very time-consuming to maintain, so how can we keep it sustainable when she leaves.”
Kaiser used HootSuite to schedule a year’s worth of seasonal posts to Facebook and Twitter, designed to inform animal owners of dangers during the holidays, among other topics.
Erin Kaminski, a Public Affairs major with a specialization in Nonprofit Management at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs, was assigned to Donor Relations. Her project involved planning fundraising events for the Advancement Peloton riding in Pelotonia, which funds cancer research at Ohio State. She hopes to work for a cancer-based nonprofit as a fundraiser after graduation.
“Erin has done a rock-star job managing the team,” said Marie Gibbons, stewardship services manager at the Foundation. “She was tasked with planning three small fundraising events, but she has planned more than that. She organized food-truck lunch events and one major fundraising event. She’s written two more proposals for events, and I think they’re both on track for happening.”
Gibbons, as team captain of the Advancement peloton, had been working in fundraising around her job.
“I thought if I could get a DICE intern to do that, it would take some of the responsibility off me, and it would be a wonderful learning opportunity for them,” she said. “It’s been very rewarding. I’ve always had students working with me part-time, but I never considered that I was managing them because I never gave them goals and never wrote reviews of their work. So I’m learning specific management skills as well.”
Four of the nine students in the program are studying at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. Amanda Girth, instructor for both the undergraduate and graduate nonprofit management classes, says the community nonprofit experience is best learned by being embedded in an organization.
“We’re thrilled to have so many students that are participating in the DICE program this year,” Girth said. “I believe very strongly in internships for two reasons: Networking — meeting people in the industry and getting familiar with the workplace; but, even more importantly, getting those real-world skills that students can only get from being in a workplace. We find that having had an internship is one of the most important determinants for getting a job after graduation.”
Girth said almost all of the students she has had in the nonprofit management classes have had internships, either through Ohio State or in the community.
“It’s really great from an instructor’s perspective to have students that are working with organizations, particularly when you are teaching management, financial management, government, strategic management and marketing,” Girth said. “They’re not going to have experience in all those different elements, but they will have experience in some of them, and they will understand the nuances of the workplace.”