Internship with the Eberly College of Science Development and Alumni Relations Office
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Alecia Panuski

Hometown: West Wyoming, PA
Major(s): Political Science and History

How did you learn about this opportunity?

During my sophomore year I learned about Penn State's Division of Development and Alumni Relations Summer Internship Program through friends I worked with at Lion Line. I knew this program gave amazing experiences for students who are interested in fundraising or working with alumni. If I had not been working at Lion Line, I probably would have never known about the program because it was not widely advertised. I am very happy that the summer internship program is now advertised on Penn State's websites and through email listservs. I also recently took part in an information session for the summer program to help recruit potential candidates. I hope in the future this program is advertised more because it led to wonderful experiences for me.

Tell us a little about your experience.

I interned with Eberly College of Science on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays throughout the Fall semester. Occasionally, I would have to work nights and only once, a Saturday. I enjoyed the internship because it was not the same thing every day. Sometimes I would be at my desk for most of the day, working on lists for direct mail solicitations, the Dean's Holiday Cards, invitations to events, etc. Other days, for special occasions, I would be helping with events like the Millennium Society Reception, Distinguished Alumni Dinner, and Alumni Tailgate. I always helped with the planning of the events (invitations, keeping track of RSVP's, catering information, making name tags, day-of set-up) so when the events finally came together, it was very satisfying to see everyone having a good time. One of my favorite parts of the internship was traveling for donor visits. Mike, a Development Officer, and I traveled several times together. On these days, we would be on the road very early and go to meet with the donors, mostly for coffee. I love meeting with the donors in a one-on-one setting because you really get to hear about their interest in Penn State and you get the opportunity to have a more meaningful conversation.

At Eberly, I did not always feel like "the intern", I truly felt like part of the team. I realized this when I was sitting with people from Eberly's marketing team at an event for the new Planetarium at the Arboretum. One of the marketing team members said to me, "Alecia, I completely forgot to ask you how your classes are! You are always here with Eberly, it feels like you're one of us and not still a student!"

"If you think you are interested in working for fundraising or in philanthropy, please consider this internship experience"

How did this experience impact you academically?

This internship experience provided me with real-world experience that I would not have been able to get sitting in a classroom. I learned so much about development, alumni relations and philanthropy. At Penn State, we do not have a Philanthropy major or minor. Students who want to pursue philanthropy as career have to partake in extracurricular activities (like THON or the Student Philanthropy Council) or internships to learn more. Through this internship, I learned about the donor cycle for fundraising, how to plan events, and how to interact with donors among countless other skills. I also believe my writing has greatly improved as a result of this internship. Writing a solicitation or writing a thank you letter for fundraising is very different than any style of writing I was used to before. I've realized that in my history classes I write one way, in my Political Science another, and then at my internship, yet another way. I would not have learned anything about development writing in my four years of college, had I not taken part in this internship.

What are your career goals and plans? How did this experience impact them?

Almost two years ago, I began considering development as a career. Today, I can say I am set on that path. This internship confirmed my passion for philanthropy and development. I realized that I love working with alumni and donors, and I love being able to connect their passion for philanthropy with the needs of the University. I am excited to begin looking for jobs within development this upcoming semester for when I graduate in May. This internship gave me a broad understanding of fundraising at the major gifts level, which is exactly what I wanted to learn. It is exciting and rewarding when you discover what you want to do with your future, and I truly believe for me, that is fundraising.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students? If yes, why?

I would definitely recommend this experience for other Liberal Arts students. Last year, in 2013, 95% of American households gave money to charity. That means 95% of American households are inclined to give back in the spirit of philanthropy. Fundraising is a huge field that is growing so much right now. There are literally countless jobs in every city and state looking for fundraisers. If you think you are interested in working for fundraising or in philanthropy, please consider this internship experience. It gives you so much information about working with donors and how to raise money. You will also learn transferable skills that you can take into any field. It is a very worthwhile experience and you will feel like you are part of a team, a team that wants everyone to excel.

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