By Sam Coren
Ever wonder what it would be like to spend your internship doing something a bit more philanthropic? Every summer college students elect to spend their semester breaks doing good work at nonprofit organizations all across the country. While sometimes these positions are unpaid, the experience these students gain can be invaluable when they go to begin their post-college careers.
This week on StudentAdvisor’s Internship Spotlight we caught up with a college student who’s currently interning at a nonprofit organization that actually helps other nonprofits. Learn more what it’s like to be an intern at The Center for Effective Philanthropy, based in Cambridge, Ma. and San Francisco, Ca., below:
Major and Class Year:
Economics and Religious Studies, Class of 2012
What does the company do?
The Center for Effective Philanthropy is an organization that uses data collection and research to enable high-performing funders. The company uses a variety of assessment tools (like a grantee-perception report, staff-perception report, comparative board report, and strategy landscape tool) to provide foundations with an accurate, impartial, and comparative view of their impact in the field, community, or with specific organizations.
Since its inception 10 years ago, CEP has seen foundations make drastic and meaningful changes in strategy and granting policy to attain greater levels of efficacy (“more bang for your buck” – if you will).
What’s your position there?
Intern – Office of the President
Can you tell us about a typical day on the job?
I am fortunate to have a great amount of variety in my days at CEP and have had the opportunity to work in several different program areas. My work in programming, communications, and development has been to create publications and videos of coverage from our May 2011 conference. Additionally, I am analyzing the web metrics for our website, blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages to prepare a report for the staff in how they may use these social media outlets more effectively.
I have also been involved in an initiative to prospect new potential funders for CEP. In the finance department I have aided the implementation of new online reporting software. For the assessment tools team, I help with coding, cleaning, and analyzing data from our most recent round of Grantee Perception Reports. Finally, I have been assisting our president, Phil Buchanan, in researching the history of nonprofits and business for an essay he will be publishing. My days here usually consist of a variety of these tasks, as well as attending staff meetings and listening to CEP guest speakers.
What have you learned so far during your internship?
Prior to working at CEP, I had had very little exposure to the nonprofit sector and was largely unaware of the enormous size and impact of the 90,000+ foundations in the United States. I have learned the extent of problems of efficiency, capacity, and accountability that plague nonprofits and the inaccurate stereotypes that exist surrounding these issues.
Foundations are often criticized for having a lack of clarity in strategy, disinterest in regard to funding outcomes, and being slow to change as economic and social demands changing. It is heartening to hear of all the foundations that have used our services in hopes of achieving their mission, yet important to remember how much work still needs to be done to make the sector as effective as possible.
What are your career goals, and how will your internship help you achieve them?
While I struggle to identify a clear-cut plan for my career—where I want to go, who I want to be, how I want to get there—I know that my definition of career success combines personal achievement with a visible impact on an area in need of development, reform, or change.
I have loved my exposure to the nonprofit sector through this internship and hope that I will spend most, if not all of my career, working for mission-driven organizations striving to develop solutions where private markets and government policies have failed. Working at CEP has given me exposure to the world of foundations but also to the scores of nonprofits striving to banish mediocrity and deliver innovative and effective resolutions for entrenched social problems.