Through my internship, I have not been thinking much about Communication Studies theories if I am being honest. Looking back on different interactions and experiences throughout the semester, I have realized that Communication Studies theories are everywhere! The top theories that I have noticed at play over the duration of my last couple of months as an intern are Social Penetration Theory and Social Learning Theory.
The Institutional Advancement Office is all about fundraising. Fundraising for scholarships, for infrastructure programs, program funding, athletic teams, and so much more. To get those big gifts, we have several gift officers, who meet with our more well-off alumni. These gift officers will meet with wealthier alumni countless times to build a relationship before asking for the bigger gifts. Several gift officers have talked about their job as just an excuse to “make friends.” These relationships are started through superficial means at first. It is started to eventually get a large gift from the alum. As time passes on, these relationships evolve so much so, that both parties become very invested in the others life. They soon are meeting for lunch more, or spending time with each other’s families. These friendships evolve from superficial relationships to intimate friendships. The alumni are vulnerable because they are open to being solicited for a large gift to be donated to the university and the gift officer is vulnerable because these alumni tend to be higher in age, so they usually end up passing. This describes the Social Penetration Theory, which examines how superficial relationships evolve into more intimate relationships.
The next theory that I see evident in my internship is the Social Learning theory, that states that we learn through observing, imitating, and modeling the behaviors, attitudes and emotional reactions of others. This is exemplified through my time as an intern. I have never worked in higher education before and truly did not know what the Office of Institutional Advancement did on campus. I have learned through doing as my coworkers have done. I have learned through imitating the work that has been done on spreadsheets and to use the templates from previous events. I have learned how to use several different online resources, such as Raiser’s Edge, through watching others use it. I have learned how to communicate with donors through watching my coworkers communicate with them. I have learned how to behave in the world of higher education through watching others.
During my 2.5 years as a Communication Studies major, I have taken many helpful and influential courses. From Public Speaking all the way up to Senior Seminar, I have learned so much about the Communications world and how to thrive in it. When looking back at which courses most heavily prepared me for this internship, though it is a hard to narrow down to just 3, I would have to say that Public Speaking, Social Media Marketing, and Public Relations Research have had the most impact.
I have always grown up somewhat shy. I do not speak much unless spoken to or if I am with someone that I am very comfortable with, like my friends and family. During Public Speaking, I was forced to stand up and speak in front of people that I did not know at all. Whether speaking about things that I knew a lot about, or topics that I did not fully understand, I had to stand in front of my peers and talk. This has come in handy so much in this internship because I am constantly being thrown in to helping whoever needs me in the office. I have used my public speaking skills to speak professionally and clearly, so that my coworkers, or anyone that I am trying to communicate with, understands me.
Social Media Marketing was one of my favorite courses that I have taken here at Longwood. Writing has always been a strong point of mine and I enjoyed writing and marketing a blog that I had created. My internship at the Institutional Advancement Office is all about marketing. Marketing The Day of Giving, a huge day where we try to get the most donations possible for the University and Departments, I had to use my marketing skills. Interns had to market and post about the day days before it arrived to get students and alumni involved. Using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media sites were so important during this time because it was how we connected with our donors! We had to decide what content would attract people to donate, and which wouldn’t. I had to use my trial and errors that I experienced during my time in Social Media Marketing to help me determine what I think would work and what would not.
Lastly, Public Relations Research prepared me for prospectus research. A big part of the Advancement Office is finding potential donors, whether big or small. Going on Twitter and other social media sites to see who loves Longwood and talks about the school highly, is something that I have been tasked with as well. I look at is as an almost Content Analysis study. Examining what people are saying about the university and what role it had in their life. this information is so important because it is then passed off to gift officers, who then talk to the potential donors and build a relationship. This can potentially result in lifetime donors, scholarship donors, and connections with other donors that may love Longwood even more!
My time in the Communication Studies program has prepared me for not only my internship, but a future career as well. Sitting down and applying my knowledge has really given me perspective on what I want to do in my future career and how this knowledge will impact me in the future. I can’t wait to get started!
Since my last journal, I have participated in the prep and execution hosting an event. It is no easy task, that is for sure! The Office of Institutional Advancement hosted the Scholarship Dinner, an event for both donors and student scholarship recipients to be recognized and meet. For preparation, I was in charge of creating name tags for all attending the event. This included name tags for students, faculty, staff and donors. I was in charge of creating the name tag template (since we changed our scholarship logo this year) and making sure there were name tags for everyone that included where they were sitting at the dinner. After creating the name tags, I was in charge of organizing the Place cards and making sure that those names were spelled correctly and in the correct order. The day of the event, I had to make a key and label place cards for those with special dietary requests for the caterers, such as vegetarians or food allergies. During the event, I golf carted donors from the parking garage to Blackwell Ballroom and then back to the parking garage at the end of the dinner.
Through hosting this event, I have learned many things. First, I have learned how hard it is to host an event. It requires so much planning and organization to make it successful. You have to think of the little things, such as making signs to point to the restroom or signs to remind guests to silence their cells phones. Second, I have learned that though you are not given the most glamorous job sometimes, it is still an important job to do and do well because it still makes an impact. And lastly, I have learned how much donors truly love and cherish Longwood, not only through their monetary donations, but their complete awe and interest in new changes and students that was demonstrated during a short ride through campus.
I was challenged this week by having to keep my cool, while everyone around me was stressed and frantic trying to get ready for the dinner. Even when I was feeling stressed, I tried to stay calm so that my work would not be affected and that others around me could also stay calm. I was also challenged when I was golf carting donors back to their cars because it was freezing cold, but I had to stay upbeat and cheery.
This experience has definitely given me a quick glimpse into the world of Event Planning. If that is the career path that I choose to explore, I now have some experience on what went right and what went wrong in order to host a successful event in the future.
Through the course of this internship, I have learned a lot about the giving societies that donors can fall into here at Longwood. Depending on how much money you give, you are placed in different giving societies, such as the Citizen Leadership Society, or the 1839 Giving Society. The more money someone gives, the more prestegious and exclusive the giving society is. I have also been meeting more people in the office and recently met Nicole Perkins, who is the Director of Alumni Engagement. She describes her job as essentially an event planner on a very large scale. She showed me how she plans out her events and her planning binders in detail. This has heightened my interest in event planning because I now have networked with someone in the field and have gotten a chance to take an insiders look at all the planning that goes into events. We discussed the Mega Reunion, which is coming up on May 11th, and all of the planning, descions and time that have gone into it so far.
Some challenges that I have faced so far are that my supervisor did not like the initial Thank You video that another intern and I shot to send to donors. We did not clearly understand her vision for the video, so we shot what we thought would be nice to receive. We also have not had a chance to put all of our videos together yet. They are still individual short shots that we were hoping to combine into one video. We have not gotten access to the software program that our supervisor wants us to use to put the videos together, so we are somewhat stuck in a rut until we get access.
I think that both the negative a positive experiences are going to have a big impact in my future career. Connecting with Nicole Perkins will impact my career greatly because she is in a position that I have considered for my future career. This will allow me to explore that option to determine if it is a path that I would like to follow or not. The negative experiences, such as not creating a video that my supervisor wanted me to, is also going to impact my future career. It will motivate me to learn what my client truly wants so that I can attempt to get it right on the first try. I have also learned how to be patient and keep myself busy as I await for access to ThankView, the software that I am to use to put together the Thank You video.
Starting a new internship can be tricky, and I have definitely learned that through my start as an intern for the Office of Development at Longwood University. Transfering from being solely a student to also being an inern has proven to be a balancing act, yet very rewarding so far.
For the durastion of this internship, I will be assisting several different people in the office with various projects. I am assisting Ms. Bulifant by helping the class of 1969 narrow down ideas on their class gift that will follow their 50th reunion next spring. I am also helping the committee members reach out to their classmates to invite them to the reunion and help them encourage donations. I am assisting Mrs. Pairet with Donor Relations and have been tasked with thank donors via thank you note and phone calls, and also producing Thank You videos to email out to donors. I will assist other people in the office with updating our data base that contains everyone who is affiliated with Longwood, including alumni, faculty, staff, students and parents. I am also to assist with posting on social media accoounts to promote different events or new developments, including the Day of Giving, the Scholarship Dinner, The Richmond Symphony, and the launch of AcademicWorks, a new scholarship program that will be launching this semester.
My teamwork and communication skills are constantly being envoked at my internship. I am tasked with helping others achieve their goals to meet the end goal, so I need to use my teamwork skills a lot to get things done. My communication skills are constantly being tested because I am constantly contacting donors. I have to tailor my message to properly converse with them in a way that will make them want to continue to give donations to Longwood.
During my internship, I hope to strengthen my speaking ability. Through talking to donors, committee members, coworkers, and others about various different topics, I will be contiually practing my speaking ability so that I can appear to be more confident in the work environment. This will help transfer to other work environments in the future because I will have practiced throughout my internship.
I am confident that this internship will provide me with a lot of new knowledge on new topics. I will gain a new comfort in the workplace and will have experience to draw on. I am also hoping that I will gain some insight into the worlds of Social Media Marketing and Event Planning through various projects that I have coming up. I am really looking forward what will come through this internship this semester!