Employer: The Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL
Internship Sponsor: Arias Family BPIP Internship Fund
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Campus Activities: VP of philanthropy for Alpha Chi Omega, Head Start tutor, and Bucknell's club ice hockey team manager
Through the BPIP Fund, this summer I interned at the Lincoln Park Zoo as the donor relations intern. I could not have asked for a better summer experience. The Lincoln Park Zoo, a well-respected zoo located in Chicago, is continually raising money to take care of and research the animals, and also educate both the local and national community. My department gave me the freedom to work on many different things within donor relations. Everyone on my team was so willing to give me tasks that would challenge and guide me through out my experience. Every day in the office I was always doing something different, from selling tickets to the events to creating presentations to working with board members, and I once even put together a bike for a raffle prize! I did end up spending a lot of time focusing on how to run a large-scale silent auction, which I really enjoyed doing.
The summer is an incredibly busy time for The Lincoln Park Zoo fundraising department, because it hosts both a huge cocktail party event and a black-tie gala. I have always known that I enjoyed nonprofit work, but this summer I realized that I loved the event planning aspect of it. The most exciting part of my summer was attending the events and realizing how much work it took and the feeling of pride and success that goes along with it.
What is the most interesting or important thing you took from your Internship this summer?
One of the most important things I learned this summer is how important your team/department is in a work environment. Everyone on the donor relations team was so respectful and trustful of each other that we worked incredibly well together. With a respectful environment, tasks are easier to get done and you have fun doing it.
In the sphere of nonprofit, I learned that fundraising and event planning take time and an extreme amount of organization. Even with such an established nonprofit, like The Lincoln Park Zoo, it still is difficult to get people to donate large sums of money. It can be both stressful and frustrating, but when someone surprisingly pledges a huge donation or an event is a success, it is all worth.
How did the BPIP Fund help make your experience possible?
Because of the BPIP fund, I had nothing else to worry about other than my internship this summer, so I was able to fully throw myself into planning and running the exhilarating fundraising events. I was able to forget about any financial stress of interning at a nonprofit and focus on gaining as much knowledge as I could.
Why would you recommend the BPIP Fund?
Nonprofit internships notoriously are unpaid, which can cause many college students to hesitate when applying for them. I have always been involved with philanthropies and community service, but the BPIP Fund really gave me the opportunity to explore the nonprofit field. I truly believe that no matter what major you are in, working at a nonprofit for at least one summer is eye-opening and can assist you in whatever field you end up working in.
I would like to thank the BPIP Fund, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and my beyond amazing donor relations team for giving me the opportunity to explore my passion for nonprofits and prepare me for whatever my future may hold.