Clare Weston – Community Fundraising Intern in the Development Office- University of Birmingham

Why I applied to be the Community Fundraising Intern
Prior to starting my internship in the Development, Alumni and Business Engagement (DABE) Office, I had no idea about the full extent of the work that goes on here. Initially, there were three main reasons I chose to apply for the ‘Community Fundraising Intern’:

1) I did not want to return to work in the dingy bar in my hometown this summer (something I’m sure current and past students can all relate to)
2) I have always had an interest in being involved with the community through my volunteering experiences
3) The job description asked for “endless enthusiasm” and I fancied the challenge

BUIP Internship Blog Photo (final) clare w

What my role is and what DABE does
To summarise my role in a few sentences, the Community Fundraising Intern is part of the Development section within the office who are all, essentially, fundraisers. My individual role involves reaching out to community groups in the local area, informing them of our fundraising activity and getting them to fundraise for us (fingers crossed). I can predict some of you thinking, “What do you fundraise for?”.

DABE have been the people behind the Circles of Influence campaign that have funded seven new buildings on campus, on top of several research projects, raising £160 million in total for the past six years.

As the Circles of Influence of Campaign is coming to a close at the end of July, DABE have been introduced to several new research projects that they will fundraise for during the next year. I have been extremely lucky to be a part of the start of the new campaign. These research projects have been brought to DABE by academics that work for UoB who need funding to carry on with their work. The projects include topics ranging from: Children’s Cancer, Global Maternal Health, Water Sustainability, Freedom of Religion, Healthy Ageing and even the Shakespeare Institute. The academics leading each project were invited to present their research to the DABE office in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ manner – this would give the fundraisers an opportunity to ask the academics questions about the projects that they would be asked by potential donors. (I bet nobody else can say they have done Dragon’s Den in their internship, eh?)

My thoughts so far
Only half way through my first day, I realised I had definitely got the best BUIP internship (I’m not biased at all, promise). I was sitting in on the monthly ‘fundraising team’ meeting in which they discuss what is going on in the department. A part of that meeting is called ‘Alumni Surgery’ – this section is for fundraisers to bounce ideas off one another on how to engage alumni in a creative manner with the University (just to confirm, none of our alumni were actually dissected in this meeting). For data protection reasons, I will not disclose the name of the alumnus (plus, I cannot remember his/her name anyway) – but one thing I will tell you about this alumnus is that they are an alpaca breeder.
Yes, that’s right; I did say an alpaca breeder.

For the next 20 minutes of the meeting, the fundraising team – which consists of around 12 people – came up with brilliant ideas of ways to grab an alpaca breeder’s attention.

On a serious note…
Within my first two weeks, I had one-to-one meetings with a range of people from the office to inform me of all the elements of DABE. I was incredibly grateful that these super busy people were happy to spare me an hour just so I could really learn about how the office functions beyond my own role.

It’s difficult to summarise the DABE team spirit in a few words, but I would definitely say “endless enthusiasm” applies to everybody that works here in the office.

In conclusion… (I know, I’ve dragged on a bit!)
I have found myself learning something new every day even up until now – the half way point – which I think is so important when undertaking an internship. Furthermore, the internship has given me the opportunity to refine skills that I will need throughout my professional life, regardless of what career path I may follow. Ranging from improving my ‘telephone voice’ since my first day, (I’m hoping my colleagues can confirm that…) to feeling confident about representing the University when meeting people from the local community. The days fly by (in a good way) and before I know it, it’s 5pm.

I’m even looking forward to my own end-of-internship blog post to see what further progress I will make in the last six weeks!

By Clare Weston

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About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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