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Internship with Penn State Division of Development and Alumni Relations -Office of Development Communications
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Caroline Briselli

Paterno Fellow
Major: History
Minor: BUSLA, Middle East Studies
Hometown: Hershey, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

The Division of Development and Alumni Relation (DDAR) internship program is very well-publicized in the fall semester, and I learned about it through a mass email that was sent out to students. I knew that I would have some free space in my schedule during senior year, so I worked with my office to coordinate a 30hrs/week internship for this semester.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

In my role, I support DDAR's internal and external communications. Internally, I work on DDAR's employee website, where I write original content and re-post relevant development-related news. Externally, I support DDAR by writing proposals for specific donors, writing letter and email appeals for broader audiences and writing thank you letters. I also proofread and, in the future, will be contributing to DDAR's external publications, like We Are magazine. I also get to help with managing and creating content for DDAR's social media.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience has provided the opportunity to apply my liberal arts skills to a real-world job. In particular, I've learned how valuable my writing and research skills are. The majority of my job is writing, similar to many of my classes where the majority of my classwork involved writing. My writing skills have allowed me to convey information concisely, persuasively and in a variety of formats, from long proposals to short emails. Additionally, in order to build an argument for why giving to Penn State is a good decision, I often do a lot of research on academic programs and historic philanthropy at Penn State. This is an opportunity to use the research skills that I've developed in my history classes, especially because I find myself using PSU libraries to do much of my research.

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

I've learned that I enjoy using my communication skills to advocate for institutions and products that I care about.

After graduation, I am interested in pursuing a career in corporate communications; I have a particular interest in Fortune 500, consumer packaged goods companies. This sounds very different from what I am doing in DDAR but, in many ways, it isn't. I've learned that I enjoy using my communication skills to advocate for institutions and products that I care about. This requires thinking creatively, putting yourself in the shoes of your audience and considering what will resonate with them. I've found that both corporate communications and development communications allows me to do this, and it has opened my eyes to the field of non-profit communications. Every cultural institution, educational institution and charity has a communications department, and I have learned how dynamic and interesting this field is.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would absolutely recommend this experience to other liberal arts students! This is an opportunity to gain a great working experience while still living in State College. It's also a chance to support your school and give back, especially because many of us have ourselves benefited from philanthropy. Additionally, it's a great opportunity to see how applicable a liberal arts degree can be in the professional world.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

In this role, I've really learned about the philanthropic leadership of the Paternos, and I've come to appreciate -- even more -- how they gave back to this school. As part of one of my projects, I got to do a lot of research on the Paterno family's contributions to the campaign in the late nineties, particularly in meeting with donors to fundraise for the library addition. It's given me a new appreciation of how unique it is that we had a football coach so engaged in academics and philanthropy, and it's made me even more proud to be a Paterno Fellow.

For more information on internships for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.

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