My first week at The Nature Conservancy in Arlington, VA was better than I ever expected. After 3 days of employee training, I was ready to take everything I had learned from employee speakers and guest presenters and apply it to the Foundation Relations team, of which I was a brand new member. During my first official week as a team member, I was introduced to the projects I will be working on during the summer, mostly via Skype. It was interesting to learn that a good portion of employees in the Development department work across different states, so most of my introductory meetings were not in person. The projects I will be working on vary from budget analyses to creating a new potential health market for donors in The Nature Conservancy. I already anticipate I will learn a great deal regarding Foundation Relations and Development during my 10 weeks here at TNC.
As part of my Sustainability minor requirements, I am using this internship to complete my field experience credits. It involves creating a research proposal, which I have already completed before starting my internship. However, I am starting to run into a couple roadblocks and feel that I may need to change my course of action. Donor research and donor engagement is highly classified information, and it is illegal to reveal donor information outside of the small circle of necessary employees. While I believe I can work around this dilemma, it may mean I will need to seek out help when deciding what information I can use and not use for my research project. I did not expect the research project to be an easy task, but roadblocks such as these are not fun to encounter. I am thankful I have such a welcoming team that will take time to assist me in anything I need.
On a more positive note, I am incredibly fortunate to be working at such a highly regarded organization. Most people I have talked to have worked for TNC for most of their career, simply because they love the work environment too much to leave. I already feel like a contributing member of the team and have received nothing but respect from my fellow employees. I think my biggest worry coming into this internship was that I would not be taken seriously or treated with respect. That worry went out the door the minute I stepped into my building. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store for me.