David Zheng ’15, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

I entered the Planned Parenthood Federation of America national office at around 9 am and met Mr. Tobias Rodriguez ‘11, the alumnus sponsor of the Princeternship, at the door. He took me up to the seventh floor, where he works, and then introduced me to his coworkers and gave me a tour of the other floors in the building. I even got to meet a person on one of the Planned Parenthood advocacy posters! After this informal tour, Tobias presented me with a schedule of events for the day.

At 11 am, I met with Jon Knowles, Director of Sexual Health Information. After he gave me a brief description of his job – he makes pamphlets and fact sheets on a variety of sex-related issues such as sexual health and birth control – we had a nice chat about the history of Planned Parenthood. We discussed the current related political issues, Margaret Sanger’s contribution to birth control, and present day contraceptive methods. When asked what inspired him to work for Planned Parenthood, Jon replied that he saw how uninformed people were about issues regarding sex and he wanted to do something about it. He even knew a girl in the 60’s who threw herself down a flight of stairs in an attempt to cause a miscarriage. I left our conversation with a few pamphlets and fact sheets, what will surely be nice reading for my train ride back to Princeton.

Then Tobias, his coworker Alex, and I enjoyed a nice Chipotle lunch on the High Line. It doesn’t get much better than 70 and sunny in New York City!

When I got back to the office, I went to my 2 pm meeting with Catherine Lozada, a writer and editor in Planned Parenthood’s communications department. She informed me that Planned Parenthood has no public relations department, so communications needs to act as a “legal eagle” in making sure that press releases are in accordance with the organization’s views and the views of the 79 affiliates of Planned Parenthood. During this meeting, I watched Catherine copy edit a blog post for www.womenarewatching.org, the political action site for Planned Parenthood. This specific blog post was about how Virginia governor Bob McDonnell signed a bill into law that forces women to receive ultrasounds when they get abortions, despite him saying that people should be in control of their healthcare. Part of Catherine’s job is making sure blog posts like these get onto the political action website so readers are aware of the pressing Planned Parenthood-related issues.

My last meeting of the day was at 4 pm with Ariel Kaplan, contributions processor of the development department. His floor handles the fundraising aspect of Planned Parenthood, and Ariel keeps the contributions database up to date. In fact, he is even working on a pilot project that aims at database integration across the country with the different Planned Parenthood affiliates to improve efficiency of contributions processing. Ariel and I spent the most of our conversation talking about the Susan G. Komen controversy, in which the organization cut funding for Planned Parenthood. At the end of our chat, he touted the virtue of nonprofit organizations, informing me that before working here he was not political at all. He said he loves working for Planned Parenthood because of the “great health benefits, atmosphere, and people.”

Overall, I had an enriching day working with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and I am very grateful to Tobias for this opportunity (and for the Chipotle). From the genuine kindness of everyone I met to the office penthouse’s fantastic view of New York City, I enjoyed every moment of this Princeternship experience. After having left the Planned Parenthood office, I feel I have gained both greater insight into the workings of a nonprofit organization and a deeper understanding of the all the issues related to the sexual and reproductive healthcare Planned Parenthood provides.

Grzegorz Nowak ’15, Princeton Education Foundation

Adrienne Rubin and Grzegorz

On Thursday, March 29th, I walked down Witherspoon Street, made a right onto Valley Road, and entered the Princeton Public Schools Administrative Building for the first day of my Princeternship with the Princeton Education Foundation. The Princeton Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports excellence in education in the Princeton Public Schools and has contributed over $1,000,000 to the Princeton Public Schools since its inception in 1995.   I was met in the lobby by Adrienne Rubin (Music ’88), the Executive Director of the Princeton Education Foundation.  As we headed upstairs to the alum’s office, I learned that Mrs. Rubin is the first and only employee of the Princeton Education Foundation.  The remainder of the Princeton Education Foundation is a group of volunteers that make up the Board of Members.  I quickly realized that the Princeternship was going to be a special experience when Mrs. Rubin told me how working for a nonprofit is rewarding by knowing that you are doing something good for the community and seeing the positive change you are making.  Although the work keeps you busy and can be difficult, it is something that gets you up in the morning excited, which is what every job should do for a person. 

Mrs. Rubin set me up working on a project for the Princeton Education Foundation’s annual Spring Gala, the nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser.  I entered donors into an Excel spreadsheet so that the information can be entered into a larger database.  I saw that the generous donations from the supportive community were what kept the Princeton Education Foundation doing the great things that it was for the Princeton Public Schools.  While the Princeton Public Schools received funding from taxes, this was only able to do so much.  The Princeton Education Foundation helped take the Princeton Public Schools from adequacy to excellence. 

After going on a Breakout Trip where I had the incredible opportunity of working with nonprofits providing health care to undocumented and uninsured patients in Los Angeles the week before my Princeternship, it was inspiring to see how another nonprofit can positively impact its community.   During my second and final day of the Princeternship, I had the fun task of creating a brochure for the Princeton Education Foundation, which helped me learn why the Princeton Education Foundation does the great work that it does.  A quote from a video created by the Princeton Education Foundation, “We all get into this business because we want to help kids, you see every kid shine,” will surely stay in the back of my head as I realized that by working hard to positively impact something you are passionate about you can do amazing things for those around you.  I look forward to the moment I find an issue that I love so deeply I can also do nonprofit work and make a positive impact.

The Princeternship program is special because even after only a few hours, the alum made me feel connected to the Princeton alumni community.  I love helping others achieve their dreams because I know there were many people that helped me get to where I am.  I am very glad and thankful someone as friendly and nice as Mrs. Rubin was there to share her experiences and work with me.  I plan on continuing the great tradition of Princeton alumni by helping future Princetonians figure out their passions when I am an one day an alumnus.

Mengyi Xu ’14, Civic Consulting Alliance

Mengyi and Alex Sherman

I met with my host Mr. Alexander Gail Sherman ‘97 a couple of days prior to starting the actual Princeternship at his office on the 43rd floor of the Chase Tower. I have always had trouble with navigating around high-rise buildings, and of course, I got lost finding the Civic Consulting Alliance (CCA). It was a brief meeting for me to introduce myself and for Mr. Sherman to tell me about his work as a principal at the CCA. It is always nice to talk to alums because one is sure to find that nothing at Princeton has really changed. Mr. Sherman showed me his calendar for the rest of the week and we decided on the dates for me to come in and explore what pro bono consulting really means. I was also glad to chat with one of the newer fellows at CCA who just graduated from college last year. It was very interesting to hear about her career choices and why she chose CCA!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

After having finished judging a science fair at my high school, I took the Brown Line train to downtown and got off where Mr. Sherman and I had set to meet in front of the City Hall. From there we  walked over to the headquarters of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to meet with their newly appointed Chief Safety and Security Officer Jadine Chou. While we waited, Mr. Sherman briefed me on some background information about this meeting, which was basically part of an ongoing conversation between CPS and CCA on working collaboratively to reduce youth violence in Chicago, especially in areas for which CPS is responsible. In fact, Ms. Chou had just returned from an on site investigation over a shooting that took place that morning at a CPS school. Ms. Chou really emphasized throughout the meeting that she wanted to take on a comprehensive approach in addressing this youth violence problem. Mr. Sherman asked her how CCA could help. This was really important, as Mr. Sherman later told me, because in this field, you always want to make sure you are clear about what your clients need and adjust your role accordingly. CCA is very unique in the sense that a lot of their staff members are on loan from other businesses and organizations, so a good understanding of the clients’ (for the most part the City of Chicago or Cook County) needs allows CCA to devise the most suitable strategic plans. CCA helps its clients communicate effectively with their other partners. For instance, during this meeting, Mr. Sherman advised Ms. Chou to frame the youth violence question in a way that would bring out the storyline and to set deadlines for implementing the specific ideas. What really struck me was the number of names that was brought up during the meeting as collaborators. For my first meeting experience with the CCA, I must say that I was deeply overwhelmed. I am sure that a lot of time gets spent preparing for these meetings, and my subsequent encounters during the Princeternship confirmed this.

Right afterwards, we met up with Kristen from CCA and headed together to a meeting a couple of blocks away at Accenture, a global management consulting firm. Three other people were waiting for us from Accenture and C Change, a strategic marketing agency. This meeting was for all three relevant parties to talk about an upcoming advertising campaign that C Change has been charged to create for Accenture about Accenture’s recent pro bono projects. Since CCA had been the main liaison for Accenture’s involvement in pro bono projects such as the city leadership transition and city college projects, Mr. Sherman’s inputs for the content of the video were critical. When I asked him how he manages to keep everything straight in his mind, especially given that he was having these meetings back to back, he told me that that’s why he started the meeting with a round of introductions. That’s a strategy that he has developed over the years, talking about the general mission of the CCA and his role within the organization is a good way for him to switch gears and refocus between meetings.

Then we went back to the CCA office and Mr. Sherman took some time to prepare the agenda for the next meeting with Felicia Davis, who is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety for the City of Chicago. At this meeting, which took place at City Hall, Mr. Sherman debriefed Ms. Davis on CPS’s priorities in the violence prevention effort. We were joined by Lincoln, another member of the CCA team. They discussed the agenda items for the upcoming city agency meeting on violence prevention and Mr. Sherman proposed to put together a PowerPoint presentation to better deliver their ideas at the meeting.

Right after the discussion with Ms. Davis, we went to the Office of the Cook County President Preckwinkle for a meeting with her chief of staff, Kurt Summers. At this meeting, they talked about the progress of STAR, which stands for “set targets, achieve results”, a Cook County initiative to set performance metrics for its various agencies. It is a collaboration that includes the Cook County Board of Commissioners, the Board President, County Agencies, employee unions and residents. I must say that it has been a very busy and eye-opening day for me. So much happened!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I had an early start today. I arrived at CCA at 7:30 am because Mr. Sherman had a conference call with a representative from Microsoft at 8:00 am. It was my first time seeing an actual conference call machine, so obviously I was very excited. The person representing Microsoft was a former military member who had worked on the security teams for the 1996 Olympics Games in Atlanta. He joined Microsoft’s department on homeland security and counter-terrorism after retiring from the military. I surely was amazed by the interesting people that I got to meet during this Princeternship!

CCA has been asked by the City of Chicago to coordinate the safety and security measures during the G8 and NATO meetings that are both taking place in Chicago in May of this year. So obviously, our contact was the perfect person to talk to. Our contact gave CCA a lot of very constructive suggestions in terms of finding the right people to staff these events including names of his former colleagues. He talked of the criticality of developing both preventive and reactionary plans of action, including logistic plans. Things like evacuation plans, responses to riots, and even the availability of respirators in hospitals are definitely not what one thinks about when talking about consulting, yet these are the things for which CCA has to prepare the relevant City agencies for the upcoming summits. This meeting really opened up my eyes to the complexity of CCA’s client cases – Mr. Sherman’s work is really about bringing experts from all relevant fields together and using his own expertise to facilitate collaborations to best address his clients’ needs. This was a mind blowing experience and I almost felt that I myself was learning to think about issues more critically, comprehensively and strategically – too bad that the conference call only lasted for an hour.

Then at 9:00 am, we went over to the City Hall to meet with Juliana Stratton, who is the Executive Director of the Cook County Judicial Advisory Council. This is one of the many meetings that revolve around the STAR initiative and ways to use it as a management tool for the relevant city agencies. During this meeting, Mr. Sherman and Juliana also discussed some details about the One Summer Chicago Program, which is an initiative that seeks to place high-risk youth (CPS students mostly) in jobs over the summer and consequently reduce violence in relevant communities. The program partners with city and county agencies as well as private sector businesses to identify suitable placement opportunities. Some of the issues discussed included who should be the target audience of this program (who is qualified, how is the database of eligible youth created and maintained, etc), how many spots will be offered, what types of programs should be offered, as well as concerns with engagement and evaluation. This was basically a preparation for the general meeting with relevant city agencies later in the afternoon.

Afterwards, Mr. Sherman had an hour or so to work on preparing materials and recommendations for his clients, such as a draft framing document that Ms. Chou requested at the meeting yesterday. Finally, the long-awaited One Summer Chicago Planning Meeting came around. I believe there were about 25 people in attendance, representing various city agencies and organizations that would be involved in or affected by the One Summer Chicago program. I was rather surprised but also glad to see some familiar faces around the otherwise somewhat intimidating conference room. After a customary round of introductions, the attendees jumped straight into the logistics of the initiative. Everything from the timeline of the placement process, youth qualifications to the management of the application portal to the impact of the program and whether or not it should be shaped into a year round program was talked about. I was very surprised that a group of this size was able to generate efficiently so many productive ideas.
 
Thursday, December 28, 2011
 
Today, I got to experience a different side of CCA, no longer so much running around between meetings but a quieter day at the office. I had expressed to Mr. Sherman earlier about my interest in the Chicago tourism offices merger project that some of his colleagues were working on, and so he introduced me to Kelly Ruppel, an associate principal at CCA. She gladly explained to me the project. She told me that currently there are two main agencies, Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture (COTC) and Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau (CCTB), which one is a 501c3 non profit organization and the other a 501c6 membership based organization, they have overlapping roles for the city of Chicago tourism industry. Thus, it has been decided that it is in Chicago’s interest to consolidate the two and centralize resources to really market Chicago as a prime tourism destination. CCA has been charged to determine the exact procedure for the merger such as legal structure, etc. Ms. Ruppel asked me if I would be interested in helping her do some research on funding viability for the merged organization. I was thrilled to get this chance to experience first hand the work that they have to do on a daily basis. However, the actual task turned out to be much harder than expected. Finding the organizations’ past funding sources was definitely not as obvious as it might sound and reading through their financial statements to find clues was difficult. After a morning of Googling and searching on the websites of foundations (MacArthur, Joyce, Prizker, etc), I finally came up with a good list of past grants awarded to the COTC. Hopefully, it would be useful for the project.

Overall, I really enjoyed this Princeternship as it allowed me to experience the daily activities of a field that I didn’t even know existed before this winter. Before meeting Mr. Sherman, I had no idea that pro bono and consulting are compatible concepts that one could put together in one phrase, but after this Princeternship, I can’t but marvel at the potential of this exciting field. Thanks to Career Services for giving me this opportunity and thanks to Mr. Sherman for allowing me to be your shadow at all your meetings! I had a great time at CCA!

 

Jenna Rodrigues ’14, APPRISE

On Wednesday, January 11th, I took the long journey over to APPRISE, a center for public policy research that is located on Nassau Street. As soon as I arrived, I was welcomed into the office and introduced to everyone over a breakfast table of bagels. At the start of the day, I shadowed a Policy Analyst named Jen who has been intently working on the National Weatherization Assistance Program Evaluation for quite some time. Other projects that she spoke to me about included the CFL Saturization Market Characterization in New York, followed by the Cell Phone Landline Study through which they would compare landline phones to cell phones. She then introduced me to the process of survey research which proceeds as follows: pretest, survey revisions, contacting of the phone center to program the survey in CATI, testing of the CATI, correcting the mistakes, writing memos to train interviewers, and checking in on the phone service to monitor calls. After giving me some background on survey construct methods, Jen talked to me about the indoor air quality and the staff survey parts of the Weatherization evaluation. 

After receiving a wonderful background from Jen, I went over to shadow Brian. It was his last day at APPRISE, so he was attempting to finish up a report for the Weatherization Project. He told me about the goals of weatherization, in attempting to reduce energy costs and find ways to make the home more energy efficient based upon the auditor’s inspection. During my time with Brian, I read over the report from the social scientist, which discussed how the auditor visits went, and the final inspection reports. Brian’s current task was to write the reports for the WAP program for different states. He showed me how he transformed the report he obtained from the social scientist and from the weatherization expert into a summary report to provide to the agency.

Next, I shadowed Jeffrey who was working on the survey for the EEPS Workforce Development Program. In this survey, the main questions being asked were whether individuals had heard about the program or not, and if not, what would make them more interested. He introduced me to the idea of coding, and told me that if a question with verbatim responses had at least 5% of a selective response, they would create a new code for that response to clarify the analysis. He then showed me the disposition form, and told me that they use this to determine if they need to give the call center more sample in order to reach the desired number of survey completes. He explained that both APPRISE and the call center want to reach a certain number of completes in order to get the survey out of the field and begin the analysis process. The disposition form allows APPRISE to make sure the phone center is on track and performing correctly.

After the morning of shadowing, I went to lunch with Dan, Colleen, and Jeff at Theresa’s in town.

Next, I shadowed Colleen, who talked to me about her Puget Sound Energy Survey, which examines home energy reports, and examining how much energy saving is double counted. She also described to me the specific details in the way that she, as a Policy Analyst, must edit the surveys,.

Finally, I shadowed Daya who talked about the National WAP evaluation that she is currently working on. She described the WIPP initiative that involves a set of funds that are put aside for innovative methods, different uses of technology, or different financing techniques to enhance energy efficiency. Her role was to do pre and post-weatherization surveys, field visits, and billing analysis. Daya further taught me some of the details of the Microsoft ACCESS she uses to maintain a relationship between charts and enter data. I discovered that the main differences between ACCESS and Excel are that it is easier to set up data entry forms, it minimizes errors, and it automatically saves your work.

Once I had shadowed all of the Policy Analysts that were in for the day, I did a debriefing with Daya and Colleen. Some things that were surprising to me were the low target for complete samples on various projects and how high success rates were for people whose households had been weatherized. In the debriefing, we discussed further the major objectives and responsibilities in APPRISE, concluding that sometimes their role is from the beginning with the evaluation plan, and sometimes they come in at the middle stage of a project to do the data processing.

Overall, I had a great time at APPRISE and I gained a wonderful insight into data processing and survey research. I never knew how much programming and specificity was incorporated in the process of getting surveys to a phone center to conduct to various individuals. I found the research performed at APPRISE fascinating and I would love to learn more about the subject matter and research methods in the future. I want to thank everyone at APPRISE for spending the time to show me what they were working on and for being such a welcoming group of people.

 

Pujan Rai ’14, DonorsChoose.org

 

I arrived at the Donorschoose.org headquartersat 9:30 am for the first day of my Princeternship. Andrew Protain ’06, was hosting me and another Princetern, Sejal Pachisia, for three days. Andrew is the Teacher User Experience Specialist at Donorschoose.org (DC). I am very thankful to him for preparing a highly organized schedule that allowed us to meet with people from all the departments we were interested in.

Andrew introduced us to the Chief Operating Officer at DC, Cesar Bocanegra. We went to one of the small, cozy meeting rooms for a short meeting with Mr. Bocanegra. He gave us a brief overview of the different departments at DC and their functions. I really enjoyed talking to Mr. Bocanegra. He talked to us about his career path and work experience before joining DC. I realized that it is very important for a person to follow his interest if he/she wants to enjoy his job. I met a number of people at DC who said that their interest in education was the main reason why they loved working at DC.

Then we met the Operations Associate, Diane Finkel, and joined her in her Logistics and Business Relations team check-in. It was an interesting experience. AlthoughI did not understand certain technical terms, the meeting was very insightful. I felt that the environment of discussion was quite friendly and casual. After the meeting, we had lunch with Andrew and Charlotte Weiskittel ’06, another Princeton alum at DC. We talked about Princeton and activities we were/are involved at the university. I felt glad to know that Andrew was the editor-in-chief of a Princeton student run magazine that I now work for.

Then we participated in one of my favorite experiences of the Princeternship. We helped put together Thank-You packages that would be sent to donors. I read very sweet thank-you letters and cards from the students.  The students would often describe the equipment bought with the help of the donations and how they have improved their learning abilities. I could see the impact DC was making in the lives of these students when I read their sincere gratitude. Then, we participated in the tech team meeting. We witnessed how the small tech team communicated with one another and how they managed their daily activities.

Overall, the environment at DC had a very casual atmosphere. I did not find cubicles that separated the staff. Instead, DC staff could see each other and the CEO, Charles Best, from their desk. I noticed that DC was a small, closely knit organization that was making a huge impact in the improvement of public schools in the nation. Most of the DC staff I talked to stressed that they loved working at DC because even though it is a small organization, they feel that their individual efforts make certain impact in the lives of many students and teachers.

January 11, 2012 Wednesday

Fellow Princetern Sejal, Andrew Protain, and Pujan

The second day at Donorschoose.org (DC) began with a debriefing of the first day with Andrew Protain ’08. I thanked Andrew for firstly offering to host us and secondly arranging such insightful interactions with other members of DC. Then we met the Marketing Manager of DC, Anna Doherty, followed by a meeting with Vice President of DC’s Human Capital, Thalia Theodore. Mrs. Theodore informed us about the hiring practices of DC. She also shed light on how the training and orientation of new employees are handled. It was interesting to note that not many international students, like me, apply to work at DC.

After that, we had lunch with the customer relations team. I noticed the members of the team have had diverse career backgrounds before joining DC. The team members also informed us about their roles at DC. There were many job descriptions that sounded similar but had subtle differences in operations. I also learned that employees at DC often changed their roles according to changing demands and therefore had to be quite flexible. After the lunch, we met with the Accounting Manager, Rama Louis. She had a lot of useful suggestions for us. Her most important suggestion was to work doing something we are really passionate about. She claimed that if one is passionate about his/her work, work will not feel like work. She also added that one might have to start lower down the order and gradually move up to his/her dream job. She also emphasized teamwork over smartness or efficiency as the secret to success.

After talking to Rama, we met with the Director of Partnerships and Business Development, Elaine Perez. She informed us that DC managed its operations from two types of funds: direct funds and partnerships with corporations and foundations. She informed us that DC has been doing well on its corporate partnerships but would like to increase the share of the direct donations. She told us about various incidents in which DC had unexpectedly been funded by foundations because of its focus on education.

Then we participated in a project that was the most amazing experience of the Princeternship. We wore both given DC gift cards and asked to donate to different projects using the DC website. I donated to two projectsthat dealt with purchasing equipment to help English-learning in public schools with a significant number of students who speak English as a second language. I very much identified with the projects because I myself used to listen to the BBC to learn English. It was a very rewarding experience to see the projects get completed and to receive thank you emails from the teachers.

We ended the day with a meeting with Zach Walker, the Donor Relations Manager. He informed us about the performance review exercises that DC employs to provide its employees with crucial feedback. Mr. Walker pulled up his own performance review sheet and walked us through the different sections under it. I found the exercise very helpful and constructive.

January 12, 2012 Thursday

The final day of the Princeternship began with a meeting with the Development Director of the Partnership and Business Development team, Reyna Booth. Although we had already met a representative from the department the previous day, the meeting was still helpful because Mrs. Booth gave a more general perspective where as we had received a more corporate oriented overview before. She also informed us about how different companies helped DC by distributing DC gift cards among its employees. Such initiatives have yielded good results both for DC and the companies.

Then we participated in a presentation that explored the possibility of using a program called Salesforce for improved customer service. Although there were many technical terms that I did not understand, the participants were engaged in a cost benefit analysis of switching from the present program to Salesforce. After that, we had a kype session with the Screening Manager, Alex Pruner. She informed us about different marketing strategies adopted by DC. It was very nice of Andrew to have scheduled the skype session because the other Princetern was very interested in the marketing side of DC.

Then we sat in an Operations meeting followed by a final debriefing with Andrew. We were very thankful to Andrew for putting up such a well-organized Princeternship. We managed to explore so much of DC in 3 days. The day ended with a guest speech by Carla Harris, Board Chair of Morgan Stanley Foundation and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. Mrs. Harris shared words of wisdom on ways to achieve success. She stressed that the term success should not be a vague concept. It should be concrete and we should develop our personality in such a way that adjectives associated with that type of success suit us. She further shed light on the importance of mentors and sponsors in furthering one’s career. She also stressed on the importance of listening and accepting positive criticism. She highlighted that academics, experience and network were all important for success. I found the talk very inspirational and a good note to end the Princeternship.

I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank Andrew Protain ’06 for putting up such a well-organized, insightful and helpful Princeternship. These 3 days have informed me a lot about how DC and similar nonprofits operate and has inspired me to play some part in helping them make an impact. I have also applied for an international internship at another nonprofit that deals with female literacy after the Princeternship.

 

Jenna McCarthy ’13, APPRISE

I made the quick journey up to 32 Nassau Street to the APPRISE office on January 11. Inside, I was greeted by staff members who graciously provided bagels for us. APPRISE is a nonprofit research institute that collects and analyzes data and information to assess and improve public programs. Throughout the day, I shadowed seven of the Policy Analysts, and each one discussed projects and showed me what they did on a daily basis.

Surveys are one of many research activities that APPRISE performs to obtain data and information used to assess public programs. Dan, one of the Policy Analysts, was working on a survey for the NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority). He explained that part of APPRISE’s job is to edit the surveys to make sure that the respondent understands the questions and can provide accurate responses. Another task is to test the computerized version of the survey instrument to ensure that it works correctly.  For example, often questions will be skipped based on the response to other questions, and this task ensures that these skips work correctly. After they ensure that the skip patterns function correctly, they send the surveys to a call center. APPRISE uses a number of call centers, and they often travel to their headquarters to train employees who will administer the surveys. In the beginning of each survey, they also listen in and take notes to see whether or not the call center employee is doing a good job. Once the surveys are complete, APPRISE will either analyze the data and assess what implications the survey results have for program improvement, or send the survey data to the client so that they can analyze it themselves. One of APPRISE’s biggest projects right now is the evaluation of the National Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which I heard a lot about from many of the Policy Analysts. There are many different research tasks that comprise this evaluation, including surveys, impact analysis, and on-site observation and data collection.

My day at APPRISE was a great learning experience, and I really got a feel for what it’s like to work in a nonprofit setting. The office was very open and informal, which was great – they even had a small party at the end with cake because one of the Policy Analysts was leaving for a new job. My experience at APPRISE definitely showed me that I would be interested in doing this kind of work someday, and I would recommend this Princeternship to anyone interested in nonprofit work, energy efficiency, or data analysis in general.

 

Harold Li ’15, Princeton Education Foundation

I spent three days interning for the Princeton Education Foundation, initially knowing nothing more about the corporation than its mission to facilitate private funding to public schools in the Princeton area. I was first greeted by Adrienne Rubin, the Executive Director of the foundation. We started the day by having a brief discussion of the foundation’s role in the education sector, and I realized that the organization not only provides funding, but also serves as an important connection between numerous different parts of the community, which encompasses concerned parents, the regional board of education, and donors. Adrienne also introduced me to the numerous initiatives that the Princeton Education Foundation have been actively involved in, including the Power-up campaign aimed at encouraging funding for enhanced technological resources, as well as the annual mini-grants that are granted to teachers inspired to conduct classes in a more innovative and effective manner. I was immediately struck by not only the multi-dimensional responsibilities and tasks that Adrienne has to deal with every day, but also how imperative and essential the nonprofit organization is to the local community; it acts both as a “bridge” and a benefactor to the Princeton community.

I spent the majority of my time in my Princeternship assisting Adrienne with two projects involving research on potential donor prospects. As the foundation encourages philanthropy, it is important that the company approaches the appropriate prospects that have more intimate connections with the Princeton public school community. Thus, I examined numerous databases with various arrays of information and helped Adrienne determine a couple dozen prospects that have a stronger association with the public school system and will most likely be willing to contribute to public education. I also conducted some background research on potential donors that could benefit the foundation’s prospects of garnering philanthropic contributions from the local community.

The meetings I attended during my Princeternship were the highlights of my experience. On the first day, I participated in the annual Community Works Conference held in the Frist Campus Center, where over 200 differentnonprofit organizations in the region were represented. Here, I listened to and acquired knowledge from speakers, including Adrienne, on how to “orchestrate” the success of a nonprofit organization. I learned about the ways nonprofit leaders utilize their resources and networking skills to achieve their societal missions, and I realized that the ultimate skill that leads to success is possessing strong communication skills. On the second day, I followed Adrienne to a Parents Teachers Organization (PTO) meeting at Johnson Park Elementary School. In the meeting, parents and teachers discussed the prospects of utilizing its annual funds to improve technological equipment in the school, and expressed their concerns of future funding by the Board of Education to Adrienne. I was impressed by the enthusiasm and concern the parents exhibited towards the education of their children; however, the meeting also illustrated the inherent distrust between the parents and the administrative board of education. As an international student, I found this experience invaluable, as it shed light on the state of the American Education system at the moment, and I was able to relate this to many of the dilemmas that exist in my public education system back home.  Later that morning, I also attended a brief meeting with Church & Dwight, Co, which provides funding for the “Music After School Program,” one of many projects that the Princeton Education Foundation runs. Again, I witnessed the importance of networking effectively with professional partners in order for the foundation to receive the funding that is necessary to keep the company running as well as to better Princeton education.

Adrienne Rubin and Harold

I had a splendid time working with Adrienne at the Princeton Education Foundation, and it was a wonderful experience getting to know more about the state of education around the Princeton area. I would recommend this Princeternship to anyone interested in knowing more about the nonprofit industry, especially in education.

Danielle Kutasov ’14, Civic Consulting Alliance

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Wednesday morning, I caught a bus into downtown Chicago and found my way to the office of the Civic Consulting Alliance (CCA). Once I arrived to the Chase Tower, where CCA is located, I was greeted by Princeton alumnus Alexander Gail Sherman ’97, a Principal at the Civic Consulting Alliance. The Civic Consulting Alliance is a nonprofit organization that brings together teams of business experts, government leaders, and CCA staff members, to help improve the city of Chicago. CCA works on everything from economic development to education to public safety. The staff members at the Civic Consulting Alliance represent a large variety of academic and professional backgrounds.

After taking a few minutes to meet everyone in the office, I accompanied Alexander to a meeting at the Office of the President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. The meeting, with the Director of Policy for the County Board, was focused on ways the County could collaborate with the Civic Consulting Alliance over ongoing public safety and violence reduction efforts in Chicago. On the way back from the meeting, I discussed this a bit further with Alexander and had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his work at CCA more generally. It was also wonderful to get his advice on various career options that I have been considering. Because his work brings him into contact with so many different people and organizations, Alexander seems almost infinitely knowledgeable about everything I was curious about.

I stepped out for lunch with Julius Dimas ’10, an Associate Civic Fellow at CCA (and another fellow Princetonian!). It was interesting to hear the perspective of a recent college graduate working at the Civic Consulting Alliance, and it was also great to discuss some of our common Princeton memories. We finished off day one with a few meetings; first, we walked over to City Hall for a monthly collaboration meeting, which included heads of various agencies (like Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Police Department), representatives of the City government, and CCA staff. Finally, I sat in on another meeting in City Hall to discuss anti-violence and community stabilization efforts, especially summer programs to help high-risk youth in Chicago. Day one gave me a taste of the wonderful range of activities that comprise Alexander’s work at the Civic Consulting Alliance.

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Alex Sherman and Danielle

On day two, I met Alexander in a coffee shop for a meeting to discuss databases holding information on social services in Chicago. After that, we made the quick walk back to the CCA office and Alexander finished off some preparation for a meeting with the President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners later in the day. During this time I  had the opportunity to sit down with Kelsey Burr, an Associate Principal with the Civic Consulting Alliance. This was a particularly fascinating conversation; Kelsey has had experience in a diverse range of public and private sector organizations, having worked at places like the New York Federal Reserve and Boston Consulting Group. I was intrigued to hear about his experiences in these different organizations. His advice was some of the most insightful and helpful I have received.

The next meeting was with Toni Preckwinkle, President of Cook County Board. This was especially exciting for me because President Preckwinkle represented the 4th Ward of Chicago (where my childhood home is located) for 19 years, before being elected as Cook County Board President in 2010. In this meeting, Alexander and his colleagues from CCA presented their plans for an innovative summer program to help high-risk youth in Chicago. We finished off the day with a meeting on anti-violence and community stabilization efforts, with members of the City and County government staffs.

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Day three started off quite interestingly, with a train ride to the offices of UCAN, a social service agency that serves more than 12,000 children and youth who have suffered trauma. CCA staff shared their plans for the summer program to help high-risk youth, and all those present at the meeting brainstormed how UCAN could partner with CCA to be part of the effort. UCAN staff also shared some of their most exciting current activities and efforts. Before heading back to CCA offices in downtown, I sat in on a conference call between CCA staff and a few employees of Ernst and Young, to discuss collaboration on some upcoming violence reduction efforts for the city of Chicago.

Once we returned to the Civic Consulting Alliance office, we moved into the conference room for a meeting with about 15 Chicago leaders to solidify the final plans for the summer program to help high-risk youth. Alexander and I stepped out a few minutes early to head to the offices of Accenture, a global consulting firm. The beautiful space and even more gorgeous views from the 33rd floor office was breathtaking, but the Accenture and Civic Consulting Alliance executives got right down to business. Throughout the almost two-hour meeting, I was endlessly fascinated by the conversation on workforce development in Chicago and the potential for reproducing the Civic Consulting model in other cities.

My time at the Civic Consulting Alliance was fascinating, informative, and enjoyable. I really appreciated the opportunity to sit down and talk with so many inspiring people, and it was wonderful to be exposed to a variety of organizations, from non-profits to government agencies to larger consulting firms. This experience has definitely given me a lot to think about with regards to my career plans.

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity!