During my Princeternship experience at the Princeton Education Foundation, I shadowed Executive Director Adrienne Rubin ’88. On the first day, she warmly greeted me and showed me around the building and her office before we settled down to chat about my interests in education and non-profits over a cup of tea. We also discussed the many stages of her career and how she had arrived at the Foundation. I found it fascinating that she, a music major, had first worked as an actuary, then for Alumni Relations, and then for a different non-profit before the Foundation. Probably the most important reason I found this Princeternship experience so rewarding was because Mrs. Rubin was a model of someone who had enjoyed her work at all times of her life. She was not afraid to switch paths when she started to be less innovative and enthusiastic about her job. I think I’ll reflect back on this first conversation with her several times throughout my life because I think it is the first time I’ve had a candid discussion with someone who genuinely found her work interesting and satisfying and not just a means to an end.
During my Princeternship, I assisted Mrs. Rubin with preparations for the upcoming Spring Gala, one of the Foundation’s annual fundraisers. For the first two days, I merged data from two lists to create a master list of local businesses approached in the past years for the Gala and researched even more businesses to add to the list of potential donors.
On the third day, Mrs. Rubin picked me up from the University at 8:20 am, and we drove directly to John Witherspoon Middle School. The first meeting was a PTO meeting. Since I am interested in education, and am thinking about pursuing a Teacher Preparation certificate so I can teach math at the secondary school level, I really enjoyed this glimpse at how adults think about education. Mrs. Rubin talked about the latest project the Foundation is funding, a program to help teenagers deal with grief, as well as the Foundation’s mini-grant program. The parents at the meeting also raised their concerns about the pros and cons of national assessments of student academic achievement and security in the Princeton schools in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. At the second meeting, the fruits of my work on the potential donor list were handed out to volunteers who would contact the businesses about the Gala. Seeing others making use of the work I’d done was very rewarding. After we had lunch, I started a final project that compared and analyzed data from the past two years of fundraising campaigns.
Overall, I highly recommend the Princeternship program. The length of the program fits conveniently and relatively easily into break or reading period, and two or three days really is enough to give you a taste of what it is like to be out in the working world. I learned a lot about education foundations and nonprofits from this experience, and I am extremely grateful to Mrs. Rubin for this opportunity.