posted November 18, 2014 9:54 AM by Gemma Doyle
The end of the semester is swiftly approaching, and I have less than a month left of my prospect research internship at Joslin Diabetes Center. One thing that I've spent a lot of the last month or so doing was working on getting my meetings done: all interns in the Development Department are required to set up and attend meetings with most members of the Development staff, to get a feel for what their job entails (this is true even, and especially, if your internship doesn't necessarily have anything to do with their work.) It's a very good way for people who might be considering a career in fundraising or marketing to see what kinds of actual roles there are, and what those roles really do on a day to day basis. I thought it would be a lot less helpful for me, as someone who is pretty set on a career path and is definitely not interested in looking at other aspects of development. It was still very interesting, because I got to see firsthand how the research I painstakingly churn out every week is actually used by the gifts officers when they approach prospects, and it's nice to see your work put to good use.
One of the meetings I had was with the department's Director, a VP at Joslin named Rick Price. (A bigwig, in other words, and not someone who you would suspect of having a lot of time to give to interns, but he makes sure to meet with every single one that goes through the office.) He gave me a great overview of the department, and how each of the various cogs contribute to the whole, and then we ended up talking about hockey for twenty minutes. (I'm from Canada! This is what we do!) I have two meetings left, and I should finish them up right around the time my internship ends.
Now that I have a little more experience with the work, I'm not sure it's for me - not as a career, anyway. My first impressions of prospect research weren't wrong - it is like a puzzle that you have to gather the pieces for, but what I didn't see at the beginning is how much of a grind the work of putting those pieces together can be sometimes. I've definitely gotten faster at researching people and companies, and have learned what websites I can generally trust, and what needs to be fact checked a few more times. But being faster and better at it doesn't detract from the repetitive nature of it, or the frustrating reality that sometimes you just can't verify things, or find the pieces you need. (Or that sometimes, after you've done hours of research on a person, the gift officers decline to follow up due to time constraints or other things that are outside of your control.) Repetitiveness and frustration are the realities of any job, at least on occasion, so that isn't enough to knock it out of my consideration of careers. It is good to know ahead of time, though, if I do take a job doing this fulltime.
My last few weeks at Joslin are going to be spent really trying to learn the tools of the trade, as well as picking up tricks that my internship supervisor gives me about research. And, of course, talking about hockey.