2009 PFIG Recipient Victoria White
College of Arts & Sciences
2010 Graduation Year
Internship: Alzheimer's Association Central & Western Virginia
Notes on the first week
June 3rd, 2009 was the first day of my internship at the Alzheimer’s Association, where I, Victoria "Tori" White, assisted as a Special Events intern. At first, I was a little nervous, although I had already met most of the staff and my supervisor when I applied to the position. Everyone was very friendly, and my assistance was (and is) greatly appreciated. After a quick second introduction to the staff, I met with my Supervisor, the Alzheimer’s Association’s Event Planner. She gave me information to give me a background on some of the main projects I will be helping with this summer and a binder of information describing the latest HBO special about Alzheimer’s Disease. We discussed the duties entrusted to me over the course of the summer, and what I could get started on today. In addition, I got my own email account at the Alzheimer’s Association and was able to work in a professional office.
One of the main tasks of which I was in charge, was to solicit prizes and funding for our event: Memory Walk and Memory Walk Team week. As I had done the financing/prize solicitation for an event my Sociology class hosted in High School and for the German Society, a Club at UVA, I knew what I needed to do, in order to accomplish this task. I felt very prepared for my job and headed right to work immediately after setting up my email account (There had been a few issues with that). I read all the documentation about my events, researched it further online within the Association’s Database. Within the first two hours of my first day, I had become familiar with the office, knowledgeable about my events, and created a spread sheet detailing all the businesses I planned to contact and the stipulations involved with requesting donations. It seemed that all my previous experiences, which weren’t an actual "job", served me well and prepared me for my internship. (It isn’t all about work experience, but also the roles you play in your activities!)
My first day in the office was primarily spent at the computer, on the phone, and speaking to some of my new colleagues about our experiences within the field and what our jobs were. After a few hours in the office, I felt like a professional, and many employees commented how they were impressed with my abilities. Without a doubt, one feels appreciated at this job, regardless of what specific help you give. Service jobs, such as working with the Alzheimer’s Association, are very rewarding, as you are using your skills to help out in any way you can (even if they are indirectly assisting the cause). Everyone here has a big heart and a strong work ethic, which makes me very happy. I am very grateful to be able to spend time with such wonderful people while getting unparalleled experience.
More than midway through my internship, I have had a lot of great experiences to share. Due to the fact that I can work more than double the hours of other unpaid interns, I have taken on more responsibilities and projects in the office. At first, I contacted businesses about prizes and donations for our Memory Walk and team week, but then my responsibilities expanded and became more complicated (in a good way). Memory Walk, the largest fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association, supports research, services that the Association provides, and general office operations. During Team Week (August 1-8), teams signed up for the Memory Walk who have raised a certain amount of money or increased their membership within a certain timeframe, are entered into a raffle to win the prizes I’ve allocated. I believe my knowledge of working in a professional sphere and knowing with whom to discuss certain requests has increased immensely. I’ve been able to better understand the structure of the business world and other offices.
Memory Walk Team Week is one of my big projects, but not the only one with which I’ve been entrusted. I have been dealing with the Blackbaud/Kintera system to manage our seven Memory Walk websites, sponsorship information, and send out mass HTML emails to our chapter. I took two training sessions from our national office to learn more about the systems, and with the new knowledge, I was able to make creative and useful sections of our sites. At work, I’ve learned to utilize many computer systems and programs, including Adobe Photoshop.
The great part about this office is the ability to work with many people who perform various jobs for the Alzheimer’s Association. I’ve learned a great deal about what jobs I like, what I don’t like, and aspects of these professions that intrigue me. (Example: I am not big on public relations and writing press releases.) My work is appreciated, and I am trusted enough to run my own event: The Alzheimer’s Association Pancake Breakfast on July 18th from 8am to 10am at the Pantops Applebees. To date, I’ve organized everything including ticket creation, advertising plans, event operation schedule, and more. There is so much to plan, even such minute details, but I must say that the experience is unparalleled. Without this grant, I couldn’t have learned as much as I have in a summer.
My time at the Alzheimer's Association has truly been enriching in many ways in my life. I have had the pleasure of working with a group of dedicated, passionate individuals who appreciate all the help they receive and do not take it for granted. Through my internship, I was able to learn more about the functions of the Alzheimer's Association and have my own way of assisting people in need. In the office, I was in charge of many different projects that would not have been assigned to me without the grant, as I had more hours than a typical intern. With the help of the more experienced full-time staff, I drafted and sent out mass emails to those participating (and those who had in the past) in the Memory Walks (for each of the seven walks). In addition, I managed the websites for the seven walks, helped add sponsors to the websites and databases, advertised for events, and much more. By the time my internship was complete, I was able to plan, organize, and execute an event, a Pancake Charity Breakfast at Applebees, to benefit the Association. I put forth lots of time and effort to ensure that everything ran smoothly, and I realized how difficult it was to attract participants and tested new and interesting ways to encourage people to come. Through this job, I was able to discover specific tasks/professions that interested me and that weren't alluring to me. Not to mention, I learned of new jobs that I didn't know existed before. In the future, I will be certain to always try to help out organizations such as the Alzheimer's Association, because they do so much good and get less help than they need/deserve! It was amazing to work with such a great organization!