Where are you working and what do you do there?
I am currently employed by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, my position title is Director of Annual Giving. I do a lot of fundraising for the university by reaching out to alumni and friends who make “annual gifts.” Unlike the Major Gift Officers within the Foundation office, I deal with people who give gifts between $5.00-$1,000.00. I am also in charge of managing the Telefund Call Center, which consists of about 50 current students who call alumni to build relationships and solicit gifts. Additionally, I am responsible for reaching out to current students to create awareness of the importance of giving back to and supporting UW-Eau Claire after graduation.
What is your typical work day like?
No day is the same here at the Foundation office. I arrive to work and do my “morning routine” which consists of reviewing pledges and comments from Telefund the night before. I work with Foundation staff to make sure that pledge data is transferred accurately and correctly to our alumni data base. I contact any alumni or prospects who have questions, concerns, etc. that were brought to our attention the night before at Telefund. I spend a great deal of time researching new fundraising and outreach tactics, and also working with the Alumni Office to plan events and initiatives. I prepare for the night of calling at Telefund and head over to the call center, which is in Schneider Hall. I try my hardest to be in the call center each night for at least an hour!
What path did you take to your current career, were there other jobs along the way?
When I began my college career, I never would have imagined that I would be working in the fundraising industry. I spent 3 semesters as a volunteer therapist at the Campus Autism Program and also 3 years as a Research Assistant in the Choice Lab working with live pigeons, and I was pretty set on going to grad school and working with children with autism for a career. I began working as a Telefund Caller as a Sophomore and loved speaking with alumni and raising money for the university. During my last semester of classes, I was hired full time as a Limited Term Employee to manage the Telefund call center after the previous manager left. From there, I was hired as the Director of Annual Giving. I am now dedicated to continuing a career in the non-profit/fundraising industry. As a recent graduate, I did not have many significant jobs along the way. My position as a Telefund Caller definitely led me to where I am today!
How did your liberal arts education at UW-Eau Claire help prepare you for your career?
The liberal arts education I received at UW-Eau Claire has allowed me to get where I am today. I had so many great experiences as an undergraduate, ranging from studying abroad to providing intensive therapy for children with autism. When I entered college, I was set on pursuing a career as a Psychotherapist, but the variety of classes that I was required to take provided me a wide variety of knowledge and experiences that have allowed me to become a successful fundraiser without any “official” fundraising training.
Is there something more you wish you would have done in college to prepare for your career?
Honestly, no. I feel like I really made the best out of my time as a student. I worked at a job that not only allowed me to give back to the university that provided me with so many great opportunities, but also that allowed me to gain some experience working in the non-profit sector. Although I chose not to pursue a career working with children with autism, I value my time at the Campus Autism Program and learned a lot from the experience. I had the opportunity to present research at professional conferences and I also spent a semester abroad in Spain. Overall, I think I acquired a well-rounded education and would not change a thing.
What advice do you have for UW-Eau Claire students to become successful in their own careers?
Take advantage of the opportunities that are made available to you as a student at UW-Eau Claire. Great opportunities will not just show up at your feet, you need to research your options and pursue them. I never would have gotten involved with the things I did if I had not used my professors as resources and pursued opportunities that I thought would give me valuable professional experience. After graduation, you will struggle to find a job if you did not go “above and beyond” during your college career. Do research with professors, volunteer, seek out internships, become a Teaching Assistant, and do what you need to do to gain job-related experience that will set you apart when you graduate!