Sophia Smith-Gatto interned with the University of Arizona's Campus Pantry and developed skills in non-profit development and fundraising.
How did you get your internship?
My internship was with the University of Arizona's Campus Pantry, a nonprofit organization on campus that fights against food insecurity by providing supplemental groceries to anyone with a CatCard. I found the opportunity by searching for Handshake, the UA's internship and job database. After researching the position and organization, I knew that this job would be perfect for me. I started working on updating my resume and writing a cover letter to send in to the hiring team. After a few days, I got an email to schedule an interview - I was incredibly excited! I prepared for my interview and ultimately did well, as I received a phone call from the Program Coordinator offering me the job.
What kind of work did you do throughout your internship experience?
As the Development Chair for the Campus Pantry, one of my main responsibilities is organizing donation drives to ensure we have an ample supply of food in the Pantry for our users. This involves reaching out to both on-campus and off-campus organizations and building a relationship with them so that they want to continually host donation drives, like food drives and joint food/clothing drives. Another one of my main responsibilities is assisting my Program Coordinator and Graduate Assistants with fundraising and event planning, such as with the Pantry Pint Night and our Basic Needs Center Benefit Dinner. As Development Chair, I have also tried to expand our on- and off-campus partnerships, currently working with Blue Chip and the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona’s Girl Volunteer Corps.
The biggest project I have worked on this fall was our Pantry Pint Night fundraiser at MotoSonora Brewing Company. This was the first fundraiser that I had helped plan, so going into it, I was both incredibly excited for the opportunity and nervous about the possibility of failure. I worked very hard to make sure the event was marketed to both our on-campus and off-campus contacts, and established partnerships with on-campus groups to ensure increased attendance from the previous year. Ultimately, our Pantry Pint Night was a huge success, with an over 50% increase in ticket sales.
In addition to the big events that I manage, I am proud to report that through the Fall 2022 semester, I planned and executed 47 different donation drives. These donation drives were a mix of food drives, food/clothing drives, food/hygiene drives, and monetary drives. With all of my donation drives and other donations we have received, the Pantry has had over 12,000 pounds of food donated throughout the semester. I have worked incredibly hard to ensure that there have been constant donation drives throughout the semester, so it is very rewarding to see the results of my hard work and the dedication of the Pantry team.
How has your internship experience influenced your plans for your future?
Before going into my internship, I knew I wanted to work for a nonprofit organization after I graduate. This is, after all, why I chose to major in Applied Humanities with an emphasis in Public Health. However, I was not sure what capacity I wanted to work in at a nonprofit. I am interested in lots of aspects of nonprofits, so narrowing it down was difficult. After my experience completing my internship as the Development Chair for the UA Campus Pantry, I now know that I want to pursue a career in development at a nonprofit. I have had so much fun with fundraising and event planning throughout my experience, and I am excited to hopefully continue these passions in my career after I graduate.
How did your Applied Humanities major coursework help prepare you or give you unique insight for the internship experience?
My courses in my Applied Humanities degree have largely been teamwork based, which has greatly benefited me in my internship experience because these courses have helped me establish strong communication and collaboration skills. My courses have also taught me about the diverse backgrounds that we all have, which has allowed me to connect with others in my internship experience. Specifically, the PAH 383 "Pre-Internship: Building Career Readiness" course helped me develop my networking skills, which have come into play throughout my internship. This course also gave me invaluable experience in communication and critical thinking, which I have utilized throughout my internship experience.
What advice do you have for other students as they search for and begin their internship?
As you are searching for your internship, my biggest piece of advice would be to stay resilient, as we learned in the PAH 383 Pre Internship: Building Career Readiness course. Beyond just teaching me how to perfect my resumes and cover letters, this course impressed upon me the importance of resilience in searching for your internship. You will likely apply for many internships, hear back from some, and get interviews for a couple. It can be a challenging process, but remaining resilient will make sure you find your internship.
This also applies to beginning your internship - you are likely to encounter obstacles that you did not expect, so it is important to keep pushing through and persevere.