Each summer Philanthropy Ireland (PI) offers an intern placement to a student interested in working in the not-for-profit sector. This year we welcomed University of Virginia student Lauren Pitkin as our Policy and Events Intern. Here Lauren reflects on her experience with PI and her time in Ireland.

My name is Lauren Pitkin. I am student at the University of Virginia (UVA), with a plan to double major in Public Policy and Spanish. Over the past two months, I have been interning with Philanthropy Ireland, which has been one of the best experiences of my life. I signed up for a program at UVA which places you with an internship in Ireland, and I could not have been happier with the outcome.

On my first day, I was nervous about starting to intern at a new place in a completely different country, but as soon as I stepped into the office, Thelma and Éilis made it clear that I was welcome into the PI family with open arms.

Over the summer, I have been assigned many different tasks, which I really enjoyed because it kept my internship interesting. I always had something new to focus on, allowing me to expand my horizons and constantly be learning new things. Some of these tasks were smaller, including making phone calls to members, editing spreadsheets, or sending out mail merges. While these smaller tasks taught me about day-to-day work life, PI also assigned me with larger, overarching tasks. This included writing a philanthropy policy manifesto, as well as planning and researching the 2019 Donor Symposium.

On July 10, PI hosted a research launch, on a study which looked at The Impact of the 2013 Tax Change in the Treatment of Charitable Donations. I had the privilege to assist in planning, hosting, and was able to attend the event. Through this event, I was able to meet many members, as well as members of parliament. The research launch also gave me the opportunity really understand the work PI is doing. From the perspective of an intern specifically interested in policy, I felt that not only attending, but planning and preparing for the research launch was the best experience I could have asked for. Thelma and Éilis trusted me with tasks surrounding the launch, treating me not like an intern, but like a fellow employee, or an equal. They allowed me to take projects in my own direction. They let me know it was okay to be confused and to ask questions. Most of all, they made my experience in Ireland better than I ever could have imagined.

Going Forward
Working at PI has taught me a lot about what career direction I want to go in. I came into PI thinking I wanted to major in Public Policy and attend law school after obtaining my undergraduate degree. However, after this summer, I am starting to think I may want to stay in the area of policy. I found working alongside the government and researching policy to be impactful, as well as extremely interesting. The fact that I enjoyed the work I was doing at PI so much showed me that this is a route I would be interested in taking for my career. I have learned so much about policy in general but learning about policy in a different country was even more interesting to me. This has made me realise that I would like to have a career in International Policy, whether it be in the legislative field or otherwise.

Throughout my time at as an intern, I not only learned about working environments and careers, but I have learned about culture and, most importantly, I have learned about myself. As cliché as it sounds, I feel that my time in Ireland and my time at PI have allowed me to get to know myself better.

I would like to say a final thank you to Thelma and Éilis, and would like to extend a thank you to those in the PI community with whom I have engaged with throughout my time in Ireland. This was truly a summer I will never forget.