Features - Alum of the Month
New York Program
September 2009 Intake
What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
I majored in Ancient History and Archeology and minored in History of Art & Architecture at Trinity College Dublin. My initial degree had been business, but I realized after the first year that economics and statistics were not my passion. I decided to change to do something I would really enjoy versus something I thought would guarantee me a job!
What made you apply for the Mountbatten programme?
When I was 16, I had attended high school in New Jersey and thought I was on a real life episode of ‘Saved by the Bell’. I knew after that experience that I wanted to return to the US at some point in the future. When I applied to the Mountbatten programme, I had already been working in Ireland for 1 ½ years and remember wanting an adventure in a bigger city. New York seemed liked the perfect choice.
Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
I worked with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). I had already been working with a non-profit in Ireland so the move made sense. I was involved mostly in their special events department, helping with their fundraising galas and also their largest volunteer fundraising campaign, which raised over $3 million annually.
What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
The most important part of working with BCRF was seeing the difference in the philanthropy culture between the US and Ireland. Highlights included helping out at fundraisers where Elton John or Elizabeth Taylor were the guests! I also learned the importance of networking and building professional relationships. Every job I have had since my internship, I got through a personal contact and I expect that trend to continue into the future.
What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
There were many – I definitely embraced the concept of “brunch” which was not a thing in Ireland at the time. Ordering mimosas before 1pm on a Saturday was suddenly a norm as opposed to novelty back home and led to lots of fun afternoons. I explored more of New York the year of my internship than any other time since I’ve lived here. All the interns tried hard to get as much out of New York as possible.
Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship.
Despite the fact that all I dreamed of doing at the time was moving to New York, the initial few months were very hard for me. I was really homesick and found the lack of personal space difficult to adjust to. It’s tough to move apartment, friends, job and country, so definitely don’t worry if you feel a little out of your depth when you first arrive – it was an incredible year!
If you could change anything about your internship, what would it be?
I worked in a nonprofit in Dublin, so moving to a nonprofit in New York, I knew a little of what to expect. It would have been really interesting if we could have, once a month perhaps, shadowed another intern to see what working in finance, or fashion or advertising would have been like.
Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
I'm the Director of Sales for a software as a service company called 501 Auctions which helps nonprofits run more profitable fundraisers using technology. I was the fifth employee and originally worked out of our founder’s apartment. It’s been a huge learning experience to be part of the core team integral to the company’s growth. We’re now at 45 employees and 8 offices around the country! Though not for everyone, I’ve discovered that a working environment where more often than not, you have to create a new company policy instead of following one already in place, is an atmosphere where I thrive.
Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)?
My boyfriend Kyle and I moved in together a few months back and just submitted an application for a new apartment in the West Village so that’s the biggest thing occupying my mind at the moment! Career wise, I’m looking forward to continuing to be part of a fast growing technology company.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Determined, positive and good people skills!