Well I hate to say it, but I only have one more week of work with JDRF. Boy did the last six weeks go by quickly! I know I already posted earlier this week about what it was like working during the CEO transition, but I thought I would post one again at the end of my sixth week at JDRF to reflect on my time here and what I hope to do in the week I have remaining.
This week was a busy one. It began on Monday with the hectic, abrupt transition from Jeffrey Brewer to Derek Rapp as President & CEO. The communications department was a little crazy that day, but by the end of it, we had done our job of communicating and monitoring the audience’s reaction, and I’d say it was a job well done!
Throughout the rest of this week I have been working on compiling lists of donors and fundraisers who have given $50,000 or more in the last fiscal year. This includes Gala donors, Walk captains, Riders, major givers, etc. I’ve been compiling all these various lists into one comprehensive spreadsheet organized by Donor Relations Officer (DRO) so we can have the DROs cross-check and make sure we didn’t miss any major donors. After THAT we will use this list to send out research progress reports to keep our donors informed about how their dollars are being put to use and how JDRF’s research is making progress toward turning type one to type none. It’s honestly been a bit of a crazy process. Pulling all these lists from different people has required a lot of back-and-forth emailing and waiting and following up and waiting again. And then once I get the lists from people, I realize that almost every one of the lists is formatted differently, so it’s required me to do a lot of experimenting on Excel to figure out the best layout to include all the correct information.
The other main project I’ve been helping with this week is updating the Research Information Volunteer (RIV) roster. JDRF chapters have RIVs in order to help communicate research news to chapter members and keep them informed. RIVs participate in monthly Webinars, receive email updates, and other training in order to keep up-to-date on the latest JDRF research. Paige needs to orient and train new RIVs, so I have been contacting every chapter to confirm the RIV we have for them on file and ask if they have any new RIVs that we should know of. Again, a LOT of emailing back and forth. My inbox has been quite full this week!
On Thursday there was all staff meeting with Derek Rapp. Thursday was Derek’s first day in the office after being on vacation with his family. The 40-minute meeting comprised of his introduction, speech, and a Q&A session for all staff. I can’t tell you how valuable it feels to be at JDRF at such an important time. Derek seems like he will do a great job as the head of JDRF, and I can’t wait to see how research continues to progress after Jeffrey’s leadership.
Cool side note: Derek gave a special shout-out to the Communications department in his speech, thanking us for doing a great job handling such an abrupt transition. Even though he probably has no idea I’m part of the Communications department this summer, it felt AWESOME to be recognized!
After the meeting, Hannah, Jenni, and I left work early to go meet up with Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999 and founder of Students with Diabetes, the wonderful organization that gave us these internship opportunities! It was so wonderful to see her again after being apart since the SWD Conference in June. Nicole is in town for an International Board of Directors meeting. We met her at Double Tree, where she was staying just a street over from JDRF.
We spent time discussing our internship experiences, what they’ve taught us, and how they’ve impacted our potential career choices in the future. We also had the opportunity to meet John Brady (Chairman of the Board) and Dick Allen (former Chairman of the Board).
Having the opportunity to sit down and chat with Nicole provided some great reflection time and discussion. After only six weeks with JDRF in NYC, I have learned SO so much. Here are some of my reflections/thoughts/learnings from my internship experience so far:
- I really enjoy communications work. As a Community & Public Health Promotion major, I have always had in the back of my mind the goal of becoming a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). Even if I wasn’t a CDE, I would still want to be involved in diabetes education in some way or another. Working with JDRF this summer has shown me a lot of different types of work, though. I enjoy monitoring media. I enjoy reading and writing diabetes blog posts. I enjoy crafting emails and updating messaging. I enjoy organizing. I’ve discovered that there are many things I enjoy! Thanks to the experience I’ve had this summer, I am currently thinking of pursuing a graduate degree in Health Communications. Whether for a diabetes company or not, I love being a part of a communications department and the work they do to communicate an organization’s mission and keep the staff organized and informed 24/7.
- I want to continue blogging. Thank you, Nicole, for encouraging all of us interns to keep blogs about our experiences!! That encouragement combined with the exposure to the diabetes online community (DOC) I’ve gained this summer through T1D in the News has really convinced me to continue blogging, specifically about living with type 1 diabetes (T1D). The DOC is amazing. I want to continue to be a part of it and contribute to the discussions, encouragement, and support it provides so many.
- There are more ways to be involved with JDRF than just participating in the Walk. I have been a Walk Team Captain for the past two years and am registered again for the Cleveland Walk to Cure Diabetes this fall. After being with JDRF this summer, I have been exposed to so many parts of JDRF that I didn’t know existed! For example, the T1D Voices Council. Or advocacy in general. Or the Ride to Cure Diabetes. Or becoming a Research Information Volunteer. There are so many ways to be involved with JDRF and stay involved, even if don’t end up being employed by them in the future. There are so many ways to help them turn type one to type none!!!
- JDRF’s research is amazing and is providing real hope for a future with no T1D. Seriously. Encapsulation? Artificial Pancreas? Yes please!!
- I have gained so many skills, connections, and experiences. From learning new acronyms like DRO, RIV, ODST, ED, and so many more to helping to manage the communications side of the CEO transition, I have gained so much experience!!! I have continued to improve my writing skills, my communication skills, my time management, organization, and priority skills, and much more. And on top of that, I have met some really great people! Nicole Johnson, Jeffrey Brewer, and the entire Communications department. It feels great to have such strong connections to JDRF!
- T1D friends are the bomb-diggity. Have I mentioned how amazing it is to have people in your life who know what it’s like to really live with T1D? Because it’s fantastic. Here are a few examples:
- Kady keeps a drawer of low snacks in her desk. On days that I exhausted my glucose tabs or fruit snacks? I could sneak over and use some of hers!
- Having a roller coaster of a day with my blood sugars? There are four. other. people. in the office who know exactly what that feels like. Not only do they know what it feels like, but they tell me it’s ok to come in a little late to work if my numbers are high and making me feel sick in the morning. (It happens once or twice).
- Had a crazy night with no sleep because of low blood sugars? Guess what? So did my friend! And we can rant together about how frustrating it is to not wake up to our CGM alarms!
- They get it. They get how frustrating it is that no one else completely 100% understands living with T1D. They understand the strange low symptoms that sometimes you can’t describe with words (Remember, Jenni? When we rejoiced over realizing we both fell that strange tingly feeling on our tongues when we’re low? No one has ever understood that!). They understand the exhaustion that comes with a roller coaster day. They understand the need to “unplug” from the CGM for a few days. They just understand 🙂
- Never be afraid of a new experience. I was really nervous to live in NYC by myself all summer. I was really nervous to work in the NYC headquarters of a company that is on the forefront of T1D research. I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t know if I’d be a success or failure or something in between. It turns out it didn’t matter what I thought. This summer was nothing like I expected! I learned so much, dealt with loneliness and exploring a big new city, gained professional and personal experience in the diabetes world, and became a stronger, more well-rounded person because of it. Never be afraid of a new experience, because you never know. It might be better than you expected!
As you can tell, I have loved my summer internship experience with JDRF, thanks to Students with Diabetes. Although I am extremely homesick and cannot WAIT to spend seven days at home before going back to school (oh gosh. School. I hardly got a break!), I am also a little sad to leave the JDRF office. It feels like I just got settled! But I am excited to come home and take what I’ve learned and integrate it into my life at home.
Looking ahead, I am very excited for this weekend and next week. Tomorrow, Hannah, Jenni, and I are going to a free showing of The Hunger Games on Roosevelt Island together. I’m really excited! Then next week I am going to see Ingrid Michaelson at Summer Stage in Central Park with my dear friend, Alana, who lives on Long Island. And THEN my parents are coming to get me! They’re going to take me, Paige, and Kady to lunch on Friday, my last day, and then I will show them around the office at the end of the day. The office is even throwing a “Goodbye Amy” party, complete with cheesecake, my favorite!
I feel very fortunate to have spent a summer in this city and with this company. I wouldn’t trade it!