Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Power of Nonprofit Exposure

By Ana Almeyda-Cohen
Colgate University

Last week, a group of Colgate sophomores went to Washington, D.C. to visit different nonprofit organizations and learn about the nonprofit sector. The trip was not related to a course, a major, or a particular club or organization about nonprofits. It was just a group of Colgate students (with the assistance of the Office of Career Services) that wanted to learn more about the nonprofit sector and visit DC.

As a participant of the trip and a mere novice of the nonprofit sector, I did not know what to expect. Before the trip, I knew that the nonprofit sector consisted of charities and foundations that help people in many different ways. As a past scholar of a nonprofit, that works towards improving the education of under privileged students in New York City, I knew what kind of impact a nonprofit could have on the life of an individual.

While in DC, my perspective on the nonprofit sector completely changed. Some organizations were small and regional while others were big and international. During our visit we visited the Center for American Progress, Pew Charitable Trusts, American Institute for Research, the Brookings Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and the International Center for Research on Women, just to name a few. We met 35-year-old assistant researchers, 65-year-old presidents and CEOs, and everyone in between. We listened, asked questions, and engaged in great conversations about public policy, social welfare, and education. By the end of the week, we were exhausted but filled with an abundance of information and knowledge.

Last week, I thought I wanted to be a Spanish professor, now I want to be a Resident Scholar at a major Think Tank. Maybe I can do both. Maybe I can own my own nonprofit. The endless possibilities excite me.

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