Interning at Synergos: Leina Gabra

I am writing this letter to thank Mr. Brown, as well as the Internship Offices Network, for the opportunity to participate in an international activity this summer. Over eight weeks, I completed an internship at Synergos, a global philanthropy organization based in New York City. This would not have been possible without this award, and I would like to express my deep appreciation for everything I was able to learn through this experience.

I participated in this activity not only because I wanted to learn more about working in the nonprofit sector, but because I wanted to challenge myself by working in a professional environment for the first time while also living independently. At Synergos, I was an intern for the Global Philanthropists Circle (GPC), a community of leading philanthropic families and social investors using their resources to tackle complex global issues. The GPC team facilitates collaboration between members, allowing them to become more effective and impactful social investors. My goals going into this internship were to understand what it is like to work in a professional environment in collaboration with others, learn more about the nonprofit and philanthropy sectors, and develop new skills. I think that I met all of these goals through this internship.

I had two long-term projects on top of short-term tasks that I completed as they arose. My first long-term project was to analyze the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the GPC’s learning journeys, which are trips that members take to learn more about the innovative philanthropic work that is done in international destinations. I then presented my findings to the global GPC team and gave my recommendations on possible improvements to the program. This allowed me to improve my data collection, public speaking, and collaboration skills. My second project was to analyze and report on the GPC’s social media accounts’ engagement, and give my recommendations on how to improve on this, as well. This was a valuable experience because I learned new skills – social media analysis and optimization – that will be valuable for my future career. I also researched and completed reports on prospective members of the GPC, edited reports, and did some administrative work. My academic background in political science and history was useful for my work at Synergos because I believe that my area of study has greatly improved my writing skills, and it also helped me grasp a better understanding of Synergos’ work and the social issues that it tackles.

One highlight from this experience was the opportunity to attend the 2019 UN ECOSOC meeting on Philanthropy and the Sustainable Development Goals. This meeting at the United Nations headquarters brought together leaders of philanthropy organizations from around the world, and learning about the innovative ways that philanthropy sector is working towards the SDGs was highly valuable and unforgettable. Another highlight was my presentation to the global GPC team on my analysis and recommendations for the Learning Journeys program. Colleagues in Hong Kong, Brazil, the UK, and the Czech Republic called in and listened to my presentation. I valued this moment because it was not only rewarding but allowed me to truly feel what it is like to be a part of a team in a professional environment in the nonprofit field.

Through this internship, I was able to spend two months living in New York City on my own. While the USA is not foreign to me as a native of Washington, D.C., New York was only somewhere I had visited a few times before this summer. Although New York is known for its steep cost of living, thanks to this award I was able to pay for necessities such as rent and groceries and spend my free time enjoying what New York has to offer.

My experience interning at Synergos in New York this summer was unforgettable and valuable in innumerable ways. Right now, I do not think that I want to pursue a career in nonprofit and philanthropy work but the skills and experiences I gained this summer are sure to benefit me as I move forward in my academic and professional careers. I found out who I am as a professional and learned more about my passions, and in this way, this internship allowed me to achieve greater clarity on who I am and what I want to do in the future. None of this would have been possible with the Internship Office Network and the generous award I received from Mr. Brown; again, I would like to express my immense gratitude for the opportunity.

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