Interning at Synergos: Shaydah Ghom

I would like to express my utmost gratitude for Mr. Brown's generous financial assistance in support of my international internship this summer. The Susan Casey Brown Fund, which is part of McGill International Experience Awards, allowed me to accept the internship offer at Synergos in New York City. It also alleviated much of the financial stress that students often experience when participating in an internship. With this award, I was able to focus my time at Synergos gaining meaningful and valuable professional experience, rather than worrying about my expenses.

Synergos is a global organization that aims to solve complex issues around the world by advancing bridging leadership, which builds trust and collective action. Synergos is able to achieve their mission primarily by working with global philanthropists and social investors, which together make up the Global Philanthropists Circle (GPC). The GPC was founded in 2001 by Peggy Dulany and her father, David Rockefeller; it is a community of over 300 philanthropists and social investors from more than 30 countries. The GPC is a network for community members to increase the impact of their philanthropy and to become more effective social investors through greater opportunities for learning and collaboration. Additionally, the GPC has five affinity groups: Shifting the Food System, Next Generation, Spiritual Civilization, Refugees and Migration, and Impact Investing, all of which enable GPC members to come together in order to collaborate around particular issues.

My internship at Synergos was an invaluable experience for me, as I was able to gain a much deeper understanding of how my studies at McGill can be applied in a work setting. It also allowed me to see how a global organization can maximize its effectiveness through partners across the world. Although my day-to-day tasks varied, based on priority, my main tasks included conducting research on prospective philanthropists, creating content for the GPC newsletter, and working on my long-term research project.

My long-term research project involved researching, analysing, and presenting findings to the GPC team following a question posed by the CEO: “What percent of our GPC members are check writers?” He wanted to know the level of involvement of philanthropists, both in terms of our work and their own initiatives. In order to answer this question, I interviewed Relationship Managers (RMs) from 6 of our global offices. Each RM is responsible for understanding where the members of their respective regions stand in their work and how it relates to Synergos’ work.

By interning at Synergos, I also wanted to learn about the different academic and career paths that my colleagues had taken that led them to work at Synergos. This, in turn, helped me better understand how my major (International Development Studies) might apply in a professional space. Through talking with colleagues, both from our New York office and our international offices, and also speaking in depth with the CEO about Synergos and its future, I was able to gain a much better insight into this matter.

One highlight of this internship was having the opportunity to attend the day-long United Nations 2019 ECOSOC Philanthropy x SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) meeting. By attending this event, I was able to see how organizations such as Synergos contribute to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. This day was both stood out not only because of the environment we were in, but also because of the truly impactful presenters who I heard during the day.

My time interning at Synergos presented me with a multitude of valuable opportunities that I was able to explore because of the network of experienced colleagues I was surrounded with. It also allowed me to grow both as a student, because Synergos’ mission relates to my academic studies, but also as a young adult, as I could explore future professional opportunities.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Susan Casey Brown Fund for McGill; receiving this financial assistance enabled me to get the most out of my internship. I, like many other McGill students, may not have been able to take advantage of the incredible opportunity of such an internship, if not for this award.

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