Undergraduate students in philanthropic studies have opportunities to participate in student life on campus: joining clubs, including the Philanthropy Ambassadors Club, participating in IUPUI’s Regatta, competing in student competitions for scholarships, and more.
But what do they do in class?
It’s not just thinking about philanthropy.
Early on in their philanthropic major journeys, undergraduate students learn how they can work towards a career in the nonprofit sector.*
Students in Patricia Snell Herzog’s, Ph.D., introductory class this semester participate in site visits to local nonprofits to learn about the organizations and their staff, how staff members earned a career in the sector, and how students can use their philanthropic studies degrees in the workplace.
“Meeting with philanthropic leaders out in the field is a valuable learning experience for any student wanting to work in this sector, especially early on in their career path in order to gain familiarity with the diverse options available for positions that contribute to the philanthropic sector,” Snell Herzog said.
In the first site visit this semester, students went to Second Helpings, a nonprofit tackling issues of food waste and hunger relief, while also providing culinary job training to unemployed and underemployed adults. The organization creates over 4,000 hot, nutritious meals every day and sends them to over 90 partner social service agencies. In addition, the job training program has trained over 800 adults who now work in Central Indiana as cooks, executive chefs, business owners, and culinary instructors.
During the visit, students took a tour of the organization to learn about its three programmatic areas, and discovered the importance of volunteer labor for the nonprofit. With staff guidance, volunteers create the meals, deliver the meals to the agencies, and provide professional development experiences to the job training students. The organization relies on over 700 volunteers to fight hunger and food waste.
Students also had the opportunity to engage with staff members and ask them questions about their paths to working in their current capacities.
“The students were so engaged during their time at Second Helpings. They asked great questions about the inner-workings of what it’s like to work in a nonprofit as a fundraiser,” said Katie Prine, Senior Director of Philanthropy at Second Helpings.
“I think it’s critical for students to visit organizations and gain a better understanding of what life may be like once they graduate. The nonprofit sector is vast, and any exercise that brings clarity and helps narrow their focus is extremely important,” Prine added.
Snell Herzog hopes that the visits act as a way to link the classroom readings and discussions, which often entail needed abstract thinking, to the more concrete and practical aspects of working or volunteering in the sector.
She asks students to reflect on each visit, tying in what they’ve learned in class to the experiences they have and knowledge they’ve gained at each organization.
What did they think of Second Helpings?
“While on our visit to Second Helpings, it was interesting to me to see the amount of different backgrounds of the people we met and how they got to be where they are today. I learned that networks are very important, to not get discouraged if applying for a job doesn’t work out the first time, and that I need to find a mentor to help me and guide me. I also know now that I need to continue being involved in my community.” –Molly Grimm, sophomore philanthropic studies major
“All of them (the staff) took both their positive and negative experiences as opportunities to improve in their current jobs. Because of this, I learned that all experience can help me excel in my career and hopefully learn to enjoy it.” –Liz Foster, freshman marketing major with a minor in philanthropic studies
“From listening to the individuals we met today, I learned that you don’t have to have a specific interest to help in the nonprofit sector. There was a wide range of backgrounds and careers on the Board of Directors and it makes me feel better about not knowing exactly what I want to do. I can start somewhere and end up somewhere completely different and end up loving it.” –Baylee Kasprzak, freshman philanthropic studies major
We’ll be sharing more of these reflections throughout this semester as these students learn more about the nonprofit sector and visit nonprofits throughout Indianapolis that make a difference every day.
*In other philanthropic studies courses, students have the opportunity to conduct psychological research at the zoo, award a grant to a local nonprofit organization, coordinate a campaign to raise money for local nonprofits for Giving Tuesday, or write a grant proposal.
Do you have any advice for these students as they pursue their passion? Leave a comment below!