DIFFvelopment, Montclair, NJ
This summer, I had the opportunity to intern remotely with the non-profit DIFFvelopment along with 13 other interns from across the country with a shared interest in learning about entrepreneurship through culturally specific entrepreneurial and financial education. There was an education, consulting, and entrepreneurial component to the program which all served to re-empower people of African-descent, one student at a time.
As a member of the Development Team, my responsibilities included planning meetings, developing a cost-benefit analysis for each project to measure the pros and cons, conceptualizing two major fundraising events, developing a grants calendar detailing 30 funding opportunities, modifying the current tiered donor level system, exploring Salesforce to be used more efficiently, and creating a template for an industry-standard quarterly donor report. Utilizing online resources like Salesforce, Instrumentl, SurveyMonkey, and Canva to meet our deliverables, our team was able to organize donor information, automate processes, develop a template for the quarterly donor report, a survey to gauge donor engagement, and more. Through continuous discussion, research, and revision we presented our recommendations in the form of the report and a verbal presentation in our final week. As a result, I improved my teamwork, organizational, interpersonal, communication, planning, and presentation skills but most importantly my self-confidence.
For my specific business concept, I was assigned to Monique Greenwood who is the founder and CEO of Akwaaba, a luxury bed and breakfast company. In our bi-monthly meetings, Monique would review my business concept, help with edits, and practice for my final presentation. As my advisor and mentor, her words of wisdom and feedback made my business feel more and more real by the end of every conversation and this was especially empowering because I didn’t come into DIFFvelopment thinking of myself as an entrepreneur. It had always been in my understanding that to be an entrepreneur was to be this person with a clear vision and means to pursue and BAM! there’s a giant company. This internship helped change that perspective of myself and my abilities.
I believe the program is important because I learned my history. I learned the history of Black people, with other Black people by Black people. I now recognize the power that comes from knowledge of one’s own history. This summer has solidified my decision to pursue a concentration in Africana Studies because there is so much to learn and I refuse to let slavery be the extent of my learning. In my internship and thus far, in my Africana courses, I’ve learned so much Black history, cultural things, psychological things and really had the opportunity to critically think. I’m more interested in what it means to be Black than ever—being in such a pro-Black, 100% Black space for the first time, has truly been enlightening.
I would like to thank the Estate of James Kellogg and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for their support this transformative summer.