After visiting Roswell Park Cancer Institute last year with Dr. Wanzer and the Association of Women and Men in Communication, I was really interested in the Alliance Foundation and Carly’s Club. I was passionate about their programming, and I was interested in the idea of working for a nonprofit organization. The members that we had an opportunity to meet really enjoyed their career, and were truly invested within their programming. When proposed with this assignment for conducting an informational interview of someone’s career that interested me, I found that interviewing a member of the Alliance Foundation was a perfect fit. The person I interviewed was Ms. Andrea Gregory. She is currently the Special Events Manager within the Alliance Foundation.
Upon meeting, Ms. Gregory I had realized that she was someone we had briefly met at the tour last year. It was interesting to be able to hear more about her career and job responsibilities. I believe that my current internship experience has given me more confidence, and comfort talking with superiors. I felt comfortable talking to Ms. Gregory, and comfortable asking her questions and giving my input. Being able to feel comfortable and confident in situations like these, I feel has given me more of an opportunity to learn and grow as a professional. This is something I’m grateful to have been able to experience.
The first question I asked Ms. Gregory was how she got to where she is today. Ms. Gregory had informed me that she too, had gone to Canisius. She was going for an undergraduate degree in Math Education, and then proceeded to get her Master’s in Sports Education at Canisius in which she accepted a Graduate Assistant postion. After graduating, she found a GA position with the Buffalo Bills in Marketing Communication. After working there, she found out that there were no opening career positions at the Buffalo Bills. Her supervisor helped connect her with Make-A-Wish for a potential position there. She received the position of Community Relations Manager and worked at Make-a-Wish for three and a half years. After working there, she felt she had hit a standstill and needed a change. Ms. Gregory knew she enjoyed working for nonprofits, and decided to go back to her supervisor at the Buffalo Bills to see if he knew any positions that were hiring. He connected her with the Alliance Foundation at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. In June of 2010, she was granted the position as a team member for the Ride for Roswell. She moved up to become what she is now, the Special Events Manager of the Alliance Foundation. Ms. Gregory emphasized the importance of networking in finding her positions along the way. She pressed how important it is to be open to meeting new people, and asking for support. She said without networking, she may have not have gotten to where she is today.
Talking with Ms. Gregory about her responsibilities as Special Events Manager, I began to realize a lot of similarities between my current internship. As an intern at the Independent Health Foundation that is too a nonprofit, it was interesting to discuss her experience in event planning and fundraising. She explained how much of a family her and her team become, and how they are constantly helping each other out on events even if it is not “theirs”. I see the same similarities in my internship office. As an event grows closer, everyone pitches in as if it is his or her own. The atmosphere she described within her office is something I feel as if I experience in my internship office too. Everyone is very passionate about their programming, and are very invested and excited about their work.
Ms. Gregory told me that the most difficult part of her job is feeling like there is not enough time. She said she feels like she could always do more, and time is against her. Once one event finishes, it’s onto planning the next, perhaps before the previous is even held. However, at the end of it all she enjoys seeing the end result. She enjoys seeing the happiness these events bring to both patients and families, and she even said “It’s amazing to see this event you put together, you did this, and it’s something that’s bigger than yourself”. As we were talking I could see her drive and passion for her career. She even explained that working in a nonprofit requires you to have a personal connection with your cause, something you are passionate about and want to wake up in the morning to do.
When I asked her what tips and tricks she had for people who would like to go into a nonprofit or event planning career in the future, she stressed the importance of a positive attitude. Ms. Gregory said it is important to roll with the punches, and accept that things may happen and you have to adjust to it and find a solution. You cannot get all worked up over the little things, but rather need to take things in stride, think on your toes, and remain cool, calm and collected in high-pressure situations.
Overall this interview experience was very beneficial and interesting. I really enjoyed talking to Ms. Gregory and learning about her personal passions within the business. I found her input very helpful, and something that I could learn from and use in my own career. Talking with Ms. Gregory has helped me realize my own personal passion for nonprofits and how much I truly enjoy working in this field. I find that through my current internship experience, and this interview, that event planning/fundraising, (specifically for nonprofits) is something I would enjoy a future in.