Building partnerships at a global NGO

Riley Thompson ’18 interns at Save the Children over winter break.

Riley Thompson ’18 interns at Save the Children

Supported by: The Blakely Fetridge Bundy ’66 Work and Learning Fellowship
Major: International relations and Hispanic studies

Ongoing internship: “I did research on international humanitarian aid and response non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and Save the Children is one of the largest in the world. I worked for the organization over the summer, worked remotely for them this past fall while at Wheaton, and most recently worked for them during winter break.”

Pursuing partnerships: “I worked on the strategic foundations partnership team, which handles fundraising from a foundation perspective. Save the Children works with foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Bezos Family Foundation. My role on this team started off as a researcher, determining if new partnerships with certain donors are viable, and what areas and programs they would most likely support. Now I have moved on to writing grant proposals.”

Seizing opportunities: “It’s important as an intern to pursue every opportunity presented to you, and to even seek out opportunities if they are hard to obtain. Making connections and networking are crucial. For example, I found out that Save the Children runs programs in Bhutan, the country where I studied abroad. I sought out and had coffee with the vice president of programs and the Bhutan liaison, and made a great connection. These individuals were able to give me career advice and even gave me a gift from Bhutan because they were thrilled that I had reached out to talk about my experience and to ask them questions.”

‘Room to grow’: “Prior to working for Save the Children, I had no experience writing grant proposals. Sometimes, the task can be daunting. There are people at Save the Children with master’s degrees in proposal writing, and at first I was nervous that my work wasn’t adequate and that I was creating more work for my boss. I learned that asking questions, especially on important projects, is integral to success. I also realized that I was hired because the staff were confident in my abilities, and asking questions didn’t mean that I wasn’t smart enough—it just meant that I had room to grow.”

Global classroom: “Since Save the Children is an international NGO, it is definitely a global classroom. We have individuals from Qatar, London and Dubai at the U.S. office, and a number of individuals who are abroad doing fieldwork. Because of this, I am very thankful for my study abroad experiences sophomore and junior year in Bhutan and Spain. Those opportunities helped me better understand and navigate a global office, since we do not work in a traditional U.S. office setting.”

See more winter internship stories