Fundraiser Ana Toneato reflects on her time as a volunteer Intern at Westminster Befriend a Family.
At WBAF I learned a new career in six months.
Now I have started a great new job and have moved on but I was sad to leave this awesome team.
When I arrived at the office near Victoria Station, I did not know what to expect. Friends at university had told me about internships: you answer the phone, make coffee and don’t learn much. ‘It is all about having it on your CV.’
Well, I guess I was really lucky because for me it was totally different.
If it weren’t for my internship at WBAF, I would never have been able to find a job as quickly in a field I want to work in. I have no words to express how thankful I am.
When I went for an interview with fundraising manager, Jacqueline Crooks, I had no experience in either fundraising or project management and wasn’t sure which path I wanted to follow. She offered me a great opportunity: six mouths internship where I could gain experience in both fields.
In my first weeks I was already meeting the families the charity supports, liaising with the largest corporate funders and drafting bids. A month later, I started participating in training courses offered by the organisation, including Corporate Fundraising, Social Media, Leading and Managing a Project Team and many more. After 6 months, I had attended more than 12 training sessions.
Halfway through my internship, I got my first big project to manage. It was the Children’s Bedroom Makeover with British Land to improve the living conditions of the children we support. The results were astonishing and the families were thrilled with the results.
My last project was the Homework Support Sessions with Lloyds TSB. We offered summer support sessions in Mathematics and English for children aged 11-14 years old. It was such a success that they are already talking about organising a bigger project in the future.
To me, the best part of my time at the charity was the super friendly atmosphere and how the team ‘adopted’ me, patiently answering a million questions a day, as I developed my skills. I was trusted and given the chance to make a real difference