Julianna DeSimone ’21 will join the non-profit Forest Foundation after graduation. Here she talks about the organization, her service experiences at Hamilton, and what drew her to the program.
What role will you take on at the Forest Foundation?
The Forest Foundation pairs college students interested in careers in public service with non-profit agencies in the Boston area. This full-time position is supplemented with professional development training days, during which I will learn about non-profit finance, social enterprise, civic engagement, public policy, and more. I will also gain experience in grant writing by receiving training and writing a proposal for a local non-profit agency.
While I don’t know yet what organization I’ll be working for, the program matches participants with their host agency based on their mission interest and skill set. I hope to work for an organization that addresses the intersection of poverty, immigration, and gender as these areas interest me. At my host site, besides assisting with general tasks, I’ll complete an independent project that serves the agency and develops my administrative and intellectual skills.
Majors: World Politics and French
Hometown: Mansfield, Mass.
High School: Bishop Feehan High School
What drew you to this particular opportunity?
I’ve known for several years that I want to have a career in the non-profit sector. The Forest Foundation appealed to me because of its immersive approach. Both my site placement and professional development training will teach me more about how to respond to the needs of a non-profit agency. This will allow me to further develop the hard skills necessary for a meaningful and successful career in this sector, as well as the soft skills such as leadership and critical thinking.
What Hamilton experiences helped prepare you?
My time as a COOP service intern (CSI) played the largest role in guiding my career path and preparing me for this program. I was given the opportunity to work for several years at the United Way of the Mohawk Valley where I gained insight into the ways non-profits respond to community needs. By working on projects addressing issues from food insecurity to homelessness, I discovered a passion for this type of work and learned strategies to implement programs and make them easily accessible to the community. This position also introduced me to two very influential people, Amy James of the COOP and Betty-Joan Beaudry of the United Way, who have taught, encouraged, and inspired me over the last four years.
My coursework at Hamilton has greatly prepared me for this experience. The classes I have taken across a variety of subjects have encouraged me to think critically about social issues. In particular, the women’s and gender studies and world politics courses at Hamilton have shaped my perceptions of power and inequality and motivated me to drive systems change through a career in the non-profit sector.
What aspects of your new position are you looking forward to the most?
I am most excited to continue to learn how I can best serve a non-profit organization, and by extension, my community. I enjoy the day-to-day environment of non-profit settings and developing my professional skills while also working toward a mission that I feel passionate about. I’m also excited to continue to make meaningful connections with like-minded people. The Forest Foundation program brings together non-profit agencies, experts in the field, and young people entering this sector to learn and work together for social change. I have been fortunate in my other professional and volunteer experiences to meet many inspiring people, and I am eager to continue to learn from people with a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
What advice would you give to students interested in entering this field?
Get involved with the COOP! Whether it’s tutoring with a [currently virtual] program or attending an alumni panel, you can learn about a career in this field, gain pertinent experience, and make meaningful memories and friendships.