My name is Alejandra and I am the market research intern at Hubbub. I am a rising junior at Columbia University in the City of New York, studying economics and political science. I am in the London office for the summer as part of the Columbia Exploration Overseas (CEO) program. While here, I’ve been keeping a blog detailing my experiences at Hubbub and abroad in London. I figured I could share with the Hubbub community what I’ve learned and what I’ve done during my time here.
Being an intern is a lot of playing catchup. I am surrounded on a daily basis by people with vast experience in digital fundraising. While I knew very little about it when I first started, I’ve come to understand it in only the way an intern can. That means I’m still piecing some things together, but I get the bigger picture.
My first days as an intern
When I first met Jon, who you all know as the CEO of Hubbub, he was wearing a stay positive neutron t-shirt. It was my first day at work, and he had so many ideas of what I could help with. There were so many options and possible projects to choose from – settling on three so that I could finish them in my short 8 weeks here was very difficult. I chose to look into new markets, possible markets to expand into, and to train as a Customer Success person. From the get-go, I knew that working at Hubbub was going to be an experience I’d treasure forever.
When I first started, Jon told me that I was going to be spoiled by working at Hubbub. Though I am just an intern, I’ve had opportunities I don’t think many interns get. One of the highlights of my time here was having the chance to present to the whole Hubbub team.
My first presentation at Hubbub
It was interesting because I never expected to be in that position so quickly. I had only just gotten a grasp on how Hubbub worked before I had to present my research to everyone. I was looking at potential international markets that we could expand into. I had to justify why each market was viable and get a feel for the existing market.
Though I was looking at new markets, I needed to understand how Hubbub worked internally before I could make a judgment about whether or not we’d thrive in another market. Since each role plays a part in the business model and has different priorities when they approach new customers, I got to sit down with different team members to figure out how new markets work with our existing system. Once I understand where Hubbub stood in relation to each new market, I was ready to present. That was 3 weeks after I started working at Hubbub.
I’ll never forget Jon telling me that the hardest part wasn’t going to be the actual presentation; but rather, keeping everyone in the room focused on the presentation. What he meant was that, in a room of experts, everyone has something to add and something to question. I had to control the room but also allow for discussion, and though I pulled it off, I wonder how people who constantly present do it. I was worried I would forget something and had extensive notes to make sure I didn’t. Luckily, the presentation was useful to the team and I am anxious to see what comes out of my research in the future.
Other projects I’ve worked on
My other projects have been looking at the greater UK nonprofit market and the US higher education market. I’d like to think that as an outsider (and a student) I see certain aspects of digital fundraising differently. This enables me to ID markets, partners and competitors that the others might not be thinking of. But it also means that there are somethings I don’t really understand, no matter how much research I do. I’ve had to figure out how nonprofits operate here and abroad because there are minute differences that matter a lot.
As someone who didn’t grow up with this market, some of the assumptions that I make are completely off base, because they’re based on what I know about American nonprofits and how they operate. The team has great insight when I have any questions, but they’re also trying to figure out how to operate within these markets too. They’ve challenged me and let me come to some conclusions on my own.
Working on the American higher education market has been interesting because it’s given me an insight on how worldwide companies operate. The London office is five hours ahead of the Connecticut office, which means that meetings with the American team have to happen in our afternoon. There’s a smaller window of communication, and when I was trying to figure out how to best get in contact with Scott, I came to realize that working across two continents adds an extra dimension to any company. There are a lot more factors to take into account when planning and executing projects across both channels.
My first crowdfunding project
One of my final projects is using Hubbub.org to raise money for the Malala Fund. And though I am surrounded by fundraising experts, they’ve challenged me to figure it out myself. It’s kind of the way Creators have to figure out the best way to pitch their projects without having any background knowledge in crowdfunding. I hope I’m on the right track, because the Malala Fund is doing some great things and I want to support them as much as I can.
I’ve made memories here I know I’ll never forget – like placing 3rd in my bowling group, and then having that group place 3rd (out of three Hubbub teams). I’m apparently terrible at bowling in London. It’s amazing how much laughter there is in this office and how welcoming everyone is. Jon answers all my questions even when they’re slightly off topic because he’s a pretty cool boss who likes to have interesting conversations.
He encourages me to take on projects even if they’re not in my traditional job description because he wants me to grow. I’ve always been a more ‘jump into the water without touching it first’ person, so it’s pretty cool to have Jon suggest ideas and projects and be able to know that it’s because he believes I can do it.
It’s been fun to be an intern at Hubbub, and I can’t imagine spending my summer any other way.
Read more about Alejandra’s experience in London on her personal blog.