Monday, April 5, 2010

MS Society Internship

By Mariska Roodenrijs (SMBA '11)

I have been doing an internship for the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society since February. This internship is through the Entrepreneurial Management Center (EMC) at SDSU, a center that stimulates entrepreneurship, holds business plan competitions and coordinates internships for MBA students. The kick-off of this internship was with a breakfast at the EMC in February where we met up with all the other interns and Directors of the non-profit organizations involved. The challenge with non-profit organizations is the limitations in resources they have, which comes with the advantage for interns that there is a lot of opportunity to actually make a difference, work independently, and be creative.

Before my interview for this internship in February, I wasn’t sure if it would match with my interests. I got really enthusiastic during the interview because the internship is marketing related, which matches up with my marketing degree and work experience. In addition, the MS Society organizes annual fundraising sport events in Southern California with thousands of participants including a bike ride, walks, a challenge walk, and golf tournaments. Plus, a lot of major sponsors are sports related since they have an affiliation with the cause and, therefore, join the movement in the efforts toward a world free of MS. Upcoming events are the MS Walk, where thousands of participants walk in three areas in Southern California with the goal to raise $2 million dollars for the MS Society. On May 3rd, we have the MS Golf Invitational coming up at the La Jolla Country Club; a more exclusive event for 100+ participants with a golf tournament, dinner, and auction. Coach Norv Turner from the San Diego Chargers is a very active committee member for this event and, therefore, most of the SD Chargers will participate in this tournament along with other business people.

My project is to develop the strategic marketing for the MS Society Pacific South Coast Chapter. The Pacific South Coast Chapter works to improve the quality of life for the 45,500 people affected by MS in Orange, San Diego, and Imperial counties. This Chapter of the MS Society is very professional for a non-profit organization and is relatively far when it comes to utilizing the Internet. They recently started using social media, and it’s high on the agenda to integrate this more into their overall strategy. Part of my plan focuses on a social media strategy, cross promotion and connecting people living with MS. The MS Society does a lot more than organizing events: they advocate rights, offer programs and services for people with MS (from education to counseling) and have an extensive volunteer department with flexible options for people to help them out. I am glad to be a part of this Chapter (located in Carlsbad) and I have learned a lot so far. It has been challenging sometimes to intern for two days in addition to school, group projects, communication with my family and friends at home and other activities, but it has been more than worth it.

A bonus is that, as an EMC intern, I also get the opportunity to volunteer at EMC events, such as the annual Venture Business Plan competition or the monthly San Diego Venture Group breakfasts where EMC interns are partnered up with a mentor, who introduces you to other attendees; a great way to get a glance of other industries in the area and to network. Join the movement

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