“So what did you do this summer?”
I worked as a street canvasser. Now before you make your assumptions about street canvassing being ‘easy’, ‘boring’, or ‘miserable’, give me a couple of minutes to tell you why those assumptions are false.
This summer, I worked for DialogueDirect, a fundraising company based in Washington DC. During my 10-week internship, working as a face-to-face street fundraiser, I signed up over 70 donors to sponsor children and/or animals, equating to over $3500 raised independently for Save the Children, ChildFund International and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Well, I joined the team unsure of what the summer experience would unfold to be. I had fundraised before by organising events and worked in outreach marketing for a couple of years, but street canvassing was completely new. Within my first few days I recognised three things; Firstly, how challenging this job was going to be, I came home exhausted daily both physically and mentally, and yet, secondly, I discovered that as long as I kept pushing I could do it. The dopaminergic rush that came with succeeding at something challenging kept me wanting to push, and learn, and grow. Lastly, I recognised how fun this job had the potential to be, and how that was entirely within my control. This job is the epitome of what you make it. If you work hard and strive to learn, you’ll enjoy it and succeed. So I did just that. I started learning, striving to improve, growing, and most importantly, having as much fun as I physically could. Before I knew it I was exceeding the weekly quota and was promoted to Site Representative within my first 4 weeks at the internship. This meant I was able to lead and train my own team, attend travel trips to other country offices such as Boston to help train other colleagues, and shift my focus from personal to team success.
DialogueDirect talks about maintaining three core values; Community, Integrity, and Opportunity. I found these values to be upheld and projected throughout the office.
Regarding Community, our team of incredible people brought so much joy and life to my summer. These people, who truly care about what they do so much that it is amplified in their efforts at work, have filled my life with happiness and will forever treasure as close friends of mine.
Regarding Integrity, I learned how important it is to be true to who I am as a person because by being genuine, being true to what you stand for, so much so, that you are willing to turn that passion into action and not let anything deter you from that because at the end of the day it’s an aspect of you. Working outside on the streets every day definitely isn’t the easiest job. Far, far from it. Come torrential rain, exhausting heat, continuous rejection, sometimes even harassment… We were out there fundraising daily amidst adversity. We fought against it all because we believed in what we were doing. We’d just remember why we were doing it; to save kids, animals and the environment. We were out there because it was important to be and because we were the ones who got to create a direct impact on a daily basis.
Regarding Opportunity, working at DialogueDirect has developed and advanced many new skills; leadership, working through adversity, confidence, responsibility, assertiveness, determination, public speaking, and being comfortable with the uncomfortable. We were given the daily opportunity to overcome challenges and push to be better, not only as fundraisers, yet also as human beings. We were rewarded with the unexpectedly unbelievably kind people whom I’d meet on the streets and the sheer fact we’d get to come in each morning and celebrate the number of lives we’d saved the day before. These are all skills and moments that I will take with me not only throughout the development of my career but also through the development of my life.
Working at DialogueDirect has been one of the most incredible, positive and rewarding work experiences that I’ve had. Thank you for the skills we’ve developed, the friends we’ve made and the lives we saved. I’m so grateful to have been part of this team.