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Despite yesterday being the first official day of summer, this week already marks the halfway point of my internship. The thought of only having 5 more full weeks here to accomplish everything I want to, and learn as much as possible, is somewhat daunting. However, looking back at my previous 5 weeks I realize just how far I’ve come in that time. I have a significantly deeper understanding of community foundations, I’ve found my footing on the projects I’m working on, and I honestly could not be happier with the office, staff, and general work environment at Triangle Community Foundation.

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I’m spending a lot of time with data and Excel this week – so much so that it’s causing me to make terrible puns. Right now my fellowship is being consumed by the overwhelming responses we’ve received to the survey I sent out to donors and community leaders. The survey is intended to capture demographic information, communication preferences, and input on future educational events. Of the 500 or so individuals that received the survey, close to 25% have already submitted responses and it will remain open for another week! Considering that most external surveys only get about a 10-15% response rate, this was great news for the Foundation and has given us a lot of meaningful information to sort through.

However, this of course means that I’m currently drowning in data. More data than I thought I was going to have to sort through, and more rolling in every day. But thankfully, I’m not afraid of numbers and the past year in the MPA program, as well as working as a Research Assistant in the SOG, has turned excel from my enemy into a friend (or at least a friendly acquaintance that I’m still trying to get to know a little better). Frequency tables, data visualization, and p-values are consuming my working hours. BUT – I’m kind of loving it a lot more than I thought I would. There’s something incredibly satisfying about developing a survey, sending it out (and crossing your fingers for some responses), receiving more responses than you thought likely, and then turning that raw data into something meaningful that can positively influence future decisions.

I’ll be spending the next week trying to make sense of all this data – finding trends, creating graphs and charts, and figuring out how to effectively communicate the results with other staff members. Wish me luck!

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