UFO Rollercoaster: A Ride of Many Firsts

By: Chris Loney | Friday, March 28, 2014

My name is Derek Lin and I am a sophomore studying Sociology at Northeastern University. I have a passion for helping others, and when it came time for me to choose my first co-op I knew immediately that it was imperative from both a personal and professional standpoint that I got a job where I would be giving back to the community. That’s when I heard about uAspire from my co-op coordinator Lisa Worsh and applied for the position right away.

Time has flown by since my start in January! From my first day, the focus was preparation for something I call the “uAspire First One (UFO) Storm.” The uAspire First One Awards honors first generation college graduates who have essentially “made it”—they are the rags-to-riches stories for their families. These are inspirational individuals who have broken the mold, offering a life of opportunity for their lineage, community, and the countless lives they have touched.

It is now nearing the end of March and we weathered the (UFO) storm; the evening was a great success and everything ran incredibly smoothly. The First One Awards was my first experience working with a team that put an event together—a rather large fundraising event at that.

From the moment February hit, the office picked up pace as things needed to be done and the timeline was shrinking as the event neared. On my end, I had an array of assignments to be completed on an ongoing basis. Website management and upkeep tasks proved to be the most urgent while we were still a few weeks out from the event. In the process I have now re-familiarized myself with WordPress, CSS, and HTML. Playing with code is fun for me because it brings me back to my computer science classes in high school. Back then, my team created a website that won the Illinois Microsoft Bliink Web Design Competition. In the creation phase, we were regularly troubleshooting and immersing ourselves into lines of code, tying together loose ends in order to reach our end product—much like the effort that goes into creating an event, I have learned.

Aside from sifting through video interviews and documents for content to post online, we at uAspire were (and are) in the midst of hiring a new Massachusetts Director of Strategic Partnerships. Likewise with the event, this was my first time trying on a Human Resources hat in assisting with scheduling and communicating with interviewees. As any learning process goes, there were some bumps along the waymostly snow storms—but none that harmed or impaired the interviewing process. The ease with which the interviews were conducted and seamlessly completed is something I am proud of because this involved the most commitment, and there were high stakes ensuring we found the right candidate.

In addition to communicating externally, I handled the uAspire Twitter account leading up to, during, and after the event. I really enjoyed this project because I was informed prior to my time here that the account was not as active as they would have liked. It is imperative that the line of communication between an organization and its followers stays activeespecially in Boston. #uAspireFO winner Mayor Thomas Menino said it best: “[Boston is] both a big city and a small city… Everybody knows each other.” That is the wonderful thing about being active in the social media scene in Beantownthere are endless connections that have been made and will continue to be made among and between corporations and nonprofits. The icing on the cake was that Mayor Menino himself tweeted at uAspire!

Lastly, I was in charge of creating two PowerPoints to be showcased during the event. The first PowerPoint served as a wallpaper slideshow during the reception, and focused on brightening up the room and highlighting our mission, winners, donors, and auction items. The other PowerPoint was used during the actual program to complement the speakers. Working into the final week and days before the event, the PowerPoints were getting sent in all different directions and coming back to me edited by different people with different suggestions. As the content became more concrete with each edit, I was able to focus on the design aspect which only required a few minor tweaks until the slideshows were completely finalized.

As the event began, everything fell into place and everyone’s hard work truly paid off. The satisfaction from a successful event a year in the making expunged any anxiety, nerves, or pressure we felt in anticipation of the event. The exhilarating spirit trickled down from the leadership to staff and volunteers. Taking the success of the 2014 uAspire First One Awards in stride, now it is time to switch gears and prepare for next year’s First One event!

 


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