Fairmount InSights

We’re fortunate at Fairmount to have such a wide-skilled range of team members contributing to our work. Among them, our graduate-level Research Assistants provide essential research support that informs the recommendations our project consulting teams develop for clients. At the office on any given day around their studies, you’ll find Abigail Dym (University of Pennsylvania, MPA, Fels Institute of Government/MSEd, Graduate School of Education, Class of 2018); Peter Kramer (University of Pennslyvania, MPA, Fels Institute of Government, Class of 2019) and Angie Wang (University of Pennsylvania, Masters of Behavioral and Decision Sciences, May 2018) drawing on their data and analytical skills to benefit a host of planning and fundraising projects.

FV: What drew you to working at Fairmount as you pursue an advanced degree?

AD:  After an incredibly positive experience supporting Fairmount on a project during a summer internship, I discovered a new interest in public sector consulting and wanted to learn more about trends in the finance of public services and public goods. When the opportunity arose to continue my work with Fairmount as a Research Assistant, I jumped at the chance. I really appreciate the intellectual and supportive working environment at Fairmount, where I have been able to develop my skills as a researcher and apply my background knowledge as an educator to inform my work. This experience has provided me with an incredible opportunity to grow more familiar with the philanthropic and nonprofit landscape in Philadelphia.

PK: Working at Fairmount gives me the opportunity to see a side of the social sector that I haven’t yet had much exposure to. I’ve worked in nonprofits before, mostly doing direct service, and I spend a lot of class time talking about government services, but nonprofit consulting was still a little bit of a mystery. By working here, I’m able to see behind the curtain and explore a new side of the industry that might make for an interesting career path. I was also particularly drawn to Fairmount by the staff and the sense of mission. It’s great to be surrounded by people who care so deeply about Philadelphia and the work our clients do for the people here.

AW:  Prior to Fairmount, I’ve worked primarily in corporate settings in the private sector. A class I took last semester exposed me to some of the amazing work Philadelphia’s nonprofits are doing for the community and piqued my interest. Working at Fairmount has been a perfect way for me to try something new before I graduate, and I’ve been able to not only work on impactful projects but also learn more about Philadelphia’s nonprofit sector.

FV: How do your personal, academic, and professional experiences inform your work in support of Fairmount’s projects?

AD:  Prior to attending graduate school, driven by my interest in how communities organize and seek resources to improve learning opportunities for residents, I worked in education as a classroom teacher and AmeriCorps volunteer. I have focused my graduate studies on higher education finance, research methods, and the politics and philosophy of education, all of which continue to provide a relevant content and skill foundation to inform my work at Fairmount.

PK: I’ve been doing a lot of donor research, and my professional and personal experiences have helped me to find patterns as to where people give. One of the first things a mentor of mine explained to me was that giving is personal. You have to connect with your donors, and, to some extent, rely on them to spread your mission to their peers. As I do my donor research, I try to look for connections between agencies and donors beyond just looking for places that have a similar mission, and try to find communities of donors that give to the same places.

 AW:  My prior corporate experiences have provided me with transferrable skills like project management, prioritization, and presenting deliverables in a client-friendly way that I have been able to apply to my work at Fairmount.

 FV: What are some of your favorite Philadelphia extracurricular activities?

AD:  My partner and I love the Philadelphia Art Museum on Friday nights for live music and we try to go hiking in the Wissahickon as much as possible. I am also a big fan of the many amazing restaurants in the city!

PK: I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by just how much there is to do here! There’s concerts, outdoor events, great food and culture. Personally, I love walking, running, or biking along the Schuylkill trail, checking out some of the socially-conscious thrift stores, and occasionally enjoying the local music scene. I’m also on a mission to find every dollar-taco special in the city and always happy for recommendations!

AW: Dogspotting in Rittenhouse Square and exploring coffee shops around the city.

Are you – or do you know – a grad student whose experience and interests might be a fit with our team? Fairmount is reviewing applications and interviewing potential Research Assistants on a rolling basis. Learn more on our Careers page.

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