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Alumni Spotlight: Prospect research analysts

Posted September 2, 2016
Photo: Abigail Mann, Lindsay Rogillio and Hillary Hudson use their SLIS educations to support the university’s fundraising efforts.

In addition to holding MLIS degrees from the School of Library and Information Science, Lindsay Rogillio (2016), Abigail Mann (2011) and Hillary Hudson (2015) have something else in common: they work together at the university as prospect research analysts. The three specialize in gathering information so that USC’s fundraisers have everything they need to succeed.

What do you do in your current job?

Lindsay: I like to think of us as “information brokers”; essentially, as prospect research analysts, we’re providing university fundraisers (aka development officers) with information that can help them build a relationship with an individual or a company that hopefully leads to their making a gift to support the university, financially or otherwise. We gather the facts, the stats, and the data and make interpretations; we help to connect the various dots of information into something the development officers can work with. 

Abigail: I conduct research for the university’s fundraising staff. Our team utilizes the public record to research and write profiles on prospective donors to provide our fundraisers with a more well-rounded portrait of these individuals. We have also been making use of data analytics to proactively find new potential donors to the university. Additionally, I serve as the team’s international analyst and handle research on alumni, donors, and organizations abroad.

Hillary: My time is split between data management and research. I manage records in our database and check information for quality control as it is added to the system. The other half of my job is spent digging through public records and social media to create a detailed picture of a potential donor’s personal, financial, and professional background.

What’s the most interesting or significant thing you’ve done since graduating?

Lindsay: Land a job with health insurance! And while that’s significant, it isn’t very interesting. I have started an online Data Science Specialization, and it is both extremely challenging and intensely interesting. I’ve never broached this field of study before, so it challenges me every day. Going through the MLIS program put me on this path, incidentally. I began the program wanting to focus on archives and preservation; by the end I was more interested in digital collections and big data. So, to continue exploring big data, I found this data science specialization and dived in.

Abigail: This past July, another member of our team and I had the opportunity to give a conference presentation on a data analytics project we’ve been working on for the last two years. The conference included members of the prospect research community from around the world, and it was an exciting and humbling experience to receive feedback from peers at institutions in the UK and Canada.

Hillary: I feel boring saying this but finding a job that provides health insurance before my 26th birthday is the most significant goal I’ve reached since graduating. Job security and less financial stress has done wonders for my bank account and general happiness. I actually have the time to start investing in my hobbies again, like knitting and yoga. Also, the most interesting thing happening for me now is a trip to London I’ve planned with a friend to see the Harry Potter play, “The Cursed Child.” Even if I’m not working full time at a library, I’m still a bookworm at heart.

What are you passionate about in your work?

Lindsay: Connecting the dots, which is why I love what I do at work. I came to know myself as a “resource connector” while pursuing my MLIS – I realized I was always saying “Hey, have you talked to so-and-so at the State Library? They could help you with that question.” Or, “Have you tried this app/website? It may help you find what you’re looking for.” I love connecting friends and colleagues with others to grow their (and my) professional network, connecting online and textual resources with those who are seeking an answer to a question or problem, as well as using resources such as websites, apps, databases, and the knowledge of others to discover how and why certain information is related (or not). I hate not having an answer, so I work to uncover connections and interpret how that information may be useful.

Abigail: I started the SLIS program with an interest in archives and preservation – the idea of conserving the past for the benefit of the future – and that mindset carries over into the work I do for prospect research. I may not be cataloging a collection of rare books or curating works of art, but I’m still passionate about making sure that the data and information I collect receives the same attention to detail and is recorded in such a way as to be most beneficial for current and future members of our staff.

Hillary: The thrill of the hunt! I love searching through public records and social media to figure out what might be a person’s philanthropic interest in USC. It’s like putting a puzzle together but half the pieces are missing and you have just a few clues to find all the pieces and put the puzzle together. 

What did you learn while in school at the CIC that still resonates today?

Lindsay: I remember Dr. Clayton Copeland beginning one of the first lectures of SLIS701 with a quote: “Know-it-alls know they don’t know it all, they know how to find it all.” This quote makes me laugh because my sister has called me a “know-it-all” since we were kids; how funny to find myself working through a program that puts you in the business of “being in the know,” of becoming a librarian/information science professional that at the very least knows how to go about finding an answer or information. Also, this quote is incidentally reflective of my current job – I can call on my past experiences to help me complete assignments, but obviously one can’t know everything. Every day I’m learning of new resources to help me figure out a puzzle or answer a question; I may not know the answer to every question, but I’ve got to be able to find the answer somehow in order to provide development officers with reliable information.

Abigail: Research methodology. My undergraduate background is in art history, which was fairly research intensive, but the courses I took while in the SLIS program helped to refine that skill set – what resources are available, where to look, how to search, etc.

Hillary: The program emphasizes the importance of inclusion and accessibility in all aspects of being an information professional. Learning about all sorts of information accessibility issues, like the digital divide’s effect on a child’s performance in school, has left a lasting impression on my outlook on the world. These two themes still resonate with me today and push me to be more mindful and empathetic in my professional and personal life.

Do you have a favorite professor or a favorite memory from your time at the CIC?

Lindsay: Most of my favorite memories include being a part of LISSA, the Library & Info Science Student Association. As the MLIS program is largely online, the opportunities to socialize and make friends is slim, so LISSA was helpful in creating a network of friends that not only led to Happy Hours and movie nights, but it also created a network of colleagues that I know I can call on in the future of my career.

Abigail: My favorite memory would have to be my History of Libraries class. I found it fascinating to see how the role of libraries hasn’t so much changed throughout history as it’s grown. The class was also one of the few I took on campus. So much of the SLIS program is online, which has its benefits, but there’s something about having the opportunity to meet and interact with fellow classmates and discuss the course material face-to-face that you just don’t get with an all-digital forum. At the end of the semester we were required to present on research we had conducted, and it was interesting to see which aspects of librarianship/areas of library history appealed to each of us and why.

Hillary: I love the entire staff at SLIS, but my favorite professor is Dr. Elise Lewis. She is an amazing mentor that was incredibly encouraging of my academic and professional pursuits. Her pep talks got me through some stressful times in grad school and I feel very fortunate to have had her as my advisor.

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