Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Nonprofit Career Story -- what is yours?

Shelly Cryer an amazing researcher and consultant who works for American Humanics and NYU just came out with an awesome nonprofit career guide. She has a contest to give away one of her free books if you tell your story about working in the nonprofit sector. Her blog post- 6 key trends that could make you seek a job with a nonprofit has a comments section for you to post your story for a chance to win her book.

Although I already have a copy of her book, her post inspired me to write my story-

This is the road to figuring out my purpose—why I work in nonprofit organizations.

I've worked in nonprofits for over 7 years. After earning my AH certificate and graduating from college, I started out as an administrative assistant wishing I wasn't a secretary. Slowly I gained more responsibilities on my job and was promoted to Operations Coordinator. I thought for sure that I was not supposed to be an administrator. At the time I thought doing administration was beneath me. Little did I know that this would be my calling and my career.

When I moved to another state and started looking for jobs, I quickly realized the jobs that I qualified for and would be good at were that of Operations Manager. I realized I was really good at doing Operations and came to terms with the fact that administration was strongly needed in the organization in order for it to run. A couple of years later, when I was hired as an Assistant Director for a nonprofit with a great salary, I started blogging about nonprofit operations, and received many great responses from people who were looking for operations tips for their own nonprofit organizations.

This brings me to where I am now. See, I don’t have a passion for a specific mission or cause, my passion is helping nonprofits run more efficiently and effectively. I want to support the people who have a specific vision and mission. This drew me to pursue my PhD so I could teach nonprofit managers on a regular basis how to improve their finances and operations so they can better achieve their missions. Now I’m not afraid to say, I love administration!!


Anonymous said...


It is refreshing to hear from another generalist in the nonprofit sector. I also do not have a cause, but from high-school days knew I wanted to work to improve the lives of the least-advantaged in our world, and since sophomore year in college knew I wanted to be a nonprofit manager.

After college, I joined the Jesuit Volunteer Core, a one-year domestic lay volunteer program, and became half the staff of a small NPO. I was able to get my hands dirty in everything from program management to resource development to building a communications strategy.

After this experience, I found a job working for a Catholic diocese as the director of marketing, development and communications for their 39 schools. A new position, I was given the freedom (and benefit of the doubt) to build out their development and marketing efforts.

I was successful, but I knew I wanted to work in different functional roles, gain more background in business in general, and work in international development. So after two years, I started at the Yale School of Management where I am currently going into my second year.

There are an infinite number of reasons why to go to graduate school (to your earlier post), but I did it for the above reasons and because my program forgives loans of those who work for NPOs after graduation.

This summer, I am at United Way of America assisting in creating a global learning strategy.

Upon graduation with my MBA, I look forward to continuing my path to leadership within the nonprofit sector.

I look forward to hearing everyone's stories.


troxell_greg said...

Having the opportunity to conduct a brief interview of Shelly Cryer last week I am very pleased to endorse her new book and commend the thoughtful leadership that she has demonstrated to the non-profit sector.

This book is a must read for every human being concerned with the issues that threaten and undue the majesty and joys of life, liberty and creation.

- Greg Troxell
Worldwide Interfaith Association said...

I too am another generalist. Axcting as a consultant I have the opportunity to help numerous organizations nationwide, without having a specific mission to follow. :)