When I graduated from college, I had no prospects and no money. My first thought was to join a nonprofit. I wanted to help others in my community and contribute to the well-being of a better society. I know, cliche right? I figured working for the benefit of others was a great way to pay my dues in the professional world and give myself a chance to expound upon the knowledge I gained in my academic studies. I was offered a position as a communications associate for a nonprofit based out of New York City and the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. I took the position and moved to New York City in hopes of getting my career started and it turned out to be one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made.
My work as a communications associate in a nonprofit provided me with crash-course experience in administrative and office procedures that helped keep a business running smoothly. I gained a strong understanding of personnel management and flexibility. I did experience some setbacks, but I was quickly able to learn from those mistakes and move on.
Here are some tips that can help anyone interested in working an administrative role for a nonprofit:
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Communication is key when it comes to maintaining various aspects of business within your position. Whether by email or face-to-face, it is very important to remain an open book. You are constantly communicating with upper management, co-workers, and constituents. Being a good communicator can help you get a job done quickly and effectively.
Stay Organized. I kept reminders on my smart phone, email, and address book so I didn’t forget meetings, arrangements, scheduled telephone calls, or anything that required my attention. Try to keep a tidy desk, with all your documents in a file, and any online files in their prospective folder. Also try keeping a to-do list of projects that you have upcoming, in progress, and in completion. Taking the time to properly sort your priorities will promote professional productivity. A clean mind brings peace of mind.
Pay Attention To Detail. When I first starting working at the nonprofit, I would always miss little things, like a misspelled word or a crooked sign. My supervisor would be good about bringing these things to my attention. Don’t downplay small details, because the entire accumulation of our environment consists of tiny details. Everything counts!
Take Initiative. Sometimes it’s all up to you to get things done and you should do so to the best of your ability. If you see a task that has yet to be completed, and you have all the proper instructions on how to carry the task out, go for it! Printing out that meeting agenda or calling the day before for bus schedules could save someone a headache somewhere down the line.
Be Flexible. When you work for a nonprofit, it is very important to be able to adapt to a variety or roles necessary for the task at hand. If you need school IDs for your after-school program, make them! If you need to direct guests to their seats at your annual benefit, become the host of the evening! Be able to mold and adapt to any situation.
Working for a nonprofit can be challenging and yet rewarding. I was able to enhance my skills in strategic planning, production assisting, and team management. All of these skills have played a role in my career development. If you want to make a change or difference, in more ways than one, then I strongly encourage using these tips to advance your own development within the nonprofit of your choice.