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Assistant Director---Nonprofit Organization

Kimberly L. Dean

What do you do? Partnership for the Future is a non-profit youth employment program for high school students in Richmond, VA. While I do a little of everything (by virtue of being a small non-profit), my primary responsibilities are program and business development . What skills are needed? Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, presentation and sales skills, good organization skills and attention to detail , creativity , and most importantly, FLEXIBILITY . Being in a small non-profit means thinking fast on your feet and being able to step in and out of various roles with relative ease. What was your major? Psychology with a Women's Studies minor. How did you get started in your career? Actually, I stumbled upon my career by accident during my INROADS internship experience, as I spent the first two years of college intending to become a research chemist. After changing my major to psychology, I discovered through INROADS that my passions lie in helping young people reach their highest potential. As luck would have it, Partnership for the Future was founded as I came to this revelation and I was able to obtain an INROADS Internship with the organization. What experience do you need in this job? Getting experience working within a non-profit is the best thing you can do. However, being a non-profit often means there aren't a lot of paid internships available. But be on the lookout---they are out there. Describe your "typical" workday: As with almost any organization, every day is different. A typical day during the school year is spent in the community networking with organizations who may want to become business partners/sponsors of Partnership (by providing internships or monetary/in-kind donations) or spent on the phone following up on leads. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Because of the need to wear many hats, the hardest aspect of the job would vary from person to person, depending upon the individual's comfort zone. Personally, the biggest challenge is business development. I do not have a sales background, and I am not a salesperson at heart (contrary to what others tell me), so it takes a lot of effort for me to be successful at this part of the job. However, I've learned a lot about what corporations are seeking when considering participation in charitable /community efforts. This helps me tremendously with the program development piece, as I am able to consider the needs of student participants and those of our business partners. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Without a doubt, it's seeing our students be successful. When I see students complete a project during their first summer, become eager to learn about all of the available colleges during their second summer, or beam as they accept scholarships to the college of their choice during the third summer, I know I've done my job. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? Network with people in the non-profit sector. My boss once said to one of our students that people love to talk about themselves, so give people that opportunity. Conduct informational interviews with professionals in the field so you get to see non-profits through the eyes of real people. Also, do your homework. The non-profit sector is as diverse as the private or government sector which leaves a lot to consider---What population do I want to serve, or service do I want to provide? Do I want to work in a large, medium, or small agency? Do I want to work in a stable or start-up agency? What does it mean to work in a grant-funded position, and is this an option for me? What are realistic salary expectations? Nothing can take the place of doing your own research so you can make the decision that is right for you.