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Associate Director---Nonprofit Organization

Laura

Tell us about your work---what do you do? I am an Associate State Director for AARP in a western state and I "job-share" the position with another person; I work 3-days/week, the other person works 2-days/week. My job is "operational" -- I am responsible for implementing the programs and activities of AARP at the state level . Since AARP's programs are run largley by volunteers, my job involves recruiting, training and maintaining a highly skilled and motivated volunteer corps . I also work with "community partners," non-profit or for-profit groups that have issues of mutual concern. For example, I have worked with the District Attorney's Office and the Attorney General's Office on the issue of anti-telemarketing fraud. What skills are needed? Minimum requirements include a bachelor's degree in a field such as sociology, gerontology, or public policy plus 3-5 years experience. A Master's Degree is preferred . What was your major? My M.A. is in Gerontology; my B.A. is in International Studies . How did you get started in your career? I came to AARP as an intern to complete the requirements for my last semester of graduate school. I was hired upon completing the four-month internship . What experience do you need in this job? Minimum requirements include 3-5 years related experience in aging issues, volunteer management, etc. It helps to have an affinity for working with mid-life to older adults . Describe your "typical" workday: The job requires about 30% travel, i.e., going out in the state to project or meeting sites, providing technical support, etc. A "typical" day in the office would involve communicating with staff (nationwide) and volunteers (statewide) on e-mail and the telephone; moving projects forward; meeting with other staff, community partners, and/or volunteers to update and strategize on projects and activities ; and, handling inquiries and concerns from members and the general public . What is the hardest aspect of your job? The hardest aspect of my job is juggling multiple priorities and having to "switch gears" at a moment's notice. As a staff member, part of my job is to provide quality service to members and volunteers. I am often interrupted in my work to talk with a member or meet with a volunteer who may need my assistance or advice on a project. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? The most rewarding aspect of my job is working with a great staff and a phenomenal group of very dedicated and talented volunteers. The volunteers are a constant source of inspiration; they also often become good friends. Since they are volunteers, their motivation does not include monetary compensation and they tend to care about you as a person. Their wisdom and experience provides daily support! What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? Be sure that you enjoy working with mid-life and older adults. Working as a team or in a group is more the mode than working on your own . Education in a related field truly helps but experience is the best teacher. By and large the "aging field" is not a highly paid one but the personal rewards are great.