A day in the life of a nonprofit worker

1. What is your name, organization and job title (you don’t have to give your name/organization if you don’t want to- it can be anonymous)
MacArthur Antigua. Public Allies. Director of National Recruitment and Expansion. Public Allies advances diverse new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation. Our main engine for this is through our AmeriCorps Apprenticeship Program In Fall ’09, we’ll have over 600 young adults doing 10 month nonprofit direct service apprenticeships in 18 different cities across the country. We’re about to complete our 15th program year, and after this current year, we’ll have over 2,800 alumni.

2. What is the first thing you do when you get in the office?
Finalize my to-do list for the day. Followed quickly by checking the Public Allies Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr accounts, and then following up on e-mails.

3. How do you spend your lunch break?
I review the interesting articles that were tagged on the PA Twitter feed, check my personal facebook account, try to go for a quick walk outside if possible. If it’s not so nice outside, I’ll try to write informal correspondence to friends/colleagues so I don’t totally depend on the digital world.

4. Which part of your work do you enjoy most?
I really love working with our local site staff on innovating our recruitment practices. We have staff in over 18 cities, and it’s so much fun creating a space for them to think differently and imagine new strategies. I also enjoy the actual practice of recruitment itself – I’ve set up virtual “Info sessions” (over webinar/conference call) so I can personally present the Public Allies program to potential participants across the country, and that keeps me grounded. It’s easy to be stuck at 50,000 feet when working at a national office, so I really value the opportunities to be one-on-one/small group with local site staff, or potential participants. 12 years ago I was a participant in this program, 6 years ago, I directed our Chicago Apprenticeship Program. It’s tremendously satisfying to be in this position to work on a mission I really believe in, and be responsible for helping connect new people to this mission.

5. Please finish this sentence: If someone wanted my job, they would have to…..
Have to be able to blend the new-school (understanding the generational shift in the NPO workplace, as well as the technology that allows us to manage a national virtual team of 18 different cities and staff), and yet master the “old-school” style of community organizing (ability to listen deeply, the one-on-one relationship, and setting/celebrating victories).

6. What advice or tips do you have for other nonprofit professionals in your position?
In terms of the content (which is “recruitment” of young adults): Follow the generational trends in terms of work, leisure and finance. Invent methods to share those insights (slideshare, live workshops, etc). In terms of the mode (working nationally, albeit virtually): keep building relationships across the country, be nimble with the new technology/social media. Before this gig, I had founded my own nonprofit consultancy (Massive Creativity), and I learned that it’s all about doing the work – I had to keep “gigging” to make money, keep my skills sharp, and support relationships. Like Encyclopedia Brown said, “No Case Too Small.” If you can’t get paid, then keep doing pro-bono stuff so that others can witness your work. Now that I’m back in “institutional” life, and that I don’t have to create my own projects/work, I’ve still found that notion of “constant gigging” still helps. Little side projects could become innovations that inform your work, or it could be useful contributions to colleagues to support the work-at large, and just build good karma and goodwill.

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