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)
Elizabeth Clawson, Communications & Development Associate at the National Council of Nonprofits

2. What is the first thing you do when you get in the office?
I check my email so I can respond right away to urgent messages, usually from my colleagues or journalists.

3. How do you spend your lunch break?
I confess—I usually eat lunch (which I bring from home) at my desk. I know that’s a work-life balance no-no. But I do read the Express (DC’s daily newsmag), which ends with the fun stuff—human interest stories, the Blog Log, comics, crossword, etc. So it’s relaxing.

4. Which part of your work do you enjoy most?
I love working with the media. I wrote and edited for my high school paper for a couple years and loved the writing aspect of it…but I was too introverted to enjoy constantly seeking out interviews. I’m still in awe of the whole profession. If I can get one journalist one good source or statistic, I feel like it’s been a good day. Same for my colleagues—they sustain me.

5. Please finish this sentence: If someone wanted my job, they would have to…..
…be resourceful. We’re a small office, so when we need something we don’t have, we sometimes have to freestyle it. “It” might be shipping labels, or a licensing and permissions policy, or an intern orientation binder. Then again, we didn’t even have intact communications or development departments when my job was created, so I’ve been building it from the ground up over the past year. That’s been both exhilarating and exhausting. It kind of reminds me of constructing massive Lego towers when I was a kid: you’re never really done, because there are always other things to add to it.

6. What advice or tips do you have for other nonprofit professionals in your position?
Don’t overthink things. There’s so much professional development talk going around these days, especially for young nonprofit workers: Start a blog. Manage up. Find a mentor. Eat lunch away from your desk. I’m sure it’s all good stuff, but it can become paralyzing. Sometimes you just have to do your work. Update the website without wondering if you should ask for a raise for taking on IT duties. Ask your boss a question without trying to advance your career. Eat lunch alone without feeling guilty for networking. If your professional development starts cannibalizing your job, I think that’s neither professional nor development.

If you want to share a day in your life, please email me – kristen@advancementcompany.com

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