Nonprofit Professionals Panel: The take-aways!

On Thursday, February 26, three Minnesota VISTA cohorts came together for a Non-profit Professional Discussion Panel, in which six professionals shared their background and experience, and career wisdom. The panelists included:

Christine Durand - Advancement Officer at Minnesota Environmenal Partnership
David Miller - Director of Volunteer Programs at Neighbors, Inc.
Rebecca Noecker - Outreach and Partnerships Director at AchieveMpls
Trisha Reinwald - Vice President of Member Services at MACC CommonWalth
Alana Stimes - Program Manager, GCDF Instructor at Minnesota Opportunity Corps
Nick Stuber - Research Associate at Amherst H. Wilder Foundation

Here are some of the insights shared during the panel:

  1. Recommended book: The 20 Minute Networking Meeting
  2. When asked what changes they’ve observed in the nonprofit sector:
    • The increased “professionalism” of the sector
    • An increased focus on collaboration (and trying to remove the fear of competition among nonprofits)
    • The increased available to gain professional certifications in all aspects of nonprofit management
    • Nonprofits realizing the importance of volunteer management
    • The rise of the social enterprise (businesses that do good and also make money, rather than nonprofits being the only organizations that care about doing good)
    • The trend of “job hopping” (moving quickly from job to job), but acknowledging that it can be beneficial to look for jobs you think you could be happy in long-term
  3. Start practicing how you will convey your VISTA experience to future employers who may be unfamiliar with VISTA
  4. If it’s important to you to be friends with the people you work with, make sure to ask about the culture of an organization during your interview and pay attention to see if the interviewer mentions the people they work with
  5. Your resume should not read like a list of job descriptions, it should highlight the responsibilities you have been given and the outcomes of these responsibilities
  6. When asked to give a final piece of advice:
    • Get involved with YNPN Twin Cities as a safe place for easing into networking (or other professional associations. But YNPN is free!)
    • Stick together with your VISTA cohort through your transition out of your term of service – checking in occasionally as a group in the months following your service to stay connected through the transition can be helpful. This panelists mentioned that she has what she called a “job searching club,” and after about 3 months all of them were employed
    • Informational interviews!! (This is was stressed over and over!)
    • If you don’t meet all of the criteria in a job description, apply anyway! It’s possible to wow an interviewer with your attitude, and as this panelist said, “skills can be taught, but you can’t teach personality." In other words, they will hire for attitude, and train for skill!
    • Your job search might take some time, but don’t get discouraged - you don't want to come off as desperate and resentful when meeting potential employers!
    • Be confident in your abilities and don’t sell yourself short!
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