Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women


on August 31, 2010

The United Nations, New York, NY

I more or less knew that I always wanted to do something that “mattered” as a career, but after nearly 6 years working for a nonprofit, I’m beginning to re-evaluate my definition of what “matters.” As I mentioned in the last post, I work with emerging nonprofits, both in the US and worldwide, and help them become more effective organizations and increase their ability to serve their communities. While that all sounds very warm and fuzzy, my work has a large administrative component to it. Even though I work for these start-up nonprofits, I have a hard time rationalizing to myself that paying a client’s phone bill or providing a vendor recommendation to them is really making a significant difference in the world. I also have to admit that even though I wanted to work with nonprofits, I didn’t want to personally be nonprofit.

I thought after I got my Masters degree, I would have a wealth of possibilities open to me: the UN would be begging me to work with them, the country’s most prestigious think tanks would be competing with government agencies to capture my expertise and every Foundation with a global focus would want me as their Senior Program Manager. Ok, I wasn’t that naïve, but I certainly didn’t expect to still be working for the same organization that I started working for after I completed my undergraduate degree.

The economic meltdown is certainly having an effect on my job search. Last year, I really didn’t find anything to even apply to, but even though I’m starting to find some interesting opportunities, now I’m competing with more candidates than ever before. It’s frustrating. I know I can do these jobs and do a great at them, but for some reason, I just can’t seem to convince the hiring managers of that.

I’ve considered going to the “big, bad corporate world” and making tons of money and then making lots of donations to charity. This way, I can still make a difference, but I can also support my family better. These thoughts are then challenged by my fears of selling out. It’s complicated, and makes me feel like I don’t really know what I want to do with my life. I’m sure everything will work out eventually and that this is probably not an uncommon experience for people in this age group. I also agree with Isabel – I’m thankful to even have a job right now. I know plenty of people who don’t, and the fact that I’m whining that I don’t like my job makes me feel like a self-indulgent whiner. So…..I’m going to buck up and refocus my energies on finding a job I really want. Thanks for reading. This has been rather cathartic. Hopefully, before too long, I’ll have some positive news to report!


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