Friday, July 13, 2007

End of Week 1

Well, my great adventure into the world of non-profit and public policy has begun. I am winding down Week 1 and I have already learned so many things. Here are a few lessons that are result of my experiences during Week 1 at Cabrini Connection:

1) People in non-profit are really nice: One of my first projects this week has been to contact all the tutoring and mentoring organizations in our database and make sure the information is correct and up-to-date. I don't think I talked to one person who wasn't really helpful, friendly, and excited to be included in our database. Maybe, the adult world isn't so scary after all . . .

2) I'm still trying to figure out exactly what my job is going to be: My official title is Assistant Program Coordinator but I think a more apt title is "Jack(ette) or all Trades." In my first week here, I've updated the website, written dozens of e-mails, called numerous people and just helped around the office. Eventually, I am going to be involved in event planning, recruiting, fundraising, grant writing and much more. Dan, my boss, has given me the assignment of doing a powerpoint of exactly what my job is and what I plan to accomplish with it. I already know that this may be my toughest assignment yet since, when somebody asked me what I planned to get out of my job, I was at a loss for words. Also, it's been a very long time since I've done powerpoint, but hey, it's all part of the learning process.

3) There are A LOT of tutoring and mentoring organizations in Chicago. Not that I didn't think our Tutor/Mentor Connection website wasn't a good idea to begin with, but now that I'm contacting all these different organizations, I'm realizing just how many and how diverse these organizations are. Even the term tutor/mentor program is extremely fluid. Already, it's getting somewhat frustrating trying to keep track of all the different organizations and make sure that their information is all up to date. You would think it would be more organized, but our system is as good as you can get.

4) I'm only experiencing a tiny part of what my job is going to entail: Right now, we're doing summer programming and a lot of our work is office work to prepare for the upcoming school year. My duties in July are going to change greatly once it comes to September and the tutoring sessions begin.

5) You never know who could be a networking contact: I'm finding that it's not always just the people who you think will be good contacts for your network. People as diverse as attorneys, computer technicians, real estate brokers, etc. could also be important contacts.

6) Some of your biggest assets are those in the community you are working with: I think one of the biggest lessons for people working in non-profit, no matter what kind, is that their biggest asset could be right in the pool of people your working with. A lot of our former students come back and help out with chaperoning trips, helping out with evening programming (tech club, art club, film club, writing club, etc.) What a great asset, since so many of these students grew up in the same environment and have had similar experiences and hardships as many of these students have. I think a lot of organizations would have more success if they started tapping into their pool of people they work with and find out what strengths THEY have to offer the organization.

That's pretty much it for Week 1. Look forward to stories of College visits and golf tournaments next week!

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