Guest blog post by E.J. Wallace, Manager of Mobilization for Save the Children Action Network
For the past five years, my family and I had been living and working in Honolulu, Hawaii. I loved what I did, but after my son was born, it became clear that we needed to be closer to family, so we moved back to the Des Moines area. I had no job prospects, a skinny notebook of old contacts, and a desire to change the world. Through determination, perseverance, and a positive attitude, I was able to land a great job with a great organization. Below are 5 tips that I wanted to offer young professionals looking to make a difference in our community… and get paid for it!
1. Don’t be afraid to volunteer – This is actually a lesson I learned when looking for work in Honolulu, but I think it applies everywhere. One of the most discouraging things about looking for employment is thinking you are wasting your time, talents, mission in life while searching for an organization that will give you a chance. Volunteering with an organization aligned with your values can do two things – 1) get your name out there to an organization/area you may one day work for, and 2) feed your need to change our world.
2. Surround yourself with people in your corner, and LISTEN TO THEM – I can’t tell you how many times my wife and family, friends back in Honolulu, good friends here in Iowa, and spending time in prayer helped me get through the feelings of giving up. People who care about you can provide great advice and insights to enhance your resume, and to help talk through what you bring to the table at a perspective job.
3. Craft your personal brand, or mission statement – a few weeks back, YNPN held a talk about crafting your personal brand. I’d encourage everyone to check out any of YNPN’s events, trainings, or networking events, but this one I’d highly recommend reading though. Creating a statement about what sets you apart, and getting in touch with your values and passions really helps boost your confidence when searching for employment. Then, it’s not just about finding a job, it’s about being true to yourself!
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff – I’ve always been proud of my resiliency – the ability to shrug off the lemons and make lemonade – but I truly believe we could all get better at this. You have a passion, the world NEEDS more people like you. Don’t let grumpy people, roadblocks, or a bad interview stop you from landing a great opportunity.
5. Network, network, network – One of the first things I did when I got off the plane was to set up a meeting with old friends who had landed jobs in the area I was interested in working in. From there I had close to 50 conversations with people I never met before, but who could help connect me to meaningful work. The nonprofit world is full of people who want more people like you to make our community even better. Sit down for coffee, open up your heart, and watch the connections happen.
E.J. Wallace is the Manager of Mobilization for Save the Children Action Network, a new 501 (c)(4) organization that aims to mobilize Iowans and all Americans around a commitment that cannot wait – investing in early childhood now. Established in 2014 to expand Save the Children’s capacity to transform young lives, Save the Children Action Network engages our government, businesses, partner organizations and supporters to take bold action and to hold our elected leaders accountable for the youngest, and too often forgotten, global citizens.