With the turn of every new year, we seize the opportunity to turn over a new leaf and work on a healthier, kinder, more awesome version of ourselves. We make resolutions, set new goals, join a gym, organize our closets, sign up to volunteer and look for ways to stay accountable.
This year, think about setting some professional development goals — and becoming a member/renewing with YNPN Des Moines. We’re probably not as ripped as your new personal trainer, but we can help keep you on track for success.
15 Professional Development Resolutions for 2015 (and ideas for achieving them!)
Get published. Challenge yourself to write something worth reading. Maybe your organization has a newsletter or blog, or your development team is in need of some testimonials for a campaign? We’re always on the hunt for guest bloggers. Just e-mail info@with your post.
Supervise an intern. Looking to gain managerial experience? Explore opportunities to bring on an intern at your organization, or supervise a short-term service learning project. Bobbi Meyer from the Simpson College Career Center offered her tips on our blog.
Take someone whose work you admire out to coffee. One of the coolest things about living in Des Moines is how accessible our leaders are. Think about who you admire and take the bold step of inviting them to coffee. It’s not about asking them to become your mentor, but asking smart questions that can help you weight your next career step. Intimidated by a one-on-one? Come to one of the YNPN monthly Thursday morning coffee discussion meetups! They’ll start up again in February.
Design a poster/flyer that wouldn’t make a designer gag. Bad design won’t help your cause. Maybe you don’t have fancy software, but these resources should help! Tips to go from design ‘freak’ to ‘geek’ + Infographics 101
Pitch in to plan an event. Odds are, you didn’t take an event planning course as part of your college curriculum. (If you did, we’re totally jealous!) But in nonprofits, events are a huge part of your world. Stacie put together a great series for us, includingthis fundraising event planning timeline/checklist. No room to plan events for your organization? Our committees are always looking for help!
Attend a conference. Conferences are an awesome way to learn about new skills/developments in the field and meet people from your sector who might be connected to your work. Shameless plug: YNPN NON-CON is coming up on January 8, 2015! Register today. (It’s FREE for paid members.)
Eat lunch with a different co-worker each month. Don’t wait for a staff retreat to get to know your team. Whether your office is small or large, grab a bite in the breakroom or go out to eat with a co-worker you don’t know as well and maybe start to build a new bond. (We love La Mie or Trellis at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden for a tasty power lunch. Tell us your favorite spots in the comments!)
Follow up. Did you have a meeting with someone who offered good advice? Interview for a new job? Apply to grad school? Consider sending a handwritten note of thanks. Keep a stack and stamps in your drawer or bag to help make this a habit. You’ll certainly make an impression.
Develop a tagline. Come up with a short way of introducing yourself that doesn’t just rely on your job title. According to our “Afraid to Ask” event with Mary Bontrager, it’s a step toward building your personal brand. And if you’re between jobs or in a position you don’t love, it steers the conversation toward what you feel are your strengths.
Beef up your LinkedIn presence. Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, an active profile can be a career catalyst. Ditch the selfie for your profile pic (YNPN Des Moines occasionally hosts an event to get a professional headshot), add in your skills and join our YNPN Des Moines group to get your questions answered. (Fun fact: Our founding co-chair got headhunted through the project management skills on his profile! Check out Danny’s project management tips here.)
Subscribe to an e-newsletter. Sometimes it’s hard to seek out tips, tricks and inspiration when you’ve got a huge to-do list. Want to learn more about social media trends. You better bet there’s an e-newsletter for that! (Chris Snider, a professor at Drake has a good one.) DSM and the Business Record also publish e-newsletters with good local business and nonprofit content. YNPN National has an e-newsletter, too!
Go to another organization’s fund or friend-raiser event. Looking for an excuse to get dressed up and enjoy a glass of wine? Celebrate for a cause other than your own. It’s fun with a side of professional development, when you scope out the vendors, auction items, etc. These days, so many local events have a YP rate. Save up and check the Gatsby Gala, Farmstasia, Zoobilation or some other fabulous event off your bucket list.
Ask for help. In the nonprofit world, we rely lots on on-the-job training. Sometimes you’ve gotta fake-it-till-you-make-it, or pretend you’re a multitasking octopus who can get it all done in a day. (We all have the same 24 hours as Beyonce, right? Wrong. She has a staff!) Come to one of the YNPN Des Moines ‘Afraid to Ask’ sessions and get help in a certain area, or ask your boss to send you to a workshop, or whatever you need to not become burnt out and discouraged. Got it all covered? Offer to help someone else on your staff with a project if you see s/he is overwhelmed.
Write a grant or make an ask. Maybe you have a grantwriting team (lucky duck!) but if this isn’t part of your day-to-day work, see if you can build skills in fund development. The Charitable Giving Resource Center holds a Fundraising University in the fall, and the Drake University Center for Professional Studies (a YNPN Des Moines Sponsor!) hosts a workshop this coming May.
Do you have other professional development goals for 2015? We want to hear them! Don’t forget to renew your membership or join YNPN Des Moines today!
We’re so excited! YNPN Des Moines is hosting our first mini conference and after party on Jan. 8, 2015 to celebrate our second programming year.
We’ll be exploring topics in nonprofit management through the lens of art, a theme that was inspired by our hosts, the Des Moines Social Club, and a desire to have a Powerpoint-free conference. NON-CON attendees will creatively address challenges in the nonprofit sector and enjoy a space to meet and learn from potential collaborators.
Who’s it for? The event is open to professionals of all ages and experience levels. Whether you currently work at a charitable organization or have goals to be a change-maker in our community, you will come away excited and energized to fulfill your mission. It’s FREE for YNPN Des Moines members or $45 for the general public.
Get tickets on Eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/ynpn-des-moines-non-con-tickets-14333978315
The best thing about planning this is working with a team of our up-and coming leadership, and pulling in amazing artists and nonprofit pros to facilitate.
Nick Renkoski, marketer/actor and a man of many talents, will facilitate an unconventional kick-off session. Easter Seals Iowa President & CEO Sherri Nielsen, will provide extra wisdom as we take on “difficult conversations in nonprofits.”
After our opening session, attendees can choose two breakouts from the lineup:
- Laura Palmer of XO-LP will bring her nonprofit pro background and super illustrator skills together as part of a team going inside the mind of fundraising. Angie Dethlefs-Trettin from the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines andMatt McGarvey from Telligen Community Initiative are some of the most approachable grantmakers you’ll ever meet, and they’ve agreed to put their brains on loan for the afternoon.
- Emily Boyd, a nonprofit pro (Community Housing Initiatives) by day and yoga instructor by early morning/evening will drop some burnout prevention tactics.
- Educators/Power poets Kristopher Rollins and Emily Lang of RUN DSM will be there with all of their characteristic energetic reciprocity for a session on poetry and mission. (First session only)
- Danny Heggen, our fearless co-chair and musician-by-night will share his ideas on setting the sound at your fundraising event and how to communicate with bands and musical artists when you’re on a budget. (Second session only)
- Back by popular demand, designer Ariane Criger, who facilitated our Design 101 workshop, will present on graphic design principles and the creative process for non-designers.
After the mini-conference ends at 4 p.m. we’ll have an after-party in the Social Club’s Basement Bar from 5-7 p.m. Between sessions, you can hop over to Architectural Salvage for a super informal affinity-based discussion opportunity. We’d love for you to be at the NON-CON, but if you’re stuck at work and can just swing by for the after party, we’re excited to see you!
Huge thanks to the amazing sponsors come forward to make this day possible and We’re splitting our sponsor dollars with the Social Club, who are so graciously hosting us.
Please join us Jan. 8!
Our Nation’s election day has passed, but election season isn’t over at YNPN Des Moines! From Nov. 18-25, YNPN Des Moines members will have the chance to elect a slate of officers for our 2015 Board! (Not a member yet? Hop over and sign up!)
Of course, this being Iowa, we expect to meet our candidates. Tonight (11/18) is your chance!
Come hang out, learn more about these interesting people, and share your ideas for continuing to grow this organization. Up for election are:
Chad Driscoll, Board Chair
Kristin Huinker, Vice Chair
Joseph Sorenson, Treasurer
Dara Madigan, Secretary
Guest post by Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, MA, CHES – Director of Education and Outreach for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland
Last week at the November Afraid to Ask, we hosted a panel on Diversity and Inclusion. Panelists included (left to right):
Henny Ohr , Executive Director – EMBARC | Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center
Sonia Reyes-Snyder, Regional Director – Proteus, Inc.
Marvin DeJear, Director – Evelyn K Davis Center for Working Families
Each of the panelists spoke about their personal experiences growing up with diversity and how they work to be inclusive within their organizations. Discrimination and racism still occur today, whether people realize or even recognize their biases or how their words and actions are coming across. Questions for the panel ranged from asking about training within the organization to utilizing an interpreter/translator to addressing individuals we work with who do not want to acknowledge diversity or work toward becoming more inclusive.
The question regarding training was asked regarding cultural competency for employees of an organization. I challenge us all to refrain from using cultural competency as the umbrella term for training and use other titles such as cultural inclusivity, cultural humility, or cultural responsive. We can never be fully competent of other cultures, communities, groups, or individuals. Additionally, we can never be fully competent of the community we identify with. For example, Sonia talked about how she identifies as Latina but since she is from El Salvador, she could not provide adequate information on another Latino culture for example in Honduras. Training should begin where each individual is at through assessments and reflection. We must first understand ourselves and the culture we bring before we can learn about and appreciate other cultures. There are a variety of resources on cultural inclusivity training and we all can reach out to organizations such as EMBARC, Proteus, and the Evelyn K Davis Center for assistance.
There was extensive discussion on the use of interpretation and translation services. Although many organizations are hiring bilingual employees, there are not enough to adequately serve our communities and we do not have many bilingual workers outside of English and Spanish. When looking for an interpreter or translator, it is important to find a certified interpreter/translator. If an organization is producing bilingual materials, have multiple sets of eyes to review is important to review literacy levels and make sure it is as understandable as possible in all of the dialects. EMBARC and Proteus would be resources if organizations are interested in assistance with translation. Here are some other resources on interpretation and translation:
Thank you to Des Moines University for hosting! DMU has some great initiatves working toward a more diverse and inclusive environment run out of the Office of diversity and Multicultural Affairs. They are a great model for organizations to work toward which includes events, training, and incorporating community members and organizations.
I am excited about the opportunities ahead of us in our community, organizations, and within YNPN! Looking forward to working with all of you to create a more diverse and inclusive Des Moines.
Interested in learning more about Diversity & Inclusion? Register to attend the FREE 2nd Annual Executive Forum on Diversity & Inclusion the Greater Des Moines Partnership will host on November 19, 2014.
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.
Guest post by Christen Bain, YNPN Des Moines member and grant consultant
At the October discussion group, Mary Bontrager brought energy and connections to YNPN. Mary is Executive Vice President of Workforce Development/Education at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, and she spoke with a packed room at Java Joe’s coffeehouse about building our own brands and articulating our vision for the future. It’s always good to think bigger about your career goals and Mary certainly encouraged that line of thinking with an interactive session.
Mary walked the group of YNPs through a few exercises to help us get started on building our own brand. We considered the “product” we have to offer as individuals, our values, passions, and talents to develop our personal statement. Listening to the statements of those in the room, it is clear YNPN is full of talented individuals with a lot to offer! We are passionate about the arts and theatre, about housing, about helping kids, and so much more. This organization is the home to so much good being done in Des Moines.
That day, I developed my personal statement as: “I am an expert efficient communicator with a passion for service and education. My passions and sense of integrity drive my communications, problem solving, and education focused work.”
I’m not 100% behind it yet, but it’s something to continue to work on and develop.
From our longer personal statement, Mary encouraged us to develop a more concise tagline of just 10-12 words that we can use in our daily communications in email signatures, on our business cards and in other written communications. The other imperative is to offer this tagline when asked about ourselves rather than linking our story to just a particular employer or career. This personal statement should span job titles and industries. Even if your job is in housing now, your personal statement and tagline should still be applicable if you switch careers to a non-profit focused on hunger.
Following the guided activity, Mary opened up the group to discussion offering her experience and expertise.
Thanks to YNPN and Professional Development Co-Chair Brianne Fitzgerald for putting the event together!
So what about you all? If you were at the event, did you develop a tagline? Are you tinkering on yours now?
A writer and cameraman from the National Journal visited our happy hour the other month, and YNPN Des Moines got a mention in their article about millennials in Des Moines. Check it out!: Do the Most Hipster Thing Possible – Move to Des Moines. Watch the video, too, because that’s Danny singing on the track in the background.
They’re also hosting a town hall event with Des Moines Public Schools next week. Details.
YNPN Des Moines started when I was at one of those awkward in-between parts in my twenties. I had quit my first profession — journalism, the one I went to college for. I was in the middle of my grad program, studying nonprofit management and executive leadership, and by day was working in a basement as a project manager for a small education-focused nonprofit. My husband and I were also expecting our first child, and ripping the roof of our house with a remodeling project.
My proverbial plate was pretty full, but I felt like something was missing.
I’d encounter issues in my day job that my grad program didn’t necessarily address (board governance, the struggles of working with youth from diverse backgrounds), and so I was glad when I started meeting up with a group of peers every few weeks at Smokey Row. We’d talk about all sorts of topics related to nonprofit work. I met some kindred spirits and felt a sense of community in the informal, down-to-earth discussions.
For me, helping launch YNPN has been a process of peer mentorship. Leadership isn’t something I could gain just from a course in grad school. I had to work with a team to build something from scratch, adding my talents for marketing and communication to those of my friends in the group. (I’m not a finances person, but with Chad as our treasurer, we’re in great shape! I made our first logo when I was home sick one afternoon, but the version our first marketing chair came up with is far more polished. My nature isn’t as technical or detail-oriented as writing bylaws requires, but our secretary, Michelle, and organizational development committee made sure all of our incorporation materials were in order.)
I have continued to invest in YNPN because of the people I’ve watched come forward to participate. Planning an event is one thing, but seeing attendees meet, learn and grow with each other is a remarkable privilege. I truly credit YNPN Des Moines with growing my career.I’ve made inspiring friends through YNPN and learned a heck of a lot about myself in the process. —Brianne Sanchez
Connections, passion and community are the main reasons I lead with YNPN. The importance of making connections, professionally and personally, is at the forefront of why I get up looking forward to each new day. YNPN, for me, is the ideal place to build connections with others who share the same passions and work on growing my community in Des Moines.
While I’m not originally from Des Moines, or Iowa for that matter, I had some difficulty feeling part of the community when I first decided to pursue work here after college. I was soon introduced to a rich and vibrantly diverse community through my first position, which I am still a part of, but I was missing the piece of connecting with other young professionals who shared my interest in social justice, community development and fighting for a larger cause. When I became involved in the group that would eventually lead to the development of YNPN Des Moines, I found this missing piece and have been so pleased to grow my community even more over the last few years. Now I lead not only to continue developing my connections, passions and community, but to assist others with the same growth and I’m excited to see what is to come from here! — Sarah Myren
I lead with YNPN Des Moines because I believe we are all better together. Des Moines is full of talented young professional working in the nonprofit sector. There is so much we can learn from each other and from the leaders in the field we aspire to be. YNPN Des Moines provides members the venues connect and engage in professional development opportunities they may not otherwise had the chance to. I encourage anyone with passion to not only see the Des Moines nonprofit sector grow but be part of that growth to apply for a YNPN Des Moines board position. — Joe Sorenson