A Paint Brush And Work Gloves Helped Me Find My Niche


I am no expert, but I am a young professional, and I found my niche! My niche is my passions, my happiness and how I turned my interests in volunteering and philanthropy into a career. Currently, I am the Foundation Associate for The Provident Bank Foundation. Getting to this place in my career has had ups and downs, but every day I walk into my office I know I am where I need to be. I have always enjoyed being that sounding board to family and friends, giving advice when I could or just an ear to listen to. I liked helping people, making a difference whenever I could. This is a part of me that has been in my blood for as long as I can remember and a quality I think I’ll never lose.


My adventure into the non-profit sector and corporate foundation:

My journey to get where I am today took hard work, mentors and influencers and self-motivation. I wanted to give up so many times and take the easy way out but through networking, talking to the right people and pushing myself, I was able to get through the tough challenges life through at me. My network started small with personal connections, such as my parents and some teachers and tutors who truly believed in me. They all gave me the push to step outside of my comfort zone and get my hands dirty. Spring semester of my sophomore year at Fairleigh Dickinson University, I got onto a plane with a few dozen other college students from across the country and landed in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Spending a week in the gulf coast and seeing the devastation made by Hurricane Katrina changed my life. I was in disbelief on how Mother Nature can be so beautiful but can take everything away in seconds. I returned from my first Alternative Spring Break with the determination to graduate with a degree and experience I can use for my future. I jumped on any opportunity to volunteer or take on an internship at a local non-profit. I graduated with a Bachelor in Communication Studies and ready to take on the world.

My next adventure didn’t happen the way I had imagination and I ran into a few forks in the road, but ultimately it was those forks that got me to where I am. As motivated and determined as I was to find my perfect job at 21 years old it did not work that way. I started working part-time at local public relations firms focused on women’s health. I was overall happy I had some type of job after I graduated but it wasn’t what kept me motivated. I still kept my head high as much as I could, continued to connect with those in my network of mentors and kept on looking for the job that got me excited. I decided to apply to grad school and hope it would open more opportunities for me. Luck was on my side; during my time studying for the GRE’s a door did eventually open. For the next two and a half years, while going to grad school Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration I worked at a few different New Jersey based non-profits. It was during my first semester at Rutgers I went to a networking event where I had the opportunity to listen to Nancy Lublin, CEO of Dosomething.org and Founder of Dress for Success and Adam Braun, Founder of Pencils of Promise. Both of their stories are very different but they found their niche and impacted the world in ways unimaginable. I was drawn into their stories and influenced by their words. It was after the event I went back to my everyday life and knew I was heading in the right direction and maybe one day I am able to share my story on how I changed the world.

This networking event was just the beginning for me; I was like a sponge, taking in all the knowledge and advice from anyone I spoke to in the non-profit sector. I made sure I had the skills, commitment and expertise in this field to be as professional as possible. I aspire to do something great every day, not because I need to or it’s the “right thing to do”. It was a choice that became a passion that turned into my day-to-day.

Corporate..not a negative word!

I never really put two and two together on corporate philanthropy or corporate foundations. I only saw and thought “the corporate world”, this negative working world and said to myself I do not want to be a part of that. However, I was at this point in my life that I felt I can use my skill sets for better use, I needed new challenges and overall wanted to make my way up the ladder in my career. I again, stepped out of my comfort zone, broadened my job search and came across The Provident Bank Foundation. The job description and responsibilities sounded exciting, challenging and rewarding, I was hooked and knew this was the job for me. Working for the Foundation has been not only awe-inspiring, but working for a financial institution that is so committed to the community is encouraging and motivating and makes my day-to-day work worthy.

I found my niche in philanthropy and the non-profit sector but I am still a young professional and still have new knowledge to gain, skill-sets to learn and dreams to make come true. I still volunteer when I can, network at every opportunity that comes my way and try to influence other young professionals and the younger generations to find their happiness and their niche. My goals are to someday make that life changing difference, but for now I can just share my story, advocate my passions and help others throughout the community.

Over the past year working at The Provident Bank Foundation has been an amazing eye opener to how a foundation can make an impact to the community. Every day brings about new stories, new challenges and successes. My niche is my adventure in the non-profit sector and I could not be any happier.

Your homework:

I leave you with a task- volunteer! It does not matter if you are able to commit to once a month, once a week or only a few times a year. As young professionals, volunteering gives you so many opportunities to network. You not only make a difference in your community but you meet a variety of people, from different walks of life and you never know who or what their connections are. I welcome you to reach out to me and happy to network with you.