Hi everyone! I’m Rachel, the newest addition to The Niche Movement Team. I am a sophomore at the George Washington University studying Journalism and Mass Communication.
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams
I’m knowledgeable, but not an expert and do not consider myself one. I have been a mentor and a mentee and I try to use my leadership skills daily. You may have read previous posts of mine how I found my niche, my passion in the non-profit/foundation sector. Since then I have been able to utilize a lot of my skill sets learned from my mentor, my boss. The past 2 months, I have had the privilege to mentor a summer intern at the Foundation I work at. Even before she started, just looking at Jennifer Nativo's resume, she had shown enthusiasm and passion for the non-profit sector. When she started, just on her first day she proved knowledgeable and had more than enough skill sets for the job, she was also eager to take on any task, with guidance at first. Her interests and passions were similar to mine and we just clicked. Even several years apart in age, I could see myself in her and knew she has potential for great things.
So what does this back-story have to do with leadership? It has to do by leading by example. Since the first day I was able to sit with Jenn and teach her our database and grant funding process. I was also able to work with her on creating press releases, social media posts, preparing reports and making sure she understood the ins and outs of the Foundation. Three things I took into account while working with Jenn:
- Be an example. I, personally, am a visual learner and I am very aware not everyone learns the same, however when mentoring and leading Jenn to help her be successful, I tried explain everything visually so she could understand everything fully. I made sure to sit with her at her desk and work on the computer and show examples or demonstrate any task or correction.
- Be a resource. I love reading so any time I come across an article, a blog post, a book I ALWAYS share it with colleagues and friends who I think it will be useful to. I started doing this with Jenn. I’d say once a week or sometimes a few times a week I’d send her something, usually relating to millennial’s that will be resourceful to her. ( This is actually how I got her connected to The Niche Movement & got her reading the blog J )
- Always listen. Even though this is listed as number three, this is one of the most important things I took into account, to stop and listen. If it is listening to a question, an idea or just taking the time to listen to Jenn’s insights and thoughts, before taking action or reacting.
These were something my boss did with me when I first started and to be able to pass along this knowledge to Jenn has been a great opportunity for the both of us. Additionally, I always made sure to take time out of my day to make sure she was on track or understood the why, what and how to a task and to be available for questions. As Jenn continues and finishes school, I made sure to let her know to continue to keep in contact and any help I can be as she continues her path to finding her niche, to just give me a call.
A mentor/mentee relationship is a two–way street.
So how did my efforts, leading by example, benefit Jenn? I asked her to share her story. Jen is a small town girl from New Jersey who loves bumming at the beach, eating, and traveling. She is a Junior at Fairfield University majoring in business management with a minor in French. Jenn loves volunteering her time for others and therefore wears her heart on her sleeve. Nonetheless, she is a driven person and wants to become a boss one day! Connect with Jenn on LinkedIn!
Working for a nonprofit foundation requires skills and taking on responsibilities that are in no way a shortage of the expertise needed to run a corporate business.
Over the past two months about, I’ve had the fortune of interning for The Provident Bank Foundation, a private nonprofit foundation located in New Jersey that taught me how business ethics, professionalism and passion all drive an individual's success in his or her career. My supervisors, Jane Kurek, Executive Director and Shaunna Murphy, Foundation Associate, who also became my mentors, opened my eyes to the not-for-profit sector in a way that has shaped my perspective not only on the nonprofit world, but the "real" world in general. Taking in a first-time intern like me, there is no doubt they had plenty to show me.
Jane and Shaunna welcomed me with enthusiasm and tons of different tasks. I was writing press releases, managing the Foundation database, and jumping right into grant application reviews. Before I could realize the impact this experience had on me, I was sealing letters of approval and delivering them to their recipients- making an impact that touched lives other than my own. I was truly humbled.
Overall, my experience gave me a few pointers about working for a foundation:
- Take advantage of your resources. Nonprofit work is all about networking. Talk to as many people as you can, exchange business cards, and reach out- you never know what someone can do for you or what you can do for them.
- Be curious. There is no such thing as a stupid question, but there is such thing as dumb silence. Do plenty of research because there is so much involved in funding besides wanting to help. Making an important decision requires doing a background check and asking all of the important questions.
- Prioritize. Being a funder requires a good multi-tasker and decision maker. Especially depending on the size of the foundation, reviewing applications and doing the research takes time. Meet the deadlines and stay organized.
- Be memorable, and remember everything. As said earlier, working for a not-for-profit comes with expanding your network of connections. As essential as it is to talk to everyone that you can, always remember who you're talking to, and make them remember you, too.
- Make sure it's something you're passionate about. This goes for any career you find yourself in, but in particular, if you find it rewarding to do good for others and be a community leader, then working for a nonprofit foundation might peak your interest.
"I am on the road to finding my niche. Trying something new has opened my eyes up to the endless opportunities that await." -Jenn Nativo
Establishing a career as a young professional is no easy feat. Rather, this goal is actually a lengthy journey filled with self-discovery, experimentation, and lots of trial and error. Coming out of college, graduate school, and/or the military is a milestone in itself. Yet, most of us take little time to bask in the glory of achievement of everything we just conquered. Instead, we move straight ahead onto the next milestone, which for many of us is establishing a lifelong dream career.
What most of us fail to realize early on is that it is very rare to discover what you want to do for the rest of your life at age twenty-two, twenty-five, or even thirty. We may spend the majority of our twenties job hopping and job shopping, determined to find the perfect match; and that's okay! Cut yourself a little slack. Accepting that your twenties is a chance to truly unravel your passions, discover yourself, and experiment along the way is bound to make you enjoy the job hunt a little more. Establishing your dream career will come in due time, but it does take time.
Here are ten practical, logical career tips for the young professional attempting to establish a career:
- There is no clearly defined pathway to success. Sorry, it's not quite that simple. Even if you went to college and successfully earned a bachelor's degree in marine biology, for example, there's no guarantee you're going to land a job as a professional research coordinator or go on to earn your PhD. Of course, there's a chance, but there is no clearly defined pathway before you that will lead you straight to this success. You have to make it yourself. Your degree is a stepping stone. It demonstrates you are academically qualified to apply for a position, but it by no means bridges you directly to an established career. You're going to have to work for the job you want to earn your royalties and rewards.
- Begin making connections early on. Many of us find ourselves qualified for little better than entry level work right out of college. Even when your first job or two seems like a complete waste of time and isn't even remotely connected to what you majored in, learn to network. Networking is a powerful tool that makes lasting connections. You may encounter new faces during company-wide meetings and discover someone from a different department that shares your employment values and goals. Introduce yourself! Invite him or her out to grab coffee during your lunch break to start a conversation and see if this new connection will open doors for you. Sometimes it really is about who you know and it could make all the difference.
- Cooperating with others is a continuous part of career development. It's very common to encounter challenging colleagues, bosses, and even clients we don't quite get along with. Sometimes it's a power struggle, other times it has to do with ego, expectations, and/or baggage. Whichever scenario fits your situation, understand this happens at any job — even your dream career. In the workplace these personality dynamics shape the relationships between everyone. Learn to work with these types of characters because chances are they won't ever disappear. Making peace with your differences will ultimately improve production and polish your career development.
- Do your best to stay at a job for at least one year. Starting off in entry level roles is often degrading and miserable. Most everyone has been there, between the dumping ground of miserable tasks that has become your to-do list to the lack of recognition for your hard work, it comes with the territory of being a young newbie in the office. Even if it's a struggle to get out of bed in the morning, the job you have is better than the alternative: unemployment. Do your best to push through for at least one year. By doing so you'll learn a lot about perseverance and you won't have to worry about explaining any significant unemployment gaps when you begin interviewing for something better and more fulfilling down the road.
- Finding your dream job is a process of elimination. Most of us don't decide at age five we want to become a doctor and actually grow up to pursue it. As a child, any job can seem enchanting and feasible. As a young professional it's important to remember that finding your career niche is a process of elimination. You probably won't wake up one morning with a lightening bolt of inspiration striking you. It could happen, but more often than not you'll learn what you want to do for a living by trial and error. Sample different jobs during your twenties. Try knocking out a year or so at a couple different spots before setting into a career you love. You may think a job reads as the perfect fit on paper but actually going through the daily motions of the job's responsibilities could shock you. This is a great time to look into internships, as well. They require less commitment and formality, and give you a taste of the job before you sign your contract. Remember, it's a process of elimination.
- Remain open minded. If you don't really know what career niche you belong to then there is no harm in being open minded to pretty much anything. Coming out of college with little to no experience is the perfect time for you to experiment with different job opportunities. Even if you have never considered becoming a marketing specialist, research coordinator, admissions counselor, or financial analyst, allow yourself some time to experiment. You may discover skills and talents that you never even knew you had. Be open minded to any possibility that comes your way.
- You will probably fail, but get back up again. There may come a point during the early stages of your career that you find yourself making mistakes. You know what? Brush it off. With any job there comes a list of rules, regulations, and expectations to abide by. If you slip up once or twice all it proves is that you're only human, just like the rest of us. No one is perfect. We all fail at something, but it doesn't mean we are failures. It means we are learning. There's a learning curve with any new job and we have to take risks to become better. Not taking risks is risky. Allow yourself to slip up but get right back up on your feet again.
- You are so much better than you know. At work you are going to be tested. You will be purposefully put in situations that will challenge your instincts and force you to act quickly. Use these opportunities to demonstrate your resilience. When you're new on the job and your colleagues and boss are busy with their own agendas, things will happen that will require you to act off the cuff. If you find yourself bombarded with customers as a receptionist with no back up, politely ask clients to take a seat while you check-in your customers one-by-one. Or, thank everyone for their patience. Courtesy goes a long way and you will come out on the other side so much more resilient and better than you ever knew.
- Adopt a "what can I give" rather than a "what can I get" mindset. We work to earn a living. Our money pays our bills, cares for our families, and if we are lucky allows us to take vacations and buy the things we want in life. Even though we are looking to get the things we want, we must learn to give first. Adopting a "what can I give" mindset improves your attitude. Consider the types of skills, talents, experiences, and unique traits you can offer a company. You have to give before you can receive. Once an organization sees all of the wonderful things you can do for them, they will be more apt to offer you things in return, like the dream title, salary, and benefits you've been waiting for.
- Follow your pursuit of happiness. You will learn in time that work is about finding your craft and polishing it every single day. If your real passion is writing, art, music, travel, and more, follow it. Determine your pursuit of happiness and see where it guides you. There's no greater reward than loving what you do and doing what you love. Truly being passionate about your work shines through and others do notice. Once you bring that attitude to the table, there's no stopping your professional development and subsequent success. Everything will fall into place.
These top ten practical career tips are essential for every young professional searching for their dream career. There is no magical recipe that will establish your career for you. Rather, finding your career niche must come from within. Only you know the type of work that inspires you and makes you happy. There will be ups and downs along the bumpy road it may take to get there, but never give up. Perseverance and passion payoff big time!
I was 18-years-old when I got my first job as a cashier at a local burger joint. I showed up to work almost every day after school in a Super Duper Burger t-shirt, jeans and black non-slip shoes and worked until around 11:00 pm. Since then, I’ve had my fair share of work experience; anywhere from administrative positions to marketing internships. Each job varied in its tasks and responsibilities, however, one aspect remained the same: the rigidity and hierarchical structure of the companies. This aspect of the workplace is what drove me to look for a small startup for my final summer internship. Over the past month I have had the opportunity to work with The Niche Movement, an organization created by Kevin O’Connell, and have discovered why so many new companies (as well as some more established ones) are adopting a more lax work environment. Here are the top 5 reasons I think everyone should work for a startup once in their lives:
Wear Multiple Hats
As a member of a newly established team, you have the opportunity to play within your formal role. You can take on as much or as little as you want and who knows, maybe that extra responsibility will launch you to a higher position.
Initiate Your Own Projects
When you’re in a smaller working environment, you can better gauge a company’s needs and take the initiative to find a solution to those problems. Taking on more than what’s specified in your contract shows both your competence as an individual and also your value to the company as a whole.
Relaxed Working Hours
With the level of technology that is available, people have the ability to work within a variety of conditions, whether that be from home or from across the country. Applications, such as Buffer and Hootsuite, give people the freedom to schedule the publication for their work ahead of time so they don’t have to be chained to their devices, on call at all times. Many startups (including The Niche Movement) take advantage of this and allow employees the freedom to choose their own hours.
Less Rigid Organizational Structure
At smaller companies, employees at every level work and interact closely. Not only does this decrease the formality of office interactions, but it also increases the ease of communication and the clarity/transparency within the organization.
Accelerated Opportunity for Growth
Startups are known to have a tendency for rapid growth. This may mean that the company is constantly bringing on new employees, but it also means that those within the company have greater opportunities for professional growth.
Hey there, it's Robyn! One of the greatest things about living in Washington, D.C., in addition to the close proximity to some of the best museums and monuments, is that there’s never a shortage of opportunities; from working on the Hill, volunteering at a non-profit, to helping out at a startup, there's something for everyone. That was an enticing reason alone for deciding to go to school just steps away from the White House. I knew that in today’s job market it was critical to get experience while still in school, for the sake of both my resume and my own personal insight. That’s why I decided to take my first official paid internship position at the Niche Movement this summer. Despite only having worked with the team for a few weeks, I’ve already gained plenty of valuable knowledge and experience, which brings me to the point of this post.
If you're in college, doing an internship is an incredibly valuable opportunity. Maybe you’ve been debating between working at a local restaurant and getting an internship. Perhaps you’ve been eyeing a pretty cool position in your city but for some reason have hesitated to send in your application. I’ve learned from both my own experience and others’ stories that interning is an absolute must-do, especially if you’re in college. Here are my top 5 reasons for why you should do an internship:
1. It helps you figure out what career you want to pursue.
Internships are one of the best, quickest ways to learn in-depth about a career field. While school is incredibly valuable, that's something you can’t do by simply sitting in a classroom. Perhaps you've gotten an internship at J.P. Morgan, based on the idea that you'd like to go into investment banking, but soon discover that you hate everything that comes with a job in that field. After interning at a local startup company, you may realize that entrepreneurship and technology better align with your passions and talents. Just like taking classes in different disciplines, interning in varying career fields helps reveal your true interests. More importantly, it allows you to cross off careers and jobs that you've realized might not be for you after all.
2. It looks good on your resume.
I'm going to be honest, one of the reasons why I decided to finally take the plunge and start interning this summer was to make my resume more appealing. According to a study by Southwestern University in Texas, students who completed at least one internship during their time in college were 13 percent more likely to obtain a full-time employment than those who did not. The truth is that an increasing number of seemingly “entry level” jobs require a couple of years of experience, which is why it's a good idea to start raising that experience meter early on. And there's no better way to do that than having an internship. While most students seem to intern in their junior and senior years of college, it doesn't hurt to start working during the first two years of college. Some companies even hire highly-qualified high schoolers! Starting early will also help open up more options come graduation in terms of job opportunities, cool companies to work at, and places to live in.
3. It’s an excuse to live in a new city.
Although I live in DC to go to college for most of the year, going to work here is a far different experience from going to school here. Within the last month I've already seen so much more of the city than I did in the past year. I've also gotten much friendlier with the metro system, in addition to becoming more comfortable with visiting new places alone and exploring different neighborhoods. I'm looking forward to interning in either New York or San Francisco (or maybe even a different country!) before I graduate.
4. It teaches you new things about yourself.
Some of the most helpful things I’ve learned in the past few weeks include my strengths and weaknesses, as well as my career-related likes and dislikes. I’ve learned that I love creating visual content, whether it’s quote cards or other images to put out on social media. On the other hand, I don’t love doing social engagement as much, which means going on Twitter and Facebook. This whole process of learning little facts about myself on the way is, in my opinion, the most powerful aspect of interning. Similarly to what I said in Reason #2, I’m able to save myself time and energy working jobs I might not enjoy in the future to instead focus on projects I’m passionate about.
5. It’s a fantastic way to meet people.
From your boss and fellow interns, to other employees, you'll meet people that you wouldn't have otherwise crossed paths with through your internship. And you don't have to limit meeting new people to the workplace. There's always events, conferences, informational interviews, and tons of other networking opportunities you can find on places like Eventbrite, Creative Mornings, and Meetup. I actually recently attended a workshop in DC through General Assembly, and ended up meeting an industry leader who I'm sure will be a great mentor for me into the future!