, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
I wanted to learn more about the nonprofit sector of environmental work as a potential career path. I was educated in this field and saw this opportunity with my partner, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, as a great way to get my foot in the door. I also wanted the chance to make professional connections, and I had never had an official “office job,” so I expected to learn more about what that was all about. Overall, the experience met my expectations.
The everyday work experience for what was essentially a “junior employee” of a small nonprofit requires a diverse skill set to be able to remain helpful. Learning new skills was definitely the high point, as well as learning how to operate effectively in an office environment. Also, by working with an environmental organization, I got to travel to a bunch of cool places!
For me, the biggest benefit was the connections I made, which eventually led to a salaried position within the organization I served. A job didn’t fall into my lap at the end of my service — this was only accomplished through proactively “putting myself out there.” So, I’d say don’t be afraid to send a memo to the executive director about why the organization should create a position for you. Have lunch meetings and stop by senior colleagues’ offices to chat. At the same time, be patient, a quality that helped me get through the service year and will continue to help me with what’s still to come.