How Do You Find What You Seek?
By David Liss
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, June 25, 2004; 12:17 PM
Once you have decided on your community, identify its key organizations. This can be as simple as going online and using a search engine to find organizations in your interest area.
Linda Finkle, a career and business coach with Innovative Solutions Group, suggests you get on the Internet mailing list of the organization, become a member and go to meetings. She also recommends calling people at your desired job level in the nonprofit or association. Generally, people are willing to make particular introductions and to share information.
Your target employer will probably have an annual meeting. For example, ASAE may have its annual meeting in August and its Management & Technology Conferences in December. These are excellent ways to network with association management professionals, who have all gathered for the express purpose of meeting people in their field.
Finally, check to see if any of your targets offer online listservs for their members. Listservs allow members to interact online. This is a great way to develop professional relationships and learn about your new career. Membership does have its privileges, so you may have to pay to play, so to speak, depending on the organization. For example, Women in Film and Video (WIFV), a D.C.-based non-profit, has over 1300 members including men. More than 800 members participate on the listserv to exchange information ranging from screenplay ideas to job opportunities.
Volunteering Is a Surefire Way to Get Your Foot in the Door
Betsy Johnson, executive director of the Washington Council of Agencies, suggests that you volunteer for an organization that matches your career interest. Volunteers augment permanent staff and serve on boards or governing committees of an organization. You will meet people in that organization as well as your chosen industry. Volunteering also allows you to test the waters before you take the plunge into a full time job. "Every nonprofit and most associations, have volunteer board of directors," says Johnson. "Volunteer experience counts big time in consideration for full-time jobs, and for getting referrals." She also cautions, "Give a time limit on the number of hours you can work or how many weeks or months you are willing to give. Otherwise, these well-intentioned but resource-starved organizations may inadvertently suck the life out of you."
Habitat for Humanity and Greater D.C. Cares are excellent local options for volunteering. Volunteering may not pay the rent, but it offers many opportunities to meet the right people and give back to the community.
Editor's note: This article by David Liss, was acquired by washingtonpost.com on April 30, 2003.
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