6 things I’ve learned in my new job

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This is a pretty personal post.

All my posts come from personal experience and opinions, but this one isn’t like that.

This isn’t about fundraising or philanthropy.

This is about my new job. 

Have you started a new job recently? Are you thinking of starting one? It’s not for the faint of heart, is it?

If you read my post on direct response best practices, or you follow me on Twitter, then you know I love my new gig! But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been challenging.

We’ve all been where I am: somewhere between loving life and feeling way out of your comfort zone. The important thing is to tune into the lessons you’re learning along the way. And in case they might be helpful to you, I thought it was worth sharing my lessons.

#1 — Show up every day, smiling & ready to work

This simple thing cannot be understated. It’s great advice that I received from my old boss when I started my current job. I was feeling a little insecure in my second week and she said, “Every day you show up smiling and ready to work, the people who hired you are seeing the return on their investment.” You can’t know everything right away, but you can show everyone that you’re trying.

#2 — Get comfortable being uncomfortable

This was – and is – my biggest challenge. I’m the type of person who wants to be the best! I don’t care how that sounds, it’s just the truth. But when you start a job, you’re not the best. You’re new. Embrace it. Because when you do, you can physically feel learning and growth happen. If you fight it, it’ll take you longer to get where you want to be.

#3 — Be flexible

Something that will help you do that is to be flexible. Don’t expect to know everything right away and be flexible in the ways you get there. For example, even the ways in which you organize yourself! My new job requires organization like I’ve never experienced before and I’ve already tried my hand at 3+ methods in my first three months. Each tweak makes things a bit better. I don’t know if I’ve gotten there yet, but I try to adapt and modify and be flexible, and it seems to help.

#4 — Mentally prepare & protect yourself

This one is crucial. I read this awesome series called My Morning Routine and one person they interviewed recently (I wish I could share an exact quote, but I can’t find it!) talked about how we push too many things to the evening. We sleep, we work, and then – if we have time – we do something for ourselves in the evening. This person’s routine was all about mentally preparing and protecting herself in the morning for the stress of the day. I love that, and that’s something I’ve tried to incorporate into my life with this new job. I get up early, I work out as many mornings during the week as I can handle, I always take at least 30 minutes for coffee and a healthy breakfast (usually an hour), and I leave to work early enough that I avoid traffic and arrive before most of my colleagues so I can gather myself together before all the work begins. It’s a way of preparing a shield against the craziness to come, and it works!

#5 — Don’t spread yourself too thin

If your new job is accompanied by a move to a new city like mine was, you might be tempted to get involved with new things or struggle to keep up old things (I’m talking volunteering, board membership, that sort of thing). Be careful here. I think we’ve all got to have something outside of work to be involved with, but I’ve been trying to streamline my “extracurriculars” since I’m committed to work and don’t want to get overwhelmed. I unfortunately had to drop one thing I’m involved with, and I’ve had to say no to a few others, but I’m also keeping up a few that I’m currently involved with, too! I don’t want life to be only work, but I also don’t want there to be too much on my plate right now.

#6 — SPEAK UP!

All of this is stuff YOU can do, but sometimes you might need something from your new employer, and that’s okay, too. Are you feeling like you were onboarded well? Did you get good training and orientation? No? Well don’t sit around feeling overwhelmed; tell someone! Be honest about what you need, what you’re missing, etc. Everyone’s busy so getting a new hire doesn’t mean the work stops, but they do owe it to you to bring you up to speed. It’s nice if you don’t have to ask them, but if you need to, DO! Your success is up to you!

Good luck!

P.S. I’m launching an e-book on Mid-Level Giving! Want to be the first to get it? Sign up for my newsletter! Click here to sign up!

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Written by Maeve Strathy


Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in fundraising for over eight years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
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Career Connections: teaching students about fundraising

I have to admit that this week I didn’t have the ease of inspiration that I usually do for writing my biweekly Friday posts.  Lately I’ve been so busy and have been lucky enough to have some incredible guest bloggers come in with their ideas, so when faced with coming up with one of my own… I uncharacteristically faltered.  However, I was saved by the fact that every once in a while I save a draft of a blog post on something while it’s fresh on my mind and figure that I’ll post it sometime in the future.  That’s why today I’m writing about an event I participated in back in November 2012 at my alma mater, Wilfrid Laurier University: Career Connections.

Career Connections was a combination of a career fair and a networking event: current university students had the opportunity to visit “exhibit tables” hosted by alumni where they could learn about a specific career they were interested in, or network with alumni in diverse occupations to inspire their own career paths.  Students were encouraged to ask questions about the alumnus’ current career, industry, and the path they took to get where they are today.  We – the alumni – were invited to share advice we have for students interested in pursuing a career in our field.  We were also encouraged to bring information about our organization and any other information that might be helpful for students thinking about a career in our industry.

Firstly, I was delighted to be asked to participate.  Being that I work in alumni relations, and organize events somewhat like this one, it’s always fun to be on the other side of the event.  Secondly, I was so grateful that – especially at a business-focused school like Laurier – the organizers were making an effort to include careers like fundraising, something that isn’t likely to spring into a 4th year student’s head when they’re thinking of what they’ll do after they graduate.  Thirdly, I was excited to have the chance to share the joys of my field with soon-to-be university graduates!!!

When I go to events like this, or networking events in general, my mission is simple: truly connect with a few people.  I’m not a mingle and small talk kind of girl; I would much rather invest in deep and meaningful conversation with 2-3 people than leave with 15 business cards of faces I can’t recall.  So at Career Connections, I didn’t pressure myself to have a line-up at my table, just a few students who I could have some good conversations with.  Thankfully, that’s what I’ve got.

I had three students come to my table and really stop to learn about what it is I do.  When asked by a student what I love most about my job, I said that every day is different; one day I could be out in Halifax hosting an alumni event, the next day I could be quietly working on a young alumni solicitation letter, and the next I could be calling a major gift prospect.

One student said that he was interested in education, but not in being a teacher.  I said educational fundraising is an amazing way to be involved in education if it’s something you’re passionate about; you might not be on the front lines teaching kids, but you’re actively working to raise funds so that the teachers can do what they do with the best resources available.

On the same vein as every day being different, I spoke to another student about how fundraising engages so many different “muscles” in you; there’s lots of opportunities to build and enhance interpersonal skills, many times I find myself using the critical thinking skills I learned in university to analyze fundraising communications materials, and when it comes to making the ask, it’s a great challenge every time!  You have to think hard to align the needs of the institution/organization with the passions and interests of the prospect.  It’s tough work, but rewarding, and fun!!!

Career Connections was a great experience, and I hope to have more opportunities in the future to share with others the joys of the field I love: fundraising.

 

Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Email