A Career Is A Journey
For one to embark on a journey you must plant your feet down and look firmly toward the destination. The destination for me was to have a fully fledged career advocating for issues that mattered to my community, creating a movement for justice and equity as well as leaving a legacy for those ahead of me.
My path to becoming a professional in the nonprofit industry was one of determination, hard-work and patience. As a first generation student leaving college transitioning into the workforce I had to be precise on what my beginning steps were if I wanted to get a foundation of experience. I have had lived-experience then had acquired field experience as I continued to working on initiatives and project’s with different organizations and their teams.
Getting A Job
Building A Tribe (Network)
Getting a Job begins with research and referrals. I found that expanding my network of professionals or aspiring organizers in the field had given me an advantage I would have not had otherwise. One mustard seed can grow into a tree, same mindset with your network and career.
You never know who you may be able to be of service to or who may be able to help you in your career.
Resumes & Interviews
Creating an appealing resume was easy in this digital age where you can find many pleasing templates from websites such as Canva, etc. Combining this with following best resume practices and adding any experience where I learned it, began to create an official resume. If chosen for an interview I would prepare beforehand with either research or being aware and complete with my values and standards prior to an interview. If the goals, values and corporate culture are aligned, your expertise will become an asset to the company.
Ageism & Experience
Ageism was a struggle I had to overcome due to the fact that many times I wasn’t the most experienced in the room but when my passion and hard-work overflowed that helped me displace the experience gap. Open jobs depend on the market and as many know the market is very volatile, sometimes being at the right place and right time is what it takes to be hired.
Working In A Job
Starting At The Bottom
My first job in the field was more of a support role to a team that was already established. I took this as a learning opportunity to grasp the concepts of how to be a functioning part in an already built machine, but also to understand all the parts that make the machine function properly. There are learning curves within a job but externally many are faced with problems outside the workplace.
A Day-To-Day Support System
For me personally, I had to face challenges of completing my everyday role as an advocate with less family support. Ironically from the core of what communities are based on, family. Family can be supportive of your overall dreams but less helpful on the day to day. Self reliance was a key lesson learned throughout the course of my career and still continues to be. I still rely on my community and family, when it is possible, but remembering that every champion has to practice discipline alone is what I did.
Distribution of Power
Youth workers and adult workers are on the same team but compensated financially on a different scale. Sometimes power distribution in companies can be annoying. The workforce system is built a certain way to maintain itself, self-awareness of your placement within this system helps. I view myself as successful but success is ongoing. My belief is not to chase success or even maintain it, but if I am consistent in my values and work it will produce an impact that will leave a positive outcome.
Tips For Standing Out
Beyond my initial education in college I knew I had to learn more. I participated in many trainings including facilitation, diversity and equity trainings just to name a few. These trainings were vital in gaining some of the knowledge and expertise I was lacking. There are many trainings that are offered by community organizations that vary in topic that I would encourage more people to participate in.
Finding A Mentor
Recently, I had an Entrepreneur mentor through a program that was valuable. This mentorship helped me reshape my focus and perspective on entrepreneurship and organizing. I am always seeking to learn from leaders who are already established and have experience. You can save a lot of time and mistakes by hearing the advice from an elder.
Extra Hands On Experience
Working directly in the communities impacted by problems that mirrored my own lived experience was very helpful in preparing me to take on the responsibility for myself and others around me. Advocacy and organizing, similar to leadership and success, is an ongoing attribute that you have to work on day to day.
Intentional Self-Improvement & Personal Inventory
Working on myself daily helped me improve my attitude toward the workforce and helped me carry on throughout my journey.
I will continue to lay the framework to enhance and write my own story and outcome. Youth Workforce Voice is important to shed light on the stories of the new generation and inspire others to show that they are not alone, everyday people all have leadership within their everyday lives!