Recently, I wrote a series of posts to really target the theme of career empowerment:
- Take Back Your 9 to 5: Develop a Personal Mission Statement
- Take Back Your 9 to 5: Cultivate a Slash Career in the Nonprofit Sector
- Take Back Your 9 to 5: Ditch the Martyr Lifestyle
Each of the posts talked about an aspect of improving or enhancing your nonprofit career. But those are just some ways you can become empowered in this field. During this Saturday’s Women Rule Meet up in DC, seven awesome ladies sat around a table in a tea shop talking about so many ways we struggle and succeed in our work. I wanted to share one thread of our conversation that came from Gabriela Cadena, who is one of the most positive people I know.
Gabriela said that we need to see ourselves as co-creators in our careers. Our employers and even the nonprofit field itself are only one part of the relationship that we enter into when we come to work. And we should seek to take responsibility for that relationship. I took a step back in my mind when I heard that, because I meet so many young nonprofit professionals through my blog, at conferences, through my day job…and we have a lot of gripes with the nonprofit sector. Most of the time, our attitude is that our bosses are doing us dirty with these low salaries, our supervisors give us projects that are impossible to complete during regular working hours, and our clients need so much more than we can provide. No wonder so many talented people end up quitting before they’ve had a chance to make a difference. We give up because we don’t think about the other possibilities. We forget that everything is negotiable.
Gabriela reminds us that we have to stop blaming other people or institutions or the culture of our sector for what we don’t like about our careers. If we can start to think of ourselves as co-creators of each relationship that we are a part of, it can lead us to more creative ways of structuring the way we work, so that it works for us.
Rosetta Thurman is an emerging nonprofit leader of color working and living in the Washington, DC area. She holds a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management and blogs about nonprofit leadership and management issues at Perspectives From the Pipeline.