We asked the apprentices in nonprofit management to tell us more about themselves, their work, and their future plans. Here are one apprentice’s reflections on what the program has been like so far.
What attracted you to the apprentice program?
I grew up in a household that emphasized social justice. From my Unitarian Universalist church to my mom’s job as executive director of a housing nonprofit my parents directed our family’s life towards helping others. Therefore, my goals have always centered around working in the nonprofit sector. So, when I saw posters advertising a nonprofit apprenticeship, I thought the job would be a perfect fit.
Why are you doing the program?
I want to learn what working in a nonprofit is actually like. My experience working at this nonprofit will inform my job search after graduation.
What background or skills do you bring to the program?
I am hardworking, reliable and energetic. These are not the most specific skills, but they have been invaluable to me in this position. As an apprentice, I am not expected to have the particular knowledge to complete tasks, but instead to figure out what needs to get done to complete my projects.
What about the Chamber of Commerce’s mission inspires you?
The chamber seeks to enhance economic development in the Grinnell area. In a town of 9,000 people, the chamber has the capacity to enact real change. By bringing people and businesses to town, they create a sustainable city. From RAGBRAI to Grinnell Games, Friday Fests to fundraisers, the chamber helps plan dozens of events annually that enhance life in Grinnell. Other nonprofits turn to the chamber for so many of their events because the chamber is a central resource for all.
What drew you to the chamber?
The chamber’s over-reaching goal of making Grinnell a great place to live is magnetic. I wanted to be in the heart of Grinnell and reach as many people as I could. The chamber is the perfect place to do that.
What kinds of projects do you do?
I have reserved hotels and housed the hundreds of athletes and coaches coming to Grinnell for the NCAA Division III Indoor Track National Meet in March, I have helped plan the United Way Grinnell Fall Kickoff Campaign, I have written marketing grants to support the Family Aquatic Center and the Drake Library, I send out a weekly newsletter to over 3,000 addresses every week, I answer questions and give a brief tour to visitors who enter the chamber (which is located in the Jewel Box Bank).
What kind of skills have you been learning?
I have been learning grant-writing, project follow up, customer service, organization and attention to detail.
The Impact Her Apprenticeship Has Had on Her
How has having a close working relationship with your director impacted you and your future education plans?
This job has clarified how an executive eirector of a nonprofit spends her time. I have had the chance to see her long-term goals for the town of Grinnell and have seen her implement specific steps to achieve the improvements she hopes for. Seeing Angela, a mother of one, handle her job at work and at home has been very informative. She is able to prioritize her family life without sacrificing her job. This job has already been the best education for entering the nonprofit sector. Therefore, I am more committed to working for a number of years before returning to school to get a Masters degree.
How has the apprenticeship program changed your perception of Grinnell? Nonprofit work? Your future?
I was fortunate enough to know the city of Grinnell very well before this apprenticeship. My dad grew up in Grinnell and my grandmother lived in town until she passed away four years ago so I loved this town before the apprenticeship! My job has given me a greater insight into the numerous events that happen every week and the variety of businesses in town. The chamber is a rare non profit that devotes very little energy to self-sustaining fundraising. Therefore, I have gotten to see the nuts and bolts of a nonprofit without the burden of raising funds. The grant-writing and various organizational tasks as well as the outreach to businesses in town has been very informative of how nonprofits operate.
My career goals continue to be focused on community-building through public health, but this job has given me a new found appreciation for small-town chambers and the amazing and often unrecognized work that they do to build a community. I appreciate the opportunity to advance my career goals while doing my best to aid the Grinnell community.