Exactly three months ago, I began my internship here. Several Yellow Dog Bakery scones later, I’ve learned a thing or two about nonprofits and what it takes to do marketing for them.
All the times in college when I said I wanted to do PR for nonprofits, I really had no idea what I was talking about. Even in my first few meetings at Angel Oak, I mostly just nodded along at things everyone seemed to understand but me. This is a testament to the fact that there is more learning in doing than in reading or studying.
The same goes for life. As a part of the Raleigh Fellows program, when I’m not at work, I’m in classes, seminars, mentor meetings and roundtable discussions. All the notes I take or perspectives I hear are nothing compared to the experience of growing and maturing as a young believer entering the real world for the first time.
So as a toast to my three-month anniversary, I’m reflecting on what I’ve seen and learned about nonprofit marketing, work experience and life.
Nonprofit’s Biggest Need
Nonprofits, y’all need some project managers. And please know: they do exist. (Hi, I’m one!) Really, you just need someone who can organize the mess out of your events, your marketing plan, your CRM, your everything.
Yes, you need many other people for lots of other important things too. But many of the nonprofits we work with seem overwhelmed all the time, and as the project managing type, I have to say that I can’t relate. I just have too many lists and calendars to feel out of control. Find someone who will own things for you so you can be free to do what you do best. They’ll help you feel more like you’re swimming a long-distance race than fighting to keep your head above the water.
Work Culture & Skill Affirmation
I’ve been in many different work environments over the past few years. As an introvert, establishing a presence and owning my ideas are slow processes. Not so much with the Angel Oak crew. From the beginning, I’ve been challenged to step up to the plate and deliver. When you work with people you can tell really care about you and the work they’re doing, it makes a big difference. One of the best ways I’ve been cared for is through the affirmation of my skills.
As a young professional (can I even really call myself that yet?), I know I’m supposed to be sure of myself and confident in my abilities. But let’s be honest, most of us aren’t. The Angels, however, have taken so many opportunities to affirm the work I’m doing and make me feel my value on the team. I have never felt more appreciated than when I return a piece of collateral that I just edited and hear things like, “Wow, incredible, I can’t believe you caught that.” Literally the most basic task (and I actually love doing it, by the way), but I know that it helps a ton because they expressed it to me.
Your lesson: Make sure your employees know they’re valued. Tell them their strengths, and they’ll start performing them even better.
Yes, I know. It’s the title of a book that I’m reading for one of my classes, and I’m sure you’ve read it by now too. But gosh, this concept is just so real to me at this point in my life.
The past several months in this program have been a lot of breaking down of who I’ve made myself to be and then reforming to become who I actually am in Christ. And I think this is how the rest of life will go, which is honestly beautiful and exciting. Jim Branch says it best in his poem “Undone.”
years and years of hard work
diligently putting it all together
piece by piece
thinking all is well
progress is being made
but then you
come and scramble the whole picture
leaving pieces scattered everywhere
you smile lovingly
as I sit in the middle of the mess
knowing that I don’t know
knowing that I’m undone
and thinking to yourself
now that’s progress
Daring greatly comes out in this because it takes courage to be undone and be okay with it, to stand in the mess and say, “Here I am.” And that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far, especially in my community of ten other post-grad 20-somethings.
So I’m 1/3 of the way done with my nine-month stint here at Angel Oak. Here’s to many more months of being useful and learning everything I can, in nonprofit marketing and in life.
– Elaina Dove, Marketing Coordinator