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The formative months: Three ways to set yourself up for long-term success in your job

It’s said that the formative years of human beings is 0-5 years, during which the brain is growing most rapidly and is extra vulnerable to trauma and stress.  It is during this time that parents need to be hypervigilant, ensuring that their children have the right nutrition, are exposed to learning opportunities and given the freedom to move around, play and test their environment.

I want to suggest that there is also a formative time for employees in a new position. Based only on my own experience, I would argue that this critical time period is 0-12 months.  In many ways, we are just like newborns when we start a new job: we have to adjust to a new environment, learn a new language (or, at least, a hundred new acronyms) and experience a steep learning curve. We are in a vulnerable position, one where we have to assimilate into the culture we find ourselves in rather than stake our claim or make our mark on the world. We have to crawl before we can walk.

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Balancing a nonprofit job and self-care

It is not surprising to anybody in the nonprofit world that we all end up doing a lot more than what our job description initially entailed. In many cases, organizations have too much work to get done with not enough hands to help, so we all end up pitching in. I am the first one to admit that I usually have a hard time saying “no” when my boss asks me to take on extra projects, or to take over projects from other staff members. It took me a long time to be able to say “I’m sorry, but I can’t”. I don’t say it often, but the first time those words came out of my mouth I panicked. What if my boss was mad because I said no? What if they thought I was incompetent?

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The gifts of giving back: 5 reasons I volunteer

I’ve always been a high achiever, so naturally when I learned that I could earn extra credit for doing volunteer work related to my degree, I seized the opportunity. Within a matter of weeks, I landed an open position at the Walker Art Center that was a great fit for my hectic class schedule and love of contemporary art.

It didn’t take long for me to catch the volunteering bug.

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Coming back from failure

Last year, I was asked to present a workshop session on social media for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Essentials Conference.  I couldn’t have been more confident. I had presented before, knew social media marketing well, and overall felt like it would be a breeze.

And then the session happened. 

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Tales of a first-time project manager

I recently managed a Communications project for YNPN-TC with a group of badass young professionals. Our task seemed simple: update an existing document with YNPN-TC’s brand guidelines and create four new resource guides with social media best practices. I am going to reflect on the process of managing this project, what was challenging, and some personal and professional growth that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my career.

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We need a new model for positive social impact

The further I get in my career, the more I catch myself processing and integrating within myself all the experiences I’ve had so far – and then drawing conclusions about what it all means, and what is most important for me to work on next. 

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Everyone Leads: Top 5 leadership lessons from a mid-career professional

I have been working in nonprofits for almost a decade. I can’t believe I am saying that out loud! Now that you all know I am getting old (not too old), I wanted to share a few insights on lessons learned. In the nonprofit sector, it can sometimes feel like you are giving too much of yourself. Program participants are draining you emotionally, someone is out-hustling you at work, money is tight at your organization, the community needs more than you have to offer and there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. I most certainly have felt all of these things and more. What I have learned from my time in nonprofits is that Everyone Leads.

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Lucky 13

There is so much I’ve been able to take away from the various nonprofits I’ve been involved with. I have worked several jobs outside the nonprofit social sector that were enjoyable, but when I found nonprofits whose missions I could align with, I found careers.

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Nonprofits, why do you need an audit? An auditor’s advice.

Is your nonprofit organization required to have a financial statement audit for the first time? If so, the information below will help you gain an understanding of what to do before, during and after the audit.

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Tinder for the apocalypse

I was recently told that I am a negative person. As a Positive Person™ I was, of course, appalled by the idea. Faced with this shocking news, I contorted my face into what could be graciously interpreted as a smile and objected with good humor. While this came as a blow to the innermost core of my being, the biggest challenge was that I was locked in a cabin with this person. Or rather, it would have been, had my close friends and partner not been there to back me up with the reality check I needed.

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