Oh, to be young. If any YNPs are anything like me, the nonprofit job search is daunting. I find myself jumping to the “Requirements” section of every job posting to find the dreaded “years of experience required” before getting too excited about a potential position. If a job requires three years…. I’m golden, five years…. I’ll give it a go, six-plus years.... Forget about it!
This is consistently how I would end up evaluating myself, by “years of experience.” Every employer wants experience, and so does every young job hunter! It’s a vicious cycle that has baffled me for the past 3 years – and the only thing I’m trying to do is find a job that will launch me into the nonprofit sector and give me the chance to change lives. Slowly I’ve begun to realize how much I am limiting myself by focusing on what I don’t have on my resume, as opposed to what I do. It wasn’t until the Breakfast of Champions lead by Sara Dziuk, Executive Director at College Possible Twin Cities, that I fully realized my job search method was severely flawed.
Sara was consistently the youngest in her workplace and was a leader to many who were much older (and probably more experienced) than she. How did she manage to land a job with less than the required experience? Fully aware that her age was the concern of possible employers, she addressed it directly, instead of allowing herself to become discouraged by a simple “required” number. Sara owns who she is: she knows she is young, but she also knows that she is capable of proving herself worthy and capable of the position no matter what.
I’m grateful for the morning I dragged myself out of bed to join fellow YNPNers and listen to Sara’s journey. Sara began by distributing marketing materials and advanced all the way to Executive Director of a growing, nation-wide nonprofit. That morning I realized that I should not be limited by my lack of years, but that I should be proud of all I have accomplished in a short period of time – as we all should be. As Sara said, “Own who you are!” We don’t need to pretend to be better than we are; we are already great! We just need to demand the opportunity to prove it.
We are young; that is our strength.vWhen doubt creeps in and begins to weaken your spirit, push right back and remind yourself of how skilled, smart, and valued you are. We truly are all in this together, we all have struggles, yet we will all persevere if we remember that years are just numbers - it’s our stories that prove our experiences. Share your story!