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6 Tips for Successfully Starting A Remote Position During a Pandemic

When ringing in the New Year on December 31st, 2019, many people joked about having 20/20 vision. However, no one could truly predict what 2020 would bring. Did you have your graduation canceled? Was an internship put on hold due to the pandemic? Have you spent far too many hours alone with your pet (who is likely still wondering what the heck is going on)? The ongoing pandemic has undoubtedly challenged all of us in different ways, and for some, we have had (or will have) our first taste of starting a job or internship remotely during a pandemic. So...what now and how, you ask? Read on for a few (hopefully) helpful tidbits of advice for navigating this uncharted territory from someone who’s walked the walk!

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Our Opposite Future

I’ve heard the writing advice that to emphasize a moment in a scene, spend more time on it. I’ve found myself digging into the pieces of my day that are different from pre-COVID times, the parts I’ve come to love that are slower and more deliberate. I’m spending more time thinking about these moments, in anticipation that they will likely go away or evolve into something else.

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Vulnerability Isn't A Sign of Weakness, Despite What You May Have Been Taught

All my life, I’ve been taught that you have to “be strong” either for yourself or for the people around you. Showing emotion made people look at you with pity and treat you like you were a child.

“Awww, look at Alishia crying again.”

“You’re always so dramatic.”

“If you want to get ahead, you have to be tough and not let people know they got to you.”

“Why can’t you just let it roll off your back?”

I know I’m not alone in hearing these things. In the 2016 election, we heard time after time about Hilary Rodham Clinton’s temperament and whether or not she was friendly enough to be President. The assumption is, she’s a woman and all soft and squishy, she can’t be strong enough, be “professional” enough to be an effective leader. The assumption is that showing vulnerability at all is a weakness. Well, my friend, if you haven’t heard this before, let me tell you that being able to show vulnerability is not a weakness. It’s a strength.

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Cultivating Practices for Meaningful, Intention-Based Work

Despite what we’re calling unprecedented, challenging times, for many of us daily work seems to carry on as normal. Even before the pandemic, many of us were intimately familiar with never-ending to-do lists. Now, as the nonprofit sector is increasingly strained, many have taken on more work with fewer resources. In a culture that favors productivity, even as we’re marching through hell and high water, there is always another email to send and task to complete. 

It’s important to establish practices that can help hack the to-do list, identify what is truly important, and cultivate a feeling of fulfillment both at work and in life. I am admittedly no pro, but I’ve gathered a few of these actionable items that have helped me along the way.

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5 Ways to Enhance Your Writing, Borrowed from Public Speakers

You’ve completed a year’s worth of grants, appeals, social media posts, and e-blasts. Treat yourself for your hard work right now! We need it. 

But if you’re working remotely because of COVID-19, you’re probably used to spending all day behind a screen. How can you write conversationally when you’ve gone days without face-to-face contact? Try borrowing some ideas from the art of speech writing! 

Public speaking principles are useful because they’re designed to hook audiences, ignite emotions, and pack meaning into a limited time frame. Even if you never step on stage to speak (in-person gatherings? What are those?), your writing will benefit from these principles. Below you'll find some core ideas, how they apply to nonprofit writing, and inspiration from skilled public speakers.

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7 Ways to Improve Virtual Nonprofit Work Culture

With COVID-19 continuing to plague the state, and the timeline for everyone getting vaccinated still months away, it looks like we will be working from home for the foreseeable future. And I don’t know about you, but working virtually from a one bedroom apartment can sometimes be exhausting. Fortunately, my nonprofit has implemented seven practices for improving our team culture that could transfer to your nonprofit:

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America the Not-So-Beautiful: Living Abroad During the Trump Presidency

I moved to Eastern Europe two months before Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, and I relocated to the Twin Cities in September 2020. Plenty of jokes have been made about how I managed to “escape” nearly all of Trump’s presidency, and I’ve grown accustomed to chuckling uncomfortably while knowing that this isn’t really true. The Trump presidency impacted countless aspects of my four years living abroad and taught me several valuable lessons about how people overseas view America.

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Navigating Multiple Crises with Care

This past summer in the Twin Cities has been revolutionary. 

As many organizations made the important pivot to working from home to minimize the impact of a global pandemic, our community suffered the tragic murder of George Floyd at the hands of  Minneapolis Police Department officers, and residents were activated to hit the streets demanding justice.

Mutual aid distribution sites sprung up overnight to aid South and North Minneapolis communities who lost important neighborhood storefronts, which eliminated access to groceries, household goods, and critical medications. 

And we carried on because our work didn’t stop. For many, it intensified. 

The problem with ignoring pain is that it doesn’t go away. We just start to work around it, maneuvering in maladaptive ways.

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My Journey to Examine the Need for Ethical Storytelling Practices

Content Warning: Readers should be aware that this blog includes references to the topic of sex trafficking. Alternately, you can review Alyssa Scott’s earlier YNPN-TC blog on responsible storytelling or the resources listed at the end of this blog.

Communicators have the honor to interview and share the stories of people around us—both those who have lives like our own and, when appropriate, those with experiences that are far different. When sharing stories based on the words and life experiences of another person, we should feel two responsibilities. 

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Graduate school: What am I doing here???

I look up from my laptop screen to see my mom taking a photo of me. “MOM!” I scream at her.

“What honey? It’s funny that you are working on homework in the ER, and this really needs to be documented.”

That was not the first and not the last moment I asked myself, “What am I doing here?” Well, okay, I knew why I was in the emergency room. I had tripped over a pothole while going for a run and got a hematoma (essentially internal bleeding) on my leg that needed to get checked out. During the long wait at the hospital, I found myself laying on a hospital bed with a leg injury and needing to prep for a graduate school group project meeting I had later that night. So, essentially, I knew why I was in the ER, but I found myself questioning yet again why I decided to go back to graduate school. Why was I putting myself through the mental and, apparently, sometimes physical, stress of pursuing a second degree? 

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