Why I YNPNdc

By Emma Parkerson

About this time two years ago, I received an email announcing that the application to join YNPNdc’s Leadership Team was just released, and it was open to anyone.  Let me assure you, this was in no way a slow time at my day job. However, despite my long hours, I decided to put together an application and see what happened.  Why?  Maybe I was looking to carve out some time for myself or to meet other people feeling the way I was; who knows.  What I can tell you, though, is what keeps me energized about serving young nonprofit professionals in the DC area.

First, let’s be honest—working at nonprofits is hard.

After seven years in the sector, there is only one thing I am sure about:  working for a mission-driven 501(c)(3) is emotionally, physically, and intellectually exhausting.  The work never stops; it comes home with you every night.  It can feel impossible to prioritize because everything is important, and most of it is a day late.  There are never enough people to get the job done, the funding is never guaranteed, and we spend way too much time trying to justify our cause.

Now, take all those factors and try to squish them into the life of a typical 20-something. Do your friends wonder why you work so hard or why you care so much about your job?  Do your parents tell you that you deserve a job with better pay and work-life balance?  When was the last time you actually made a 5:00pm gym class?  These are things I hear all the time from our members.  And dating?  Only if we can squeeze a happy hour in before the next grant proposal is due!

So, why do I YNPNdc?

  1. For Support – At YNPNdc, we laugh together and we cry together.  When my day job gets hard, I always know that I can count on one of my fellow leaders to just listen and say, “I know what that’s like.”  That reassurance is not only comforting, but often renews my energy for my work.
  2. To Have a Voice – Working at a nonprofit shouldn’t be so hard.  YNPNdc offers an opportunity to develop your voice as an advocate for the sector, working to reframe the way the public views our work.
  3. For Professional Growth and Leadership – YNPNdc has directly impacted my leadership skills, in particular, my ability to drive work with a team that is not co-located.  Many of us have received promotions since joining the organization, and for many, that can be attributed to skills we gained through our work with the leadership team.
  4. Friendship – Above all else, YNPNdc has connected me with amazing friends I am certain I will call upon way beyond our time with the organization.  I have attended potlucks, run races, tried new foods, and learned a lot from my fellow leaders.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Any of this sound interesting to you?  I encourage you to check out our 2014-15 recruitment page to learn more about the Leadership Team opportunities currently available.  Questions?  Reach out to recruitment@ynpndc.org or find me on Twitter @emmakp!

Emma Parkerson is Program Manager for New Products and Services at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, an education nonprofit established to advance student learning by creating standards and systems for certifying accomplished educators. A graduate of The George Washington University, Emma earned her professional certification in project management (PMP) in 2012. She is an alumna of the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Educational Policy Fellowship Program. In her free time, Emma enjoys seeking out new music and traveling with friends.

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