Inspire Fellow Finds Support + Guidance to Jump Sectors (and You Can Too)

Maurice Matthews, Inspire Fellow

Guest post contributed by Maurice Matthews, Inspire Fellow.

Do you want to know how to make the jump from the corporate sector into the non-profit space?

The short answer is: there is no one way to make the jump, but it can be a great experience if you take time to understand yourself and find the right opportunity.

I am currently working at Year Up through the Inspire Fellowship.

Career beginnings

Before this, I served in the Army and worked as an analyst servicing ultra-high-net-worth individuals at JPMorgan. I know there are many others like me, with hopes of enacting social change but who are either unsure how to make the switch or nervous to leave a healthy paycheck.

After wrapping up my career with JPMorgan and spending time with Harlem Children’s Zone, I pondered what my next step would be. I learned about the Inspire Fellowship, a program geared to take the best and brightest young minds from the corporate sector and bring them into leading non-profits.  I applied last year and was ecstatic to be accepted into the 2010 class.

Year Up

I am working as a Fellow at Year Up National Capital Region. Year Up is a one-year, intensive training program that provides urban young adults 18-24 with a unique combination of technical and professional skills, college credits, an educational stipend, and a corporate internship.

At Year Up I wear several hats. My official title is Special Projects Manager, but I do a mix of finance, operations, special projects, and serve as an advisor for 3 students in the program.

Typical day

I really don’t have a typical day. Usually I’ll sit with my advisees for about 30-45 minutes to discuss their week and any issues that may have arisen. I spend the rest of my day doing work associated with my functional responsibilities.

That may include working on our site’s budget, meeting with an architect about expanding our current office, or hosting a conference call with senior leadership to discuss programs that are funded by social investment organizations.

Advice to Sector Switchers

My advice to future sector switchers is to do your research. There are so many opportunities in the non-profit sector, each with different missions and visions.

  • You have to be honest with yourself in order to find the right fit.
  • Find your passion and connect with it.
  • Look for roles where you can leverage your skills and learn new things.
  • Be genuine with your motives.
  • Be prepared to listen deeply and understand that you will not go into a non-profit and become their savior.

To be successful, you should be adaptable, feel comfortable with ambiguity, bring your ideas to the table, and take initiative to make things happen. If you are wondering whether you could make the jump, the answer is yes.

ProInspire & the Inspire Fellowship

In addition to everything I am learning at Year Up, I meet with my Inspire Fellows class once a month for an all day training that prepares us for future leadership roles in the social sector.

Our seminars have covered topics like situational leadership, project management, becoming powerful communicators, and having great presence. Our workshops are so insightful that they should be mandatory training for leaders in any sector.

Ready to switch? Apply for an Inspire Fellowship

ProInspire is currently recruiting for the 2011 Inspire Fellowship.  If you are interested in making a switch into the nonprofit sector, you should consider applying. The first round deadline is February 25th. Learn more at our website.

Maurice Matthews is an Inspire Fellow at Year Up, a nonprofit that is closing the Opportunity Divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. He previously worked as a Private Banking Analyst at JPMorgan and served 2 years as an infantryman within the US Army. Maurice has worked with a number of non-profit organizations throughout his career, including Harlem Children’s Zone, Harlem Charter School and Columbia University’s Community Impact. Maurice graduated magna cum laude from Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Political Science and Economics.

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