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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Three Newish Service Corps Recruiting Right Now

Innovative national service and fellowship programs focus creatively to solve serious social and environmental problems in our communities. At the same time, programs offer participants a chance to learn new technical and people skills, develop new social networks, and become part of a solution.

Currently, there are hundreds of diverse service corps working around the world – and right now, three relatively new programs are recruiting. See anything that is right for you?

featured

Be like the First Lady! (Photo: The White House Flickr feed)

FoodCorps (inaugural year!)
Application deadline: April 10th
Locations: Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon

FoodCorps is a brand-new, year-long service opportunity to help solve the obesity epidemic. Participants will build and/or tend school gardens, teach kids about food and nutrition, and coordinate farm-to-school programs in grassroots nonprofits, local health departments or farms.

Blue Engine (recruiting its second class of fellows)
Application deadline: April 6th
Locations: Public high schools in New York City

Blue Engine is recruiting recent college grads to facilitate daily, differentiated, small-group instruction for high school freshmen in order to increase the rigor of academic preparation for high schoolers so that when the students enter college, they are prepared to succeed there.

ProInspire (recruiting its third class of fellows)
Application deadline: February 25th
Locations: Nonprofits in Washington, DC

ProInspire recruits experienced business-sector professionals to play critical analytical or strategic roles in nonprofits in the Washington, DC-area during one-year Inspire Fellowships.

And that’s not all!

Many, many more service corps exist. Most are for people age 18 and up, and many have no upper age limit. The key to success in participating in a corps is to find the right one for you. To see a long list of corps and coalitions, check out The New Service blog and explore the Service Corps pages in our Career Center.

Are you thinking of a term of service? What programs are you considering?

Cross posted from Idealist.org.

Blue Engine Accelerates Academic Achievement in High Need High Schools – and it’s Recruiting Now!

Guest post by Alison Fedyna, Blue Engine 2010-2011 Fellow, teaches individualized algebra instruction to a small group of high schoolers daily in New York City. Blue Engine is currently accepting applications for its 2011-2012 year.

A few months ago I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was a recent college graduate on the verge of unemployment, and spent most of my free time obsessively browsing Idealist.org for socially-conscious job opportunities.  Sound familiar?

Alison Fedyna, Blue Engine Fellow

Now, I am in a classroom, looking up at the group of five students that I am working with today. I see four students smiling up at me, thumbs raised to show me they understood the lesson our lead teacher just taught.

I glance over at my fifth student, who is bashfully looking down into his lap. His thumb is pointed down, and is barely visible underneath his other hand that is trying to hide his difficult admission: I’m lost.

As I was rushing back and forth from the one side of the table to the other, trying to keep both the students who were ready to move on with the lesson and the student who needed some remedial work intellectually engaged, I realized something.

If this learning disparity is keeping me this busy with just five kids, how could a teacher with a classroom of 30 possibly do this on his or her own?

It’s simple. She couldn’t. This is how students fall through the cracks. They have learned to just smile and nod and pretend that everything is fine, when in reality they might be completely confused. When a teacher has behavioral issues to deal with, and students are calling for help in ten different directions, the student with his head down who appears to be working diligently is left alone. No one checks to see if he has done the work correctly and no one notices anything is wrong until an alarming test or quiz score shows up. But by then, it is too late.

This is where Blue Engine comes in.

Blue Engine is a new education non-profit based in New York City. Eleven other recent graduates and I are engaging in a year of service as Blue Engine Fellows, working as full-time teaching assistants in a public school.  We conduct small group tutorials alongside experienced classroom teachers, helping entire grade levels of students, from those who need extra help to those who can be pushed to excel, make dramatic progress in core coursework and become prepared for college.

I joined Blue Engine to help students, students just like the ones I was working with today, succeed.  Even though life as a Blue Engine Fellow can be crazy at times, I have the amazing opportunity to see my students growing in both their academic and personal endeavors each and every day.

It is that daily feeling of impact, that wonderful realization that our students are steadily increasing their academic achievement that for me makes all of the effort completely worth it.

It is the end of class, and again I ask the students in my group how they feel about the material we learned today. I glance at the student sitting farthest away from me, and I smile when I see his thumb proudly pointing up for everyone to see.  A few months ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Now, it is moments like this that make me realize I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

To find out more about becoming a Blue Engine Fellow, check out our website or contact us at admissions@blueengine.org.

ServeNext.org is now accepting applications for its 2011 Field Program

Patti Kurtz, 2010 ServeNext Field Organizer

ServeNext.org is now accepting applications for its 2011 Field Program, placing part-time organizers throughout the country to help build networks of service supporters and stakeholders and to advocate for Federal support of service.

To give potential applicants a first hand perspective on what it’s like to be a ServeNext Organizer, 2010 Organizer Patti Kurtz shares her experience.

I applied to be a ServeNext Organizer because…
Patti: I had an amazing year in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, and I wanted to make sure opportunities like this exist for other people as well.  After my year in service, I moved to Chicago and got a job in advertising with a private company.  While I love my job, I also wanted to Continue reading

Service Nation Asks: How Do You Find Volunteer Opportunities?

Be The Change, Inc. — the folks behind the Service Nation movement to grow funding and support for service opportunities — have launched a survey to ask you how you find volunteer opportunities.

A  Service Nation blog post explains:

In the next month, we are launching a project that we are calling ServiceCensus. The ServiceCensus project aims to increase the number of volunteer opportunity postings available online.

Before we launch the ServiceCensus full-scale, we need to do our homework. The intern team has been running a Pre-Census outreach effort in the Boston area and connecting with organizations in the area to find out how they use online resource to connect with volunteers. So far we’ve received some great insight from these organizations! The idea is to take this knowledge and try to help improve awareness of the range of available opportunities as well as to improve the volunteer search experience.

But now we need your help ServiceNation! We need to hear the other side of the story from volunteers like YOU. Continue reading

Idealist.org Grad Fairs in DC and New York this Week!

For folks seeking graduate school options, check out our first two graduate admissions fairs of 2010 this week on the East Coast.

Both events feature 60 public interest graduate schools and 6 pm panel discussion. Admission is free!

New York City — June 15th

Tuesday, June 15, 2010, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (check out the schedule)Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus, Pope Auditorium
113 West 60th Street, New York, NY (directions)

Washington, DC — June 16th

Wednesday, June 16, 2010, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (check out the schedule)
American University, Katzen Arts Center, Main Rotunda, First Floor
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, D.C. (directions)

More…

Check out more grad school resources on Idealist!

Also take a look at which grad schools are…

ServeNext Launches Field Corps to Advance Service + Social Innovation

ServeNext is launching Field Corps, an initiative to “build local and lasting grassroots networks to advance service, AmeriCorps, and social innovation…as strategies to tackle our most pressing social challenges and strengthen our democracy.”

To launch the program, ServeNext is recruiting 10 part-time organizers to serve 10 hours a week between August and January, from all around the country. Field Corps organizers will receive “extensive training in organizing grassroots campaigns, communication and social media, legislative advocacy, strategic planning Continue reading