I was recently invited to participate in a blogging alliance of millennial nonprofity folks. Which is pretty fitting considering I am of the appropriate age range, employment and that “nonprofit” is the largest tag in the tag cloud in the sidebar of this blog.
I can’t speak to any teleological path leading me to where I am today. I can though give the short and contextualized version:
In 2001, as I was preparing to graduate from high school I really wanted to do AmeriCorps (or the military, but my parents were strongly against that). I also hedged my bets and applied to some state colleges—being in California I had some decent options. Unfortunately my AmeriCorps dreams were cut short when my entire application packet (motivational essays, letters of reference, etc.) was lost by the USPS… or so I assumed since no one from AmeriCorps was ever able to consistently return my phone calls. So I went to college.
Three years later, as I was preparing to graduate from college I was looking for things to do. My parents were strongly against me enlisting the previous year (when I really wanted to go) and my friends now in the officer’s program weren’t singing many praises either. I was accepted into Teach for America; but after taking their welcome packet’s advice and calling some alumni, I was told that the benefits I really wanted—structured personal and professional development—weren’t there. The post-graduation internship I really wanted at a local defense contractor didn’t come through either. So I (re)applied to AmeriCorps. To my glee, the new application packet now came with a FedEx envelope. So I moved to Boston to serve in AmeriCorps.
Five years later, I haven’t moved far from that. Working within and with nonprofit organizations has afforded me a lot of flexibility in the work I do and the people I do it with. I find myself driven more by excellence than by mission. Mostly I enjoy the direct problem solving and latitude I have: I haven’t worked myself out of a job yet, so there is obviously room for innovation.
If that’s not a millenial memoir, I don’t know what is.