Contributed by Cassidy Creighton | Development Coordinator, NPCF
One year ago, around this time, I was sitting at my college career fair, wondering which avenue I would take with my degree. Should I have taken more marketing classes? Is my major even relevant to any of these companies? How do I stand out? When should I lock down my first job? Should I have done more?
I was a Policy Studies major at Elon University in North Carolina, graduating in May 2023. I focused my studies primarily on Environmental Policy, minoring in Psychology. I enjoyed my classes, taking courses ranging from Environmental Economics to Juvenile Justice. Besides juggling these courses, I was also a Division 1 athlete, playing lacrosse in the CAA conference.
Focusing my time primarily on courses and practice, internships were difficult to come by. I took a completely virtual internship opportunity for a non-profit. Though a virtual internship was great exposure, flexible and helpful to accomplish on my time, it lacked the in-person experience I find so valuable. During my senior seminar class, we partnered with a local community land trust. I fell in love with advocating and coordinating for a non-profit organization.
So, I started my job searching for a non-profit I could resonate with. To be completely transparent, it was not such a walk in the park. I spent from December 2022 until July 2023 job searching. Looking all over the East Coast for a job opportunity, I finally landed in sunny Tampa, Florida. The National Pediatric Cancer Foundation (NPCF) has allowed me to work as a Development Coordinator.
A Development Coordinator secures funds and relationships for any given organization. For lack of better words, I support fundraisers, maintain donor relations, conduct research, submit grants, manage data and work closely with my team members in other fields. In my case, I am focused on building strong relationships with prospective donors, partners and sponsors. The upkeep of these relationships includes phone calls, emails and in-person meetings.
In my first week of jumping into this position, I learned more about the non-profit industry than ever before. Specifically, in my office, team collaboration is everything. The NPCF is focused on funding pediatric cancer research, meaning all hands on deck. It is important for me to understand marketing, event coordination and, of course, development. I spent my first month ensuring I understood how to interact with my colleagues. Fundraising, sales, marketing and networking are all crucial parts of any business, even a non-profit.
Completely throwing myself into a career I am passionate about has always been important to me. I know I am a part of something bigger than myself. I am part of a cause that has the potential to cure pediatric cancer. For me, joining a non-profit I am proud of is an important aspect of my career goals as a postgraduate professional.
If you are pursuing your college pathway or future career, consider a role in the non-profit sector. You’ll be glad you did!