Everyone Starts Somewhere


It is important to remember that everyone starts somewhere… and that somewhere is not always the most glamorous job.

I have worked as both a telemarketer and waitress, and in both roles I learned lessons that helped me advance my nonprofit career:

Telemarketing:  Yes – I was “one of those people” who called you when you were sitting down for dinner to try and sell you something.  I remember my boss telling me, “Sarah, you are going to face more rejection in this job than any other job you will ever have… so if you can handle the rejection as a telemarketer, you can handle any future rejection.”  You know, he was right – night after night I would receive more rejection than you can ever imagine… I would easily have 100 people tell me “NO” in one hour (and some were pretty harsh about it).  I believe that overcoming a fear of rejection has helped me develop into a strong fundraiser… not afraid to “make the ask” for a donation or sponsorship.  After all, what’s the worst thing they could say… “NO”…that’s not so hard to overcome, I’ve done it before.

Waitress:  My mother opened a restaurant, so naturally I took up a summer job working at the family restaurant waitressing during high school and college.  Talk about a crash course in customer service!  The same theory we applied at the restaurant to ensure the customers were happy I still use today.  At the restaurant we focused on getting to know our regular customers and building relationships with them beyond the transactional relationship of a typical restaurant server.  Rather, by building relationships we were developing regular customers, which grew restaurant sales.  Very similar how I now strive to grow relationships with donors… I try to go beyond just cashing their check and sending a thank you note but rather get to know our donors to know what interests and excites them about our nonprofit. Uncovering their interests enables me to provide them with a better donor experience and open the door to future donations for the organization.

If you are looking to start or grow a successful career in the nonprofit sector, remember that everyone starts somewhere, and your first job might not be the most glamorous title. But do build from your past experiences, because everyone starts somewhere… even minimum wage jobs can have experiences you can use to develop your nonprofit career.

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Related Posts:
Yes, customer service is important
How my loud mouth helped me secure my first NPO job
5 things that advanced my nonprofit career


About Dr. Sarah Wolin Mackey

Putting theory into practice at nonprofit organizations.
This entry was posted in Career, Young Professional and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Everyone Starts Somewhere

  1. That’s a very interesting point of view from being a telemarketer. That is a strong quality to have. Making the ask can definitely be intimidating. I think you have great perspective and wish you the best of luck!

  2. Pingback: Work for Free | Sarah W Mackey

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