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Career Story: Administrative Assistant For A Non-Profit Organization

Administrative Assistant For A Non-Profit Organization

Job Title: Administrative Assistant

Type of Company: I work for a non-profit organization. We serve cancer patients and we fundraise.

Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art

Previous Experience: My previous jobs was a Production Director for an advertising agency (estimating, scheduling, purchasing printing, etc.)

Job Tasks: We do various fundraisers: Galas (three per year that include live and silent auctions, bands, dinner, the works), overnight camping events (17 per year), walks (one per year). The planning is huge. We recruit volunteers to do as much of the work as possible. We work long hours including nights and weekends. It's exhausting. Each event really takes about one year's worth of planning as so much of the fundraising happens prior to the actual event - then event becomes the celebration of all we've raised.

But on the other hand we also serve patients during their treatment. We provide camp for children with cancer. We send young adults just out of high school that have had cancer to college. We have a Hope Lodge (similar to a Ronald McDonald House) where patients can stay during treatment. We offer support groups of many kinds. And we work one on one with women going through surgery and treatment with cosmetic and other changes - providing wigs if they've lost their hair, bras and prosthesis if they've had mastectomies, and make-up classes when treatment affects their skin. They come in feeling very low but when they leave they almost on top of the world. It is working with these wonderful patients that makes the difficult fundraising worthwhile.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The hours can be dreadful. We work nights and weekends because that is when we can hold events. It is also when we are able to work with our volunteers because most of them hold full-time jobs as well. The pay is only fair (non-profit) but our benefits are very good. Due to the pay we seem to employ mostly women (sorry to say). Other than our connection to patients going through cancer - which is really the absolute best part of our job, we also have wonderful volunteers. People who volunteer their time are special people.

Job Tips:
1. I'm sure this is not an issue - but computer experience is a must. (I'm 50 now so computers were not always second nature to me.)

2. You have to have a heart and soul for the organizations mission.

3. Such a large organization has "best practices" (rules to follow for each event, program etc). Although we work very independently we can't venture far out of the box. We need to stick to the "best practices."

Additional Thoughts: Don't let my "warnings" steer you away from non-profit. It's a very rewarding job. It's a case of doing something that will truly make a difference in peoples lives and the future of our world.

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