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Career Story: Director Of Administration For A Large Non-Profit

Director Of Administration For A Large Non-Profit

Job Title: Senior Director Of Administration - Large Non-Profit Organization

Type of Company: We are a full-service human services provider. We provide support services to children and adults with disabilities in the community, throughout the state of Connecticut. We have group homes, day programs, after-school care for youth with autism, employment programs for people who are unemployed, and more.

Education: BS, Special Education, Southern Connecticut State University •• MS, Special Education, Southern Connecticut State University

Previous Experience: During college I took a special education internship course and after graduation I interned at my current place of employment, where I was eventually hired as a Program Counselor providing direct care for adults with disabilities. I've been promoted several times -- to Group Home Manager, Program Coordinator, Director of Human Resources and, finally, to my current position.

Job Tasks: As the Senior Director of Administration I oversee several departments and functions at this private, non-profit organization. The departments include Human Resources, Staff Training, Information Technology, Payroll and Administration in general.

What is exciting about this job is that the duties change regularly, yet consistently. For example, each year I shop for health insurance for our staff. We have 750 employees (450 of whom qualify for our medical, dental, vision and life insurance) and I am responsible for finding the best coverage for our staff and families that is also affordable. My HR department is responsible for enrolling all of our employees on their new plan, a lengthy, three-month process. Once a year I shop for package and workers compensation insurance for our over 90 agency vehicles and 50 buildings. Also on a regular basis I revise agency personnel policies, ensure that our recruitment and staff retention programs are meeting their goals, report to the board of directors, and coordinate and oversee the hiring, evaluation, discipline and staff termination processes.

The safety of the staff as well as the Worker's Compensation and Family Medical Leave Act programs are under my purview as well. I ensure that payroll is complete and accurate every two weeks, that essential information is received by our staff, meet with the 90 managers on a monthly basis, and ensure that our data administration on our several computer programs is accurate.

It is my responsibility to remain updated on the state and Federal labor laws and to implement new procedures in order to maintain compliance with these laws.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I make a difference in the lives of the staff and consumers served by this organization. I know that every day that I am at work I am helping people. It is an exciting job that changes daily. I may be helping to develop a new group home or program for a person or family with a need, training new staff, promoting someone, teaching someone a skill they keep forever, hiring people, looking at new payroll system, shopping for time clocks, figuring out a solution to a problem or other activity that I may or may not have done before.

Job Tips: The type of job that I have takes growth within an organization, so my advice is choose your employer carefully, not necessarily securing the highest paying job at any organization. My career defines who I am, therefore I work for an organization with a great reputation, integrity and with values and a mission that matches mine.

If you start out in an entry-level position while in school, work hard, smile, solve problems, get along with all your co-workers and supervisors, and provide the best customer service. No matter what the job is, you will be noticed and promoted. Companies have training to develop their employees.

Additional Thoughts: My career is a mixture of many administrative roles in a Human Services Organization. There is not one course of study to prepare someone to be in an executive role, so learning about all aspects of running an organization such as budgeting, finance, labor laws, organizational behavior, staff training and development is helpful. I went to school to be a special education teacher, which I did not pursue. The education I received helps me in my position, but it was the internship and entry level experience that led me to this job.

Hands-on career exploration is my advice. Take advantage of every internship, credit-for-work program or other hands on experience. Meeting people in your desired field is invaluable. Being at the same organization for 23 years, enjoying my job, and being able to support my family is a successful career for me.

Other advice: Get your Master's Degree (I get to teach part-time at nearby colleges). Read everything out loud before you submit it (even e-mails). Act in a professional manner if you are serious about a career.

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