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Career Story: Director Of A Hands-On Science Center

Director Of A Hands-On Science Center

Job Title: Executive Director

Type of Company: We are a hands-on science center with an exhibit hall and an extensive outreach program. Our purpose is to share the excitement of science and technology with South Dakotans and their guests.

Education: BS, Elementary and Special Education

Previous Experience: Lifeguard, swimming pool assistant manager, daycare staff person, special education teacher, elementary education teacher, summer museum educator, museum educator, executive director

Job Tasks: 1. Manage day to day operations of science center. 2. Raise funds though events, grant writing, private donations and admission fees to keep our operation running. 3. Hire and fire, mentor personnel. 4. Make recommendations for new programming. 5. Market our programs through typical formats and community involvement. 6. Oversee maintenance and janitorial concerns for the center. 7. Develop and maintain partnerships with other organizations.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Best: flexibility, opportunities for creativity, working in a place where people come happy.

The worst part is fundraising. It gets to be a drag asking people for money all the time. In a struggling non-profit organization where we worry from time to time about making payroll, it is stressful to have people's livelihoods dependent on your efforts.

Job Tips:
1. Get a business administration degree or non-profit management. 2. Take a thorough fundraising course. 3. Join a group of peers with the same type of job. It will save you from reinventing the wheel. What's more, they'll be good sounding board for new ideas and they may be able to send you to good fundraising sources, etc. 4. Be very involved in your community. 5. Become a very, very good communicator, in writing and verbally.

Additional Thoughts: Though I started with an elementary education degree and fully intended to pursue a teaching career, I love my job. I have learned so many new skills: management, grant writing, fundraising. My writing skill has really been honed. The trade-off is that I have to work summers.

BEST ADVICE FOR ANYONE: Take advantage of any opportunity you get to learn something new. It may open a career door for you, but at the very least, it will build your confidence and thought processes and make you feel more independent. Don't sit around while you are young. Volunteer, take an extra class, go out and meet people. Save money. It will allow you to be pickier about your future career choices.

To those of you determined to become teachers, I highly recommend working in a non-school job for a period of time. I think I would make a really great teacher now because I have perspective on what skills are really important in the working world. I can now answer a lot of those "why do we have to learn this" questions.

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