RealJobs: Calvin Lai

Hello Eagles! Thanks for stopping by. If you leaned over my shoulder on Graduation Day 1995 at Alumni Stadium and told me that I would be doing what I’m doing now, I may have stayed at school an extra year.  But right now, I couldn’t be happier with me career.  Four years ago, I made a significant switch: from the creative departments of the ad agency world to the fundraising team for a major New York City nonprofit.

The Doe Fund (www.doe.org) helps homeless and formerly incarcerated men to rejoin the workforce.  The mission is what brought me here.  It’s what gets me up in the morning.  Well, that and our 20-month old daughter.  As the Associate Director of Development, I’m helping to manage a variety of fundraising efforts, including direct mail, web gifts, major donor appeals, social media, special events, and corporate sponsorships.  Each day, I try to infuse the fundraising process at The Doe Fund with the creative and strategic insight that I gained from my years in advertising.  I take pride in knowing that every dollar we raise is helping guys who are looking to turn their lives around.  For me, it doesn’t get much better than that.

It was my senior year at BC when I discovered my passion for advertising.  I took the Ad Copy and Layout course and fell in love with creating ideas that sell.  I also secured an internship at Hill Holliday, one of Boston’s legendary ad agencies.  These college experiences helped spark my career as an advertising copywriter.  I had a lot of fun in this business for more than ten years.  I contributed to global ad campaigns and also helped launch new brands into the marketplace.  I met celebrities like James Earl Jones and Donovan McNabb.  I loved the creative process and the long coffee breaks at the foosball table.  But about halfway into my career, I felt empty.  I needed to do something more.

Since moving to New York City in 1997, I had a discontent about the state of homelessness in New York.  It wasn’t a problem that could be swept under the rug.  In New York, the homeless are everywhere.  Sometimes they even hold the door for you to your bank’s ATM center.  I sensed that not all of these homeless people chose to live like this.  I knew that some just fell on hard times.  They had some bad breaks, and what they needed was an opportunity to start over.  At the same time, I felt convicted about the importance of serving others, a call that stems from my faith in Jesus and a lesson that I feel BC does a terrific job of instilling.

Ten years later, I responded to a job posting on www.idealist.org from The Doe Fund.  I finally had an opportunity to tackle my discontent head on.  Aside from the mission, what I love most about my job is that I get to use my writing skills to make a positive impact, and I continue to do freelance copywriting on the side.  I’ll share more about my work in my upcoming entries.  So stay tuned for more!

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One response to “RealJobs: Calvin Lai

  1. Hi Calvin,

    Really loving your blog posts and your whole career path. I’d be interested in talking to you about it, but can’t find a way to get in touch with you through the website! I’d appreciate it if you could shoot me an e-mail: kimmerleb@gmail.com

    Thanks!
    Ben

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