As a junior at Boston College, I had a guest speaker come into a Public Relations class of mine. Her name was Peggy Connolly, and she introduced herself as the Managing Director for the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. Now, if you are anything like me (and I’m sure you are much more self-aware than I am, so this is most likely not the case), you had never heard of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship—affectionately referred to as the BCCCC. Yes, it is a mouthful either way.
Peggy sat in front of our class and talked about what the Center does—essentially, act as a source of information and support for businesses in the 21st century who are looking to be socially responsible, i.e., good ‘corporate citizens.’ Now, let me be clear, at this point I was very fuzzy on exactly how the Center could manage that, but regardless, I was intrigued. The idea that corporations have an obligation to be good citizens, because under US laws they are essentially treated as such, rang true with me. ‘Now, there is an organization that is doing some good in the world,’ I thought to myself. ‘I wonder how I can get involved.’
I approached Peggy at the end of the class and explained that I was interested in the work she was doing, and that I was a communications major and interested in marketing. Was there a possibility that the BCCCC needed an intern? She politely told me there was no such position, but perhaps one could be created; would I be interested in that?
Oh, I was interested. I was so interested, in fact, that I hounded poor Peggy for about a month and a half to see if such an internship could be created; thankfully, she indulged me and created an intern position, and I spent the next two years as the marketing and communications intern at the center.
This first foray into the world of an organization that seemed to be doing some good in the world, not just trying to turn a profit, would be my initial step on the path to where I am today: happily employed as a member of one of the most respected nonprofits in St. Louis—a region, many people will tell you, which is stuffed to the gills with nonprofits.
My current job is Program Coordinator at a nonprofit called FOCUS St. Louis®, a leadership development organization which works to create a thriving, cooperative region by engaging citizens to participate in active leadership roles and to influence positive community change.
So what does that all entail? Well, for a start, I am Program Coordinator for two programs: the Coro™ Fellows Program in Public Affairs, and the Coro™ Women In Leadership Program. Coro™ is a national organization which runs leadership programs across the country at five different centers—Pittsburgh, New York, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The Fellows program is a nine-month full time program which exposes its Fellows to various sectors (nonprofit, government, business, labor, and electoral politics) through field placements at real organizations. The Fellows get hands-on training through this intense nine-month process, and come out with a breadth of experience and knowledge that is impressive to behold.
Women In Leadership is a part-time program, aimed at women (obviously) who are navigating the uniquely complex waters of being leaders in the workplace and the community; built on the same basic principles as the Fellows Program, it takes the women through hands-on experiential learning to build and shape their capacities as leaders.
To be Program Coordinator for both of these programs means one thing: organization, organization, organization. Each program needs participants. In order to have participants, we need applicants. In order to have applicants, we need to recruit. When I first started at FOCUS, I found myself in the unique position of recruiting program candidates for the Fellows program from college career fairs—fairs where, two years ago, I would have been on the other side of the table.
My days vary wildly—a theme I think you’ll see across these blogs from my fellow writers. Depending on the season, I am either managing the current program sessions for both programs, or recruiting for one and managing the day-to-day tasks of the other. I help applicants move through the process for both programs, track down transcripts, write hundreds of thank you notes, and plan events. I have a card to Sam’s Club, and the local catering companies on speed dial.
In short, it’s never a place I’d thought I’d be—but it’s turning out just fine.
More to come.