My Education: BS in studio art and MA in liberal studies, Nazareth College
My Prior Experience: I started as a media technician, then transitioned into marketing and communications. I worked as a publications director and magazine editor for ten years and am now the communications director for a large church.
My Company: I work in the largest United Methodist Church in upstate New York. We provide worship and outreach services to approximately 2,300 people.
Job/Career Overview: As a communications director who is responsible for all the communications at a large church, I am a jack-of-all-trades: I do writing, editing, and design/layout for our newsletter and other publications. I am responsible for creating and updating the website, so I need some web skills. I place ads in media outlets, so I need to know how to do press releases and ads. If it has to do with marketing or communications, I need to have at least a basic working knowledge of it!
A typical day would find me working on a weekly project, such as writing and creating our bulletin, which is 12-16 pages long and comes out weekly. I work with our pastors and church members to gather data and collect and organize it using Adobe InDesign. I'm also responsible for printing them out, on our high-end Xerox copier. I might spend some time working on laying out our monthly magazine, or interviewing people and writing articles about them. But I also work on "big picture" stuff too--along with our leadership team, I help plan out our strategies finding new members in the coming years, and I guide our marketing efforts to help make that happen.
Although I do not have any staff under me, I work frequently with outside vendors--mainly graphic designers who help me create posters, etc., and printers. Currently we are re-doing our website, and I've been working for nearly a year on this project with an outside project manager and two web technical people.
This job requires a great deal of interaction with people--it's important for church members to know that I'm the one to come to when they want to get the word out about a church project--and generally that's a great thing. It also requires the ability to juggle multiple projects at once. As the only communications person here, I am often handling six or seven projects at once.
More Insights: It can be HUGELY rewarding to work for non-profits. I know many people who end up in the business world who get their first work experience in the non-profit world. It's generally a little less competitive to get jobs there, and non-profits are a great place to get those first few employment opportunities for the resume before you enter the business world. And who knows? You might like it there enough to stay!
I rate this career 8 out of 10.
There are many things I love about this job! I've learned a great deal, since my work covers so many areas of communications/marketing. It's also very satisfying working for an organization that exists to make the world a better place. As a director, I am able to craft our marketing "message" and see it come to life through the projects I work on, from the simple (like our bulletin) to the complex (our website).
I also love the more easy-going atmosphere that you get here and at many non-profit organizations. We're just slightly less cut-throat and aggressive than in the business world.
The thing I like the least is that this job, like almost every job I've ever seen in the non-profit world, is that the pay isn't great. There always seems to be a trade off like that: do something that matters, and take a lesser pay; dive into the for-profit world, and your pay rises, but so do the demands on you.
1. Be open to learning new things that are not specifically in the area you trained for. In small organizations and non-profits, the broader your experience, the better suited you'll be for the job.
2. A good way to break into the non-profit world is to volunteer for an organization that you think you might want to work for. It gets your foot in the door and lets them see how talented you are, and gives you a taste of what that organization is like.
3. Be aware of the lower pay scale that tends to hold true in non-profits. There are other benefits that may make up for that, but know that you'll never get rich working for a non-profit.