What's in YNPN of OKC for me?

by Emily Mapes, Vice President
There are so many wonderful ways to connect with other nonprofit professionals in the OKC area. We at YNPN of OKC hope to serve a very specific group of nonprofit professionals – those with 10 years or less experience in the field.
This includes people who are just graduating college and starting their first career, or people making the switch from another sector to the nonprofit sector after a previous career in another industry.
So to be clear—your AGE isn’t particularly important! “Young” simply refers to the amount of time you’ve been in your nonprofit career. So if you’ve been in the workforce for 30 years, but only started working in the nonprofit sector 3 years ago, then YNPN of OKC is just for you!
Young Nonprofit Professionals Network is actually a national organization with 42 local chapters (including startup chapters which are still going through the official YNPN chapter approval process) throughout the United States. Between the national network and our local OKC chapter, there are lots of benefits of getting involved.
  • Building your personal network with fellow young nonprofit professionals: Besides meeting new folks at YNPN of OKC events, getting involved with a YNPN chapter gives you connections with other YNPN chapters as well. If you were to move to another city with a YNPN chapter, the YNPN of OKC National Liaison could connect you with people on the board of the YNPN chapter of the city you’re moving to, and they could connect you with people in your particular area or sector of the nonprofit world. With your YNPN connections, you could have a network before you even unpack your first box!
  • Connecting with nonprofit professionals around the country: If you’re not moving anytime soon but would like to establish relationships with young nonprofit professionals around the country, there are many opportunities at different levels of involvement with YNPN:
  • Experience and education at a low cost (usually free!): When you’re just starting a new career, it’s often difficult to find ways to gather experience in areas outside your day-to-day job. At YNPN of OKC, we hope to provide volunteer opportunities on committees and on our board so you can learn something new. Want to try fundraising but you’re a programming manager at your nonprofit? Come volunteer with us!
The same thing goes for our education opportunities. When you’re new at a job, it can be difficult if not impossible to get permission or time to attend professional development workshops, let alone workshops outside of the scope of your job.
It’s our goal to provide low cost (if not free) workshops after work in a variety of areas so that you can either learn more about your area of work or explore other areas in the nonprofit field.
The best part about YNPN of OKC is that while we try to provide something for all young nonprofit professionals in the area, we are constantly growing and changing. If there is an event or workshop or service you think that we could provide that we don’t currently, we want to hear from you!  If you have any ideas or questions for our National Liaison about opportunities to connect with other people around the country, send us a note through our contact page.

How Networking Can Get You Hired

by Libby Boyles
As someone who was recently on the job hunt after moving to Oklahoma City, I know how hard it can be out there! I had many years of experience in the nonprofit field I was searching in, but had a very difficult time finding openings and getting interviews.
I sought out professional help with my resume and used all the tips I could find for getting hired.  It wasn’t until almost two years after my job search began that I received an offer with a wonderful nonprofit that I am very excited to be working with. So what was the answer? It all boiled down to networking.
Nonprofit hiring practices differ from the public sector in many ways, as outlined at idealist.org.  One of those ways is that nonprofit hiring managers often look internally, at their volunteer pool, or at other nonprofits when filling positions. I asked one manager why this was, and she said that due to a limited budget nonprofits sometimes cannot get additional positions approved until current employees are already overloaded. This means new employees must be able to hit the ground running. It is also believed that someone in the network of a current employee or a volunteer of the organization will be more likely to buy in to the organization’s mission and core value system.
Nonprofits also may not have the budget to post openings on large (expensive) job posting sites, which make finding open positions harder for job seekers. Idealist.org said “Networking is the main way that nonprofit organizations hire. In a 2003 Idealist.org survey of nonprofit staffing professionals, it was found that, when hiring recent graduates, 66 percent of organizations find out about candidates through networking.
So what can you do to grow your nonprofit network?
Volunteer with an organization in the field that you want to work in. Most nonprofits rely heavily on volunteers and have many opportunities for you to get involved. You can start this process while you are in school or while you are employed in another field. Even committing to volunteer once a month or seasonally can help you learn more about the sector and get your name out there.
Attend networking events (we have some great ones here!) and follow up with people you meet. Share your contact information and check in regularly with your expanding network. Talk about where you would like to see your career going and listen for advice from others’ experiences.
Participate with a professional association or join a board. You have skills that nonprofit boards or committees and professional associations can use! Figure out what skills you possess and sell them.
This all takes time, so get started as soon as possible and continue to nurture your network as you go.  You never know who will introduce you to your dream job in the nonprofit sector.

Dream big

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