“Yes, I’m sorry. I understand. I won’t anymore.”
That may not have been a direct quote, but I’m sure my comment in response was something VERY similar to that. For some background, years ago I was told I should never speak about launching Cardz for Kidz to anyone who could at all be related to my 9-5 work life. Playing with these kids was simply a distraction.
That wasn’t the main reason I was trying so hard to be secretive in the past (#SecretsOut), but it was the main reason I felt I needed to draw a huge line between my daily activities. I tried to create my own separation of church and state in a sense, but instead I just created separation between different email addresses. It was tough because it seemed like there was some correlation between the two, but I knew I had to.
Before things were so distinctive, I was under the impression that everyone would benefit from this organization. Participation and interest slowly began to increase. Also, we were able to create an Instagram account. Back in the day you could only have one account per phone. I had the idea that for Twitter we could follow and interact with anyone who made or received cards, but on Instagram we’d only interact with nonprofits with similar messages. Thanks to hashtags, we connected with several organizations including Send A Smile Today. The founder, Kim, and I found ways we could work together and help both of our organizations grow.
I launched activities around making cards with MBA classmates, undergrad alumni, and coworkers. Everyone loved it, at least to my face. At one company, as the card making grew and senior leaders got involved, coworkers started treating me differently (#cantcomplain – so won’t provide details). Unfortunately, that position ended, but, thankfully, I got another analytics role and once again merged the email addresses. I had employees from offices across the globe begin to volunteer and make cards. As noted in the Right Results blog post, there was a lot of positive feedback from senior level management/executives, but things differed with day-to-day coworkers. After a couple of years and some setbacks in health, that position ended as well.
When explaining the stories to people close to me, including a trusted advisor, I was told that those companies were looking at Cardz for Kidz as a distraction. The people who were writing those reviews had issues that I was trying to force what I was doing in my free time to the workplace and was disrupting the workflow. I needed to remove everything from my resume and LinkedIn profile that referred to the organization since future employers would be disappointed by the distraction:
- Created and led a new company wide community service event where employees create impactful cards for in-patients at the local children’s hospital; initial program produced over 200 cards
Based on classes and seminars, I learned the most effective way to get a new position was through networking. One could apply online, but that’s a lot less efficient. It’s much better to make a connection, meet with them, and see if you can get your foot in the door. I was looking through LinkedIn, connecting with former professors/classmates, and finally began reaching out to friends of friends. Thankfully, it worked when I connected with one of my prior classmates, Vicky, who worked for a large consumer packaged goods (CPG) company in Chicago. She passed along my information and told me who I needed to contact: Allen – Head of Insights.
We agreed to meet over coffee and I’m sure I worked with my sisters AND parents to make sure I picked out the ideal outfit. Although I was likely traveling back to Chicago for a Cardz for Kidz event or another interview, this meeting with a senior leader from a CPG was personally WAY more important. Here’s why:
- Summer 2004: First trip to the emergency room
- Summer 2005: Brain surgery
- Summer 2006: “Love at first spreadsheet” – internship with major CPG company which first sparked my interest in analytics
- p.s. those 3 summers is why #everycardcounts has two meanings; hand delivered and tracked/analyzed
I bounced back in 2005 and, thanks to my internship in the summer of 2006, I determined that I officially overcame my brain surgery battle and determined my career goals.
Allen and I worked things out and planned to meet up in the summer of 2016. I was nervous, but had my questions laid out and a couple of prepared answers. We discussed education, analytics, work experience, their company, and wrapped things up. He asked if I had any other questions and I declined. He told me he had one. He asked if I started Cardz for Kidz. My heart sank. I struggled to think of an excuse of what to say; a team of people, only on the weekends, it’s not me, nothing. Discouraged, I began stumbling over my words and admitting while making promises. ‘Sorry, I did start it, but don’t worry, I set it up where it doesn’t interfere with work and…’ I was saying comments like that and he stepped in. He told me not to worry. He heard about me before this meeting through his wife, Kim, the founder of Send A Smile Today. He encouraged me and made me feel that leading this organization was a positive feature about me. What a relief.
After that confirmation, I felt comfortable circling back on some of the early feedback I received and began to put Cardz for Kidz back on my resume and LinkedIn profile to highlight my leadership and service.
It’s even been fun that I’ve been able to send Kim and Allen emails at the same time to get their perspective on topics that cover both sides – data analytics and community involvement.
Originally, I was very concerned about whether or not I could/should open up about my volunteering and service, but after talks with Allen and Kim, I’ve learned that it’s okay to convey BOTH SIDES OF ME.
Picture of Allen and Kim
Based on Allen’s training, I’ve learned to be way more comfortable. During the last interview I had, one of the senior officers’ first few questions was about Cardz for Kidz and my involvement. I answered calmy and confidently this time. Things worked out well. 😉
Please don’t forget that if you’re hosting events and/or making cards, we encourage you to tout it. As noted, here are some ideas on how you can list leading events and/or participating on YOUR resume – https://cardzforkidz.org/on-their-resume.
To see more pictures and stories, please check out the rest of our site, like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our LinkedIn page! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube and view some comments and videos on Great Nonprofits.