Materials Scientist to Non-profit Grants Manager

Career Change from Materials Scientist to Non-profit Grants Manager

August 2010

Hi Anthony,

I’m very excited to be able to write to let you know that I accepted a new job last week for a local nonprofit as their National Grants Manager. They offer pro bono services to immigrant and refugee women who are seeking asylum in the U.S. because they are not being protected from gender-based violence (domestic violence, forced marriage, honor killings, trafficking, etc.) by the governments in their home countries.

When you and I were meeting, you assigned me an exercise related to Mission & Purpose. You probably don’t remember, but at that time, I wasn’t able to complete the exercise. Even after a lot of careful thought and reflection, I felt that I didn’t have the answer to the question, and I couldn’t really even relate to the two ideas. Today, I can tell you clearly what my Mission & Purpose are, and it is to spend my life helping to empower other women. It’s almost like a divining rod – when I think about the idea, it resonates with me in a way that nearly makes me physically tingle. It’s pretty cool.

As the grants manager, I’m going to be nearly single-handedly responsible for researching opportunities, deciding which to go after, and creating proposals to grow their funding stream – very similar to the business development work I was doing already. No financial stuff, which is good since I don’t like managing budgets. So it seems like a fit in terms of both mission and the role I’ll be playing, and I’m really looking forward to it. As an added bonus, the office is only 1-1/2 miles from my house – no commute!

It’s pretty amazing and exciting to see all my efforts come to fruition. It’s like I told my boyfried – “I feel like I’ve been chasing the bear for a while, and now I’ve actually caught it – and I almost can’t believe that I did it!”

After I accepted the position, I went back and looked at my Pathfinders e-Notebook with all my career specs, and it’s almost eerie how much of a match there is – spending my day doing research, analysis, and “explaining” (which is essentially what business development, and my new position, entails), wanting to work with cool people who are into good work and not BS, wanting to do work where I’m “needed” and where I can see a clear impact on the population I’m helping, even down to the aspect of not wanting to commute.

I took a pretty significant pay cut – I make about half of what I was making, but I also definitely make enough to live off of without worry. The other way to look at that is to say that I’ve found work that I am pretty sure I’ll really love, and someone is actually paying me to do it, which is exciting.

I’m still not sure what exactly I’ll be doing in another five years, but I feel like this is an outstanding start, and I’m excited for this job and this organization and to see where this will lead me.

I hope all is well on your end and that you are enjoying the summer and continuing to help others find their best fit careers. I will certainly keep in touch and let you know how things continue to go!

Thank you again for your role in supporting me through this transformation. I honestly would not have ended up at this point if I hadn’t met you. When people ask me how I got to be where I am, your name is always a part of the conversation.

Very best regards

Michelle, Ph.D.