Tuesday, November 20, 2007

EPIP Feature: A View From the Field
by an anonymous program officer

"What's the best career background for a foundation program officer?" This is a question I've been thinking about a lot, as the foundation I work for begins to hire a new program officer. Naturally, the answer depends a lot on the foundation in question and how it does its work. That said, the question makes me think about my experiences and what's been most useful to me where I work.

I came to the foundation world a couple of years ago, so my experience is still pretty limited. Before that, I did lots of different things. I spent a long time teaching as a graduate student while (unsuccessfully) pursuing a doctorate in sociology. I was an evaluation researcher for hire. I worked in information technology for a large not-for-profit. Finally, I worked as a senior administrator for a large not-for-profit. Of these experiences, the skills I draw on the most as a program officer are those I developed while teaching at the college level.

Some of the relevant skills and awarenesses I developed while teaching college students include:
* learning about the responsibility associated with power,
* the ability to read critically,
* clear communication,
* self-reflection,
* the importance of universal standards,
* how to help without giving away the "right" answers, and
* getting comfortable with public speaking.

The guest blogger will address each of these skills separately in individual posts. Stay tuned for these updates!

Are you interested in serving as a guest blogger? Contact jen-at-epip.org today!

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