Over the past few weeks, I have had quite a bit of time to sit with the question, “Why do you want to work in the nonprofit sector?” And to be quite honest I have been wrestling with this question and how to state my reasoning more than I would have ever thought. My struggle is a result of trying to capture my heart and place it in writing. In my best attempts to do so, the following is what has resulted.
I want to make a difference. “Well isn’t that the goal of every nonprofit entity operating today?” you may ask and to that I would respond, “yes.” But my difference is a result of who I am and where I have come from.
On Thanksgiving, I was blessed with the opportunity to sit with my father and grandfather and watch a WWII documentary on the History Channel about the 8th Air Force. I will never forget the emotions played on my grandfather’s face as he watched this documentary. As a veteran, B-17 pilot in 8th Air Force, 34th Bomb Group, he was reliving his history and the pride for the difference that he, along with his fellow brotherhood of airmen, made was evident. This pride I have only seen matched on the face of my father, who battled in a very different war.
His war was the war of collegiate and professional athletics. In 2009, my father was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame for his accomplishments on the field of the famed Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. The difference that he made is unmistakable. The pride he carries is not for himself, but rather for the collective efforts that he was able to make with his team.
I never expect to be in the hall of fame for anything or stare down the ultimate sacrifice in my line of work, but I do expect to make a difference. My enthusiasm for helping others is unmistakable. I find value knowing that my time and talents are able to bless another human being’s life. And that’s it; this is what my three weeks of pondering has come down to – helping to make a difference.
Taylor Saalfeld is a senior at Rockhurst University where she will graduate in May with a BSBA in Marketing and a BA in Nonprofit Leadership. “I would love to combine my Marketing and Nonprofit Leadership Studies Degrees into a position that fuses the two,” she says. “On the for profit side I am looking at positions in cause branding and on the nonprofit side I am looking at marketing positions.” Taylor has already gained considerable marketing and fundraising experience as an intern at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, H&R Block World Headquarters, Home Instead Senior Care Global Headquarters and the Kansas City Wizards. Her hometown is Omaha, NE, and upon graduation she wants to stay in the Midwest, preferably in Kansas City.
Duane’s postscript: The idea for using guest bloggers came last month when I spoke at a university class of young people preparing for careers in the nonprofit sector. I offered each student the opportunity to share why he or she had chosen to pursue a career in the nonprofit world. Read more here: Introducing Student Guest Bloggers.