Hi everyone, I am the program manager of a social impact investment fund at a non-profit. I have 5 years of professional experience, most of the time as a consultant in the private sector. I am looking for job opportunities in economic development, based in New York City. I am happy to share my experience in switching careers with anyone looking to do the same.
Andrea Ramirez escaped consulting to become a fellow with http://www.kiva.org/start" rel="nofollow">Kiva.org and works with an NGO in El Salvador.
I'd be happy to chat with anyone interested in being a Kiva Fellow, or even if you want to make a shift within the same company you're in. Happy to share what I've learnt in my journey so far.
I am a Kiva Fellow with http://www.kiva.org/" rel="nofollow">Kiva.org working at an NGO in San Miguel, El Salvador. I am helping my organization implement Kiva as one of their sources of founding.
The idea is that by partnering with Kiva, the organization will be able to continue to provide small loans (average of $700) to low-income entrepreneurs in rural communities in El Salvador.
I was a consultant with one of the Big 4 in New York City doing economic consulting for almost 4 years. Although I met great people and had a challenging job, I felt that I needed to do something that mattered beyond the money.
I had been on a quest for a couple of years. Unsure about where I could have an impact and leverage the skills I had learned in the private sector, I decided that volunteering could be the best way to figure things out.
I saw the posting for the Kiva Fellows opportunity on EscapetheCity and saw that I had a couple of weeks to apply. I thought I had nothing to lose, and honestly didn't think I had a chance.
At the same time, I reached out to someone who was at the time a Kiva Fellow to see what he thought about my chances. He encouraged me to apply, and now I am a Kiva Fellow serving with a microfinance institution in El Salvador!
One day I was so done with consulting that I gave in my resignation, but I was offered to take a sabbatical instead.
During that time I concluded that I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, but I also knew I couldn't go back to the same thing. I worked with my employer to find a new role within the firm, but one that allowed me the luxury of more free time to think.
During the next 9 months I researched every possible career interest I had, but nothing seemed to really fit.
I had always been interested in the non-profit sector, but had no experience in it. I figured I would invest some time to explore it, rather than read about it. I started to submit my resume for volunteering positions. I then saw the posting for the Kiva Fellowship on this site, and just went for it. A couple of weeks later I also heard back from another microfinance institution I had applied to, and as the two opportunities started to come together I decided to hand in my resignation.
The best has been to learn about microfinance and see its impact on the ground. Meeting clients and the people who work out on the field has been life changing. It's also been great to finally make the jump and do something I always wanted to do - instead of wondering and wishing I was one of those people who do that really cool thing!
The worst has been the lack of financial stability and the fear of the unknown. I haven't figured everything out yet about what's next, but for some reason I feel OK with that. The feeling is still better than being miserable at a job I didn't love.
Just go for it. Even if you're not ready at the moment, you'll get ready as you're at it.
This site is truly awesome. If I didn't see the posting here I probably wouldn't have seen it in time to apply.
I also read http://www.amazon.com/Could-Anything-Only-Knew-What/dp/0440505003" rel="nofollow">"I could do anything If I only knew what it was" by Barbara Sher. Although it didn't have answers for me, it was helpful to know I was not the only one feeling the way I did.