During my two years at El Pomar Foundation, I built an incredible base for my career. I developed a network of lifelong mentors and friends; I was able to find a job that matched my passions and skillset; and I learned how to be a professional.
Here are the things that I cherish most from my time in the Fellowship program:
1. Career Support Network
From Day 1 at El Pomar, you are surrounded by accomplished and caring leaders and mentors.
They want you to succeed at El Pomar and beyond, and they are willing to give their time to help you grow. As a Fellow, you have the opportunity to sit in on meetings with Trustees and Senior Staff members on a regular basis. You see how they make decisions with grants, and how they run the organization. I learned so many things just by watching El Pomar’s leadership team, and I appreciate the planning that goes into every El Pomar function.
I knew I was interested in fundraising after I finished the Fellowship, and I utilized the El Pomar network to help me find my dream job. El Pomar’s staff and Fellowship Alumni are gracious with their time, and they are always willing to meet with Fellows to give career advice. I was able to meet with fundraisers in every part of the nonprofit industry thanks to El Pomar connections. I learned about the skills I needed to succeed and the pros and cons of different fundraising roles. These conversations helped me determine that I wanted to be at a university, and I learned what skills universities looked for in their development officers.
2. Soft Skill Development
Fellows excel after El Pomar because we learn about all the little things you to need to be a professional. The Fellowship develops fundamentals that help you shine in any work environment—nonprofit, private, or public sector.
- You learn how to give and receive feedback.
- You practice attending and running meetings.
- You receive public speaking experience.
- You learn how to dress in a professional environment, and you get a good sense about appropriate attire at community functions.
- You get practice navigating social receptions and events.
I think one of the most valuable things I took away from El Pomar was a deep sense of my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. Through personality assessments like the Myers-Briggs assessment and formal feedback from supervisors, peers, and team members, I knew the areas I needed to improve and those where I perform well. Honest feedback is hard to receive, but it helped me grow. I know the areas I need to monitor as I continue developing as a professional, but I also know the best ways for me to add value to a team. The personality assessments also helped me decide on the type of work environment I need to be happy (structured organization, consistent interaction with people, opportunity for leadership on projects).
4. Program Ownership
The Fellowship structure is designed to expand your leadership skills, and I loved the opportunity to lead the Internship program and the Empty Stocking Fund team. It was valuable to get management experience so early in my career – I don’t think very many people have that opportunity. At El Pomar, you get to set goals, lead teams, and execute plans. It is exciting to be able to move programs forward, and you have the support you need to make good decisions. The program ownership also gives you tangible stories to demonstrate how you will excel in your new job after the Fellowship.
5. Community Involvement
I loved meeting the nonprofit community in the state of Colorado. I appreciated every regional trip to northeastern Colorado and my interaction with all of the Empty Stocking Fund organizations. At El Pomar, you get inside access to the amazing work of organizations throughout the state. Most Fellows also pursue the opportunity to join a board of directors, and I was able to join the boards of Court Careand the Colorado Springs Science Center with El Pomar support. Both experiences have helped me learn a different skillset needed to succeed as a community leader.
I would recommend the Fellowship to any individual looking to grow as a leader and professional, and I am incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to be a part of El Pomar Foundation.
The Fellowship Class of 2013