It's hard to know what a job is really like until you actually do it. And with an increasing number of job titles and roles emerging in the sector, it's sometimes unclear what people do each day in their particular role. What skills do they use most often and how do they spend their time? What are the biggest challenges in their work? And what would they do differently to prepare for such a position, knowing what they know now? CharityVillage®'s A Day in the Life series gives you a glimpse into the professional lives of people working in a range of jobs in the nonprofit sector.
This month we'd like to introduce you to.....
Name: Ruby Berry
Organization: Georgia Strait Alliance
Size: Seven permanent staff augmented with contractors, summer students and interns
Job title: Salmon Aquaculture Campaign Manager
Education: BA in Psychology. Most of my campaign training was gained through volunteering.
Previous jobs and related activity: Community legal work, women's centre coordinator, councilor, wild fish monger, numerous volunteer positions with environmental and political organizations.
- Public education - drawing attention to the issue, the danger of inaction, and the potential of solution to the problem
- Negotiate solutions with government and industry
- Developing solutions to issues taking into account needs of human communities, as well as ecosystems
- Strategizing and communicating with campaign colleagues. Along with my co-workers in GSA, I work with a coalition of people from several other non-profit organizations, Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform.
||Check email, media alerts, and telephone messages for potential public education opportunities and respond to industry propaganda. The salmon aquaculture campaign has been an active and volatile issue in BC for many years and there is often something in the media requiring attention.
||Write or edit newsletter article or develop campaign materials. There is always an article, brochure, webpage, or presentation to be created or updated.
||Weekly staff call. My colleagues are spread around the Strait of Georgia, so this is essential to stay connected, and up to date with each other.
||Strategy call with colleagues regarding any one of a number of campaign goals. Plan next big public awareness activity.
||Check in with emails, manage unexpected requests from individuals, organizations, media, etc.
||Visit nearby closed containment salmon farm or meet with community organizations, politicians, bureaucrats, who may influence the campaign.
||Respond to email requests for information. Attend to joint projects or communications with colleagues and assess next steps on current campaigns.
I spend most of my time... Communicating! Writing articles, letters, emailing colleagues, talking with groups of concerned citizens, politicians, entrepreneurs, media people, etc. The goal of the campaign is for as many people to understand our concerns and call for solutions as will be necessary to make the change.
Three common challenges:
- The changes we are striving for are often system-wide and therefore are slow to happen. It can feel like we're not getting anywhere. Success is often measured by noticing a shift in language of a presumed or previous opponent, or realizing that a concept or strategy that we've been talking about has become common understanding. This in turn will lead to substantial change.
- There is a need to be immediately responsive to the political climate. Strategies and conditions for change can turn on a dime and the challenge is to be nimble and flexible — to not get stuck in a direction because of time and energy invested. This can also be one of the most exciting parts of the job.
- It can be a challenge not to take the work personally. These are issues that people care deeply about and passions can run high.
Most rewarding moments: It's always a delight when I hear solutions that we've been pushing for that are met with great resistance, come to be commonplace, acceptable concepts. At a recent conference, a colleague and I were congratulated for creating the support and development of a whole new exciting direction in the industry. The people congratulating us had been detractors and opponents of this development for many years. We generally know who our supporters are. The reward occurs when we've convinced the skeptics.
Recommended education to get this job: Get involved with a social action campaign you are passionate about to get hands-on experience; identify strategic thinkers and learn from them; have a solid training in communications. Environmental studies is important for a career in the environmental movement.
Knowing what I know now: If you are looking to work as a campaign director, you should be quick thinking, strategic, thick skinned, personable, very patient and not too attached to your workplan.
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