April 20, 2021

Preoccupations: Volunteer Work as a Path to Full-Time Employment

After graduating from the University of Denver in June 2010, I thought that volunteering, in addition to being worthwhile in its own right, would give me a leg up in the frustrating job market. I was working at Starbucks, and my applications for other jobs were getting me nowhere.

In offering my time to the Firelight Foundation the next February, I hoped that I’d eventually be offered a job. Firelight helps grass-roots organizations in Africa improve the well-being of children, especially those suffering from the effects of H.I.V., AIDS and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

Firelight happens to be based in my hometown, but it was also a perfect match for my career goals. I’d been interested in Africa ever since my first-grade teacher gave a presentation on the subject. I still have a picture from that day that shows me holding an African shield and spear — and beaming. Africa also played a role in my choice of international studies as a major. During my senior year, I spent a semester in Uganda with a program that offered college credit.

I reduced my hours at Starbucks and gave two days a week to Firelight, helping with grant applications. Three months later, Firelight offered me a three-month temporary job that allowed me to become more involved in reviewing such applications. I hoped the contract would be extended and was disappointed when it wasn’t, so I decided to take some time off to help my sister with her wedding plans.

That time gave me an opportunity to reflect, and three weeks later I decided that I wanted to return to Firelight. I knew that there was no guarantee I’d get a permanent job there, but I thought the organization was such a good fit for me. I reasoned that even if I didn’t get a job, I was gaining experience in the field, and I was meeting people who might help me get a paid position elsewhere. And I still wanted to make an impact in the world beyond serving coffee. My heart has always been with Africa, so I couldn’t see myself not volunteering at Firelight.

The organization took me back and added some responsibilities in line with my future goals. For example, I helped with donor prospecting and research so I could learn about grant writing. Six months later, a program assistant moved on and I was offered her position, so my plan ultimately worked.

Now I’ve taken on even more responsibility. I work more closely with the organizations that receive our grants and work with us as partners, and I speak directly to the consultants with whom we contract for mentoring and training groups in Africa.

I have especially liked working with the Imvani Women’s Support Group in Malawi, which helped women establish a bakery in their village. The proceeds have allowed them to pay the staff, to send children to school and to reinvest in the business to open another bakery.

I’M not saying it’s an easy path from volunteer to full-time employee. It took me a year, which some job hunters might not see as a long time, but I had been out of school a year and a half by then. For me, one real benefit of volunteering was that it gave me an opportunity to build a relationship with the staff over time.

If you’re hoping to turn volunteering into a job, you have to be willing to sacrifice. I had to move home after college because I couldn’t afford an apartment on my Starbucks salary. I did what I had to do. When it seemed that things might not work out, I tried to keep a good outlook.

Since getting a full-time position, I’ve moved into an apartment. In my work, I now supervise Firelight volunteers. It felt weird to be a volunteer one day and to be supervising them the next. But since I’ve been in their position, I can give them hope.

As told to Patricia R. Olsen.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/jobs/volunteer-work-as-a-path-to-full-time-employment.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Scalping Battle Putting ‘Fans’ in the Middle

It’s the summer concert season and, as usual, many fans are frustrated that rampant ticket scalping online has made seeing their favorite performer almost as much a frustration as a thrill. But now a new group says it wants to help.

This week a new nonprofit group, the Fans First Coalition, announced itself with a mission of protecting ordinary consumers from predatory ticket scalpers. The group appeared to have broad support from the industry, including prominent artists like R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks, Maroon 5 and Jennifer Hudson.

What fans might not know is that the coalition is financed by Live Nation Entertainment, the parent company of Ticketmaster, and that it has grown out of a lobbying fight between Live Nation and StubHub, the biggest legal online ticket reseller, over control of the multibillion-dollar secondary ticketing market.

Muddying the waters further, there is another group with a confusingly similar name, the Fan Freedom Project, which also claims to represent the interests of consumers. But it is largely financed by StubHub, a division of eBay.

The organizations, which were introduced with the help of Washington public relations firms, are of a sort typically referred to as astroturf groups. They are unusual for the entertainment industry but to political watchdogs, the idea of powerful interests creating apparently populist nonprofits is all too familiar.

“This is a classic,” said Ellen S. Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, which monitors lobbying, “where you find many so-called grass-roots organizations financed by interested industries to fight battles. The campaigns present them as ground-up activities, but they are really nothing more than fronts for particular interests.”

For both sides of the issue, appealing to ordinary fans could help improve longstanding image problems. Anyone can sell tickets on StubHub, but a large portion of its users are brokers, or professional scalpers — not a very beloved constituency. Ticketmaster has long been criticized by fans for the surcharges it adds to tickets (some of which go to pay theaters and promoters).

Over the last decade many states have lifted scalping restrictions, allowing a robust secondary market to develop online. That often pushes ticket prices for the most in-demand shows out of most consumers’ reach, but the market dynamics can also help fans; a StubHub spokesman said that so far this year almost half the tickets there have sold for less than face value.

Both the Fan Freedom Project and the Fans First Coalition say they support basic consumer protections. But they differ over paperless ticketing, a technology that has also become the contentious lobbying issue between Ticketmaster and StubHub, which have spent the last year fighting state by state to influence legislation on ticketing.

Paperless ticketing works like an airline e-ticket, with no traditional ticket printed when a customer places an order. Instead, a fan shows his credit card at the theater box office to enter the show, guaranteeing that the person who originally placed the order is the same one attending the event. 

The technology is favored by Ticketmaster and some artists as an antiscalping measure. But it is viewed as a threat to the market dominance of StubHub, which sold more than $1 billion in second-hand tickets last year.

StubHub and the Fan Freedom Project believe that a ticket should be treated as a commodity to be traded or resold at a buyer’s discretion. “As fans, we should be able to sell or give away our tickets to anyone we choose, anytime we choose, in any way we choose,” the Fan Freedom Project says in its mission statement.

Last year, Ticketmaster failed to prevent a change to New York’s scalping law, supported by StubHub and scalpers, which required that consumers have the option for paper tickets. Similar fights have spread to Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey and Tennessee, and a bill has been introduced in Congress that would prohibit many restrictions on reselling tickets.

“This issue may get settled on K Street rather than Main Street,” said Gary Bongiovanni, the editor of Pollstar, a concert industry trade publication.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=045b7e5a402da0894e4a02a946bd7f86