When Sarah Quattrochi was a student at UTC and writing a paper on the Tennessee River Gorge Trust, she had no idea that several years later she would be working as the outreach and development director for the same non-profit organization. Quattrochi, a graduate of the Public Administration and Non-Profit Management program (PANM) at UTC, joined several of her fellow alumni and spoke on a panel to address current students. The professionals explained what everyone should know before they begin their non-profit careers.
“The PANM program has been so valuable to me. I’ve directly applied things I’ve learned from classes to my job,” she said.
Quattrochi was joined by: David Haddock, Director of Development for the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera; Katrina Craven, Public Relations and Marketing Director at the Hunter Museum of American Art; Ivan Patton, Volunteer Manager at Goodwill Industries; and Ryan Fugate, Associate Campaign Director at United Way of Greater Chattanooga.
The panel touched on several topics relevant to current college students, including how to present yourself on social media.
“One thing I would like to stress is to be very careful as to what you put out there on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. A non-profit is based on who you are and what you do in the community. If I was to go out and do something that’s not looked well upon, the next thing it’s in the newspaper and the organization you’re with is paying for it. You can’t be two separate people. You can’t be a different person at work and your personal life,” Fugate said.
Though students will have to be careful about the image they portray once they begin working in the field, according to Quattrochi, they will enjoy a lot of diversity in the job positions and opportunities at non-profits.
“I was terrified when I was offered the job at the land trust. I didn’t have an environmental science or biology background. I just had to figure it out as I went along, and that’s the opportunity you have at a lot of non-profits. I’ve gotten experience in outreach, education, and development,” she said.
Craven, who previously worked at the Tennessee Aquarium, advised student to take a big risk.
“Oftentimes, in the non-profit world, budgeting and staffing is tight, but don’t be afraid to take a big risk. I think sometimes when we feel under pressure, we’re afraid to try to something different. But you can try that new program, you can do something different. You have more freedom than you think,” she said.
Patton, who worked several jobs before taking a job at Goodwill Industries, said he can’t imagine doing anything else.
“Non-profits are powerful, and power is addictive. Once you’ve had the opportunity to change someone’s life for the better, you’re never going to want to do different things. I’ve got the best job in the world working with at-risk youth. So, choose your job wisely because before you know it, you’ll be hooked,” he said.
David Haddock echoed Patton on the power of non-profits.
“The world does not go round without non-profits. Chattanooga is a great example of the difference you can make at a non-profit. We wouldn’t be the city we are if it wasn’t for private investment and capital, and volunteering to build this place. When I was growing up here, there was nothing downtown. In the last twenty years, the city has changed so dynamically and it’s because people decided they wanted to change and reinvent Chattanooga,” he said.
To make a difference, Haddock said students need to have passion, the most important thing to succeed in a non-profit career.
“You can make such an impact on people’s lives, you won’t want to do anything else. It’s an incredibly rewarding career. You don’t want to end up in a job in a cubicle staring at a computer being miserable. Life is way too short to not to do what your passionate about. So if you’re passionate about non-profits, go do it,” he said.