Student Feature: Alexandria Hernandez Mann, AEMM major


Work that Matters: the 2013 Non-Profit Career Fair is November 12th. In the lead-up to the fair, we will be featuring stories from students and alumni who did great work for a great cause. Today, Alexandria Hernandez Mann (senior in AEMM) tells us about her experience working with The Nature Conservancy.

Tell us a little about the organization:

The Nature Conservancy is a global non-for-profit with at least one office in each state and offices in over 30 countries. Their mission is to conserve the land and water in which enable us to live. I was an intern with their mid-west marketing office. They oversaw the marketing for Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Missouri.

What were some of the main projects/initiatives you worked on with the organization?

I worked with two different legs of the office as a liaison- the production manager and the web manager. Working with the production manager, I created deadlines for upcoming projects, including working with the donation forms in the semi-annual newsletter for each state.

One of my other projects for the Marketing Manager was to communicate between the office and the company they had hired to create banner for their upcoming Picnic at the Park event. The last major project I worked on with the Marketing Manager was ordering bandanas for all Illinois environmental volunteers. My responsibilities included working with the graphic designer, creating deadlines for the designer and staff edits, calling the printing company, and updating the Marketing Manager the status of the project.

When I had time in between projects I assisted the Web Manager with photo archiving. The Nature Conservancy is very big on keeping their members up to date on the success of events or new additions to their land preserves-as any non-for-profit should- through photo documentation. Being the mid-west branch of a global organization with multiple offices in Illinois alone, they have a ton of photos to be archived for later use. My responsibility was to add metadata to the photo via Photoshop. This metadata included details like photographer, date taken, location, file name, and most importantly keywords associated with the picture. Those key words play a huge role. When they were in the midst of producing a publication or Discovery was doing a special on one of the reserves they needed to be able to pull up a photo at any given time. I would get through about 70 pictures and, sometimes, over a 100 a day.

Do you want to work for a non-profit in the future? How did this experience impact your long-term goals?

I would love to work for a non-profit! The main draw to me is the culture. In for-profit businesses and organizations everything feels pretty heartless with money on the mind. In a non-profit it is the mission that drives the organization, thus, the people are there because they choose to be. Sometimes non-profits don’t have a lot of money to spend on staff, so salaries can be average or below average. One of the office staff at the Nature Conservancy was paid through a grant and as soon as the grant ran out, or if it wasn’t renewed, he was let go. This did concern me, being that I am already in debt up to my eyeballs. But he really loved what he was doing. He told me that when he was let go he wasn’t going to be upset, a little stressed, maybe, but he was so happy to have worked for an organization that aligned with his values.

After working with the Nature Conservancy I now take into consideration of the mission and values of each company or organization I take part with.

Have you developed content or experienced successes that you can use in your resume or portfolio?

The real problem is trying to figure out which ones to put on the resume. I have so many applicable experiences that I would love to include on my resume but space is limited! I highly recommend seeing Christie before applying for a big girl/boy job.

Why do you think students should consider getting involved with non-profit organizations?

Working with a non-profit is completely different mindset of working. Your motives will need to align with theirs or you will not enjoy the experience. If you are hoping to be rich fast, non-profits are not for you.

Check back for additional student features, and mark your calendars for Work that Matters on November 12th! A diverse group of non-profits from around Chicago will be recruiting volunteers, interns and employees.

We bet you’ve done some great work too. Share your jobs, internships, and volunteer experiences via our Success Campaign.