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Job Seeker Success Story: How Building My Network Helped Me Find a Job

A sign that says, "Your new career."

Vanessa Christiansen has been serving the Miami community through her time of service in AmeriCorps, and her last two full-time, paid positions (both of which were found on Idealist). She found her current job, the Volunteer, Intern, and AmeriCorps Coordinator for Switchboard Miami, by utilizing her network and staying active in her community.

Here, Vanessa gives some guidance for those who want to serve a community through their career.

When did you start your job search and what were you looking for when you came to Idealist?

I originally found myself on Idealist upon the restructuring of the last organization I was with. This had been a wonderful opportunity, also found on, which let me hone some of the skills I had started developing as an AmeriCorps member with City Year. As an Operations Associate I dealt with the day-to-day management of the office but also performed school visits to oversee the implementation of a grant for an after-school club in high schools. Serving with City Year as a corps member, I had the opportunity to be placed with a service-learning program for middle school and high school youth.

At the time, my job had me working with high school juniors and seniors on college readiness, so it was fantastic to be able to continue with youth and to work alongside City Year members in the schools and serve youth in a different capacity. After that, I began looking at Idealist for positions which would give me a way in which to use the skills and experiences from both roles in one. I was incredibly lucky, given the current state of affairs for employment in Miami, that less than 3 months went by until I found the listing for the position I am in now.

Tell us about your new job and the organization. What will you be doing?

I am the Volunteer, Intern, and AmeriCorps Coordinator with Switchboard of Miami. Switchboard of Miami, established in 1968, counsels, connects, and empowers people in need. In my current role, I oversee the recruitment and management of most non-employee personnel including AmeriCorps, volunteers, and non-clinical interns. In this position I wear many different hats since the daily activities of this includes elements of Human Resources, grant management, reporting, relationship building, training, leadership, and more. It is great being part of a team at an established, local non-profit organization where I get to continue working for the greater good while directly overseeing AmeriCorps.

What do you think helped you land this job?

I think several different factors helped me since I have been with the nonprofit sector in many different capacities throughout the year, from being direct care personnel at a nonprofit for individuals with different abilities to operations to my current role. For example, having grant management experience from my previous role where I oversaw the reporting and compliance of a grant of over $150,000. The fact I am an AmeriCorps alum and a vocal national service advocate really helped. This role encompasses all the traits I wanted to focus on and build at this point in my career.

How can someone with similar passions break into the field?

Network and attend as many events as you can frequented by those in the field. I think something which helps me to this day is that I have been building my network in Miami consistently for the last couple years. Hand out your business cards and beef up your LinkedIn profile. In Miami, it is frequently who you know and sometimes jobs aren’t event posted. This is why it helps to have people who may guide you to that obscure post or tell you to look at Idealist since something there caught their eye and made them think of you.

What other advice do you have for job seekers?

Volunteer and be active in your community. Not only does volunteering help you give back and support whoever you are serving but it also shows that you are engaged and care about the well-being of your city. I think that this is incredibly important for nonprofit work, because if you don’t care either way you might want to reconsider if the public sector is for you.

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By Aaron McCoy

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