Whenever I receive subscriber reports for our newsletter, I always look for the reasons our readers give when they unsubscribe. When the space is filled in with “I got a job!” I like to reach out with my congratulations. Sometimes, it results in a story!
One such job seeker is Morgan Dorsch, who serves as a Development Associate at Hazon, and organization that works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a healthier, more sustainable world for all. Morgan works in Hazon’s New York office, supporting both foundation and individual fundraising. Prior to joining the organization she was a Program Associate at a private foundation (which she also found on Idealist).
If you too are engaged in a job search while being employed full-time, read on to learn how Morgan did it!
Great to meet you, Morgan and congratulations on your new position!
I understand you were already employed while you were looking this time around. How long were you looking for a job? How do you feel that affected your job search or ability to search?
Yes, I was working at a Foundation. I started my search in September 2014, and found the listing for this job on Idealist in December 2014. I was hired and started late January 2015. It’s really hard to look and be working at the same time. It was only my second job search, outside of internships. Finding my first job was easy because I had just been in college and had the whole summer to look.
It’s so hard when you are working full time because you can’t do it during the day and then you get home and you are so exhausted. However, the fact that I had a job already was helpful in getting hired this time around. While there are a lot of “entry level” jobs out there, once you have a job under your belt and you apply for other entry level jobs, it seems like you get more notice.
I was a lot pickier the second time around because I did have that cushion (of already being employed). I applied to ten jobs a day after college until I got hired. This second time, I only applied for about ten jobs total within a few months’ time.
What advice would you give to someone who is searching for a new position while still on the job?
You have to prioritize it, the way you would eating or hanging out with friends. Put it on your calendar. It’s easier to apply for jobs if you know that when you’re going home, that’s what you’re going to do.
What were you looking for specifically in a new job?
I was looking specifically for fundraising because I was at a foundation before. I felt terrible saying “no” to people when I was in that role. I wanted to be on the other side of that. I was looking for a mission that I believed in and an organization that had values that align with my values
What was the hiring process like?
I had a phone interview during the day so I had to go out of my office. I walked around the block a lot while I was on the phone! Then I had an in-person interview, they checked my references, and I was hired!
I didn’t realize how many organizations like having phone interviews first- even when you’re a local candidate- but I guess it’s easier to weed out who you want and to manage your time effectively.
There were other interviews I was scheduled for after I accepted this position so I canceled those.
That’s the advice I would give!
What role did Idealist.org and Idealist Careers play in your job search?
I got the newsletters with all the articles and I would look through them. The one that I really remember is about finding a job during the holiday season. I thought no one would be looking to hire. There was a lot of encouragement about applying during the holidays.
I see that worked in your favor since you got the job around holiday time!
Have you used Idealist and Idealist Careers in previous job searches or to find volunteer or internship opportunities?
Yes, I looked at internships on Idealist and I used to be a volunteer for a grassroots nonprofit, which I discovered on Idealist. And I recommend Idealist to all my friends when they are looking for jobs because it’s helped me so much.
What career advice do you wish you had while you were looking for work?
There are a lot of job descriptions that have software requirements. If you don’t know the software, you shouldn’t write off that job entirely. Find someone in your network who knows that software or computer skills and ask them to teach you, so you can say that you know how to use it.
That’s what I did. I didn’t know anything about databases before I started my search, but I knew a lot of people who used Salesforce and Raiser’s Edge. So I asked someone to help me. During my interview, they actually had me take a test for Salesforce.
What attracted you to Hazon?
I definitely love the organizational culture- that is my favorite part of the job. Everyone is very friendly and it feels like a family sometimes. We have snack time on Thursdays.
In college, I did a program where you double major in a Jewish program and a secular program, so I was a Bible major and I also majored in Environmental Biology. When you think that your interests won’t align, it’s amazing when you see them in one organization. I thought I would go the completely secular route for my career and do research. I was not thinking of doing anything Jewish-related after all. But doing environmental research was kind of lonely and I didn’t get to talk to or interact with many people, so I thought that doing nonprofit work would satisfy that need.
I knew about Hazon for a while, so I think as soon as I saw the job post, I was like “this is it, this is the one’.” And it worked out! Luckily they felt that way about me too.
What was more important to you- the cause area or the type of role/job function (or both)?
Both, but I think the cause area might be more important. That might be because I wanted to go into fundraising. You don’t go into fundraising for an organization with a mission you don’t believe in.
Now that you are the person doing the asking, how does it feel?
It feels more humbling to ask, and I think it’s easier to not take it personally when I get a no. I think working at a foundation gave me more insight and an upper hand in fundraising. Knowing how things work, knowing what kinds of things foundations look for, has definitely influenced my grant writing. I work on some grants by myself but I have not gone out to big donors yet.
What’s your favorite Hazon program?
We do a weekend bike ride on Labor Day weekend. Participants stay at our retreat center in CT. You don’t think about riding bikes and Judaism as going together, but we make it work. The event brings together people who are really religious and some who are not religious but are interested. I think it’s the thing that builds the community the most, of all the ones that brings the community together.
Our next Hazon Ride & Retreat takes place Labor Day Weekend. It's a fully-supported ride, fundraiser, and community experience for people of all cycling levels and ages.Based at the Isabella Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut, guests enjoy delicious, kosher, farm-to-table food, engaging educational workshops, fun outdoor activities, and two days of cycling around the beautiful Berkshires.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
For awhile I wanted to be a veterinarian because I liked animals, but cutting animals open and giving them shots seemed unpleasant. After that, I wanted to be a “weather girl” because I’ve always been interested in the weather. I still check the weather multiple times a day.
What got you interested in pursuing a nonprofit career (in general)? And specifically in development?
I grew up with really strong values of trying to help the world. I was really involved in youth group in high school, and that instilled a big desire to leave the earth better than you found it. In college, I had a fellowship in social justice and we did a lot of nonprofit work and different missions, which peaked my interest.
Also, fundraising and event planning go hand-in-hand, and planning events is something I’ve always enjoyed. I was THE organizer of events for my friends in college. We didn’t just get together- we had themed dinners!
How have your volunteer experiences contributed to your career or helped you make career decisions?
In between college and my first job I had a lot of time on my hands so I was frequently volunteering. I did a ton of random projects with New York Cares. There were a couple of volunteer assignments that really gave me better skills. There was one where we would just call people. Nowadays, calling people can be really intimidating and we would just call and call and call people. Now I’m not as apprehensive about it. I feel it improved my phone skills.
What steps have you been taking in your position to help you achieve your overall career goals?
My overall goal right now is going towards the path of a development director. I’ve been slowly getting there by accumulating more responsibility. I take on responsibility for projects that weren’t my own before, and now they are. Whenever I hear of a new project, I offer myself as the point person. I also have a really great supervisor who sends articles and information about classes to me when she finds things she thinks will be helpful.
How do you manage your work/life balance?
At my last job, everyone left at 5pm, and I continue that in my next job. I try to leave on time. Most projects can definitely wait until the next day. If something has to get done that day, I get it done, but normally, most things can wait for the next day. I “calendarize” everything- even events I am interested in that I see on Facebook. And I’m on a social kickball team now. If you don’t show up and your team doesn’t have enough players to participate, you automatically forfeit the game,... so you don’t want to be that person!
How have your responsibilities increased over time?
I’ve been proactive about it. The people around me are also interested in seeing my growth and see my potential. That’s good- I know that doesn’t happen everywhere.
What is your favorite part about your work?
I like getting feedback about our events especially when I get to see it beyond surveys or forms, like when an attendee sends in a donation after an event, with a note that they had a good time.
It seems you have experience both in administrative functions and direct community involvement. What are some ways you see your impact when you’re not out in the community?
Seeing the notes and letters that come in with donations are really great. There was one time when we saw probably the smallest amount in a check that we’ve probably ever seen, it was something like $4.11. It was from a young child who saved up his allowance money and sent it with a note that the money was to help the farmers. We have a farm at our retreat center in Connecticut, and we use that space for a fellowship called Adamah: The Jewish Farming Fellowship.
One time, we had someone write in after eating non-Fair Trade chocolate and said he felt bad about it, so he sent in a donation to “rectify” it.
You can really see the impact of your organization in that it affects people in their day-to-day life choices, as opposed to just sending in a donation and forgetting about the mission.
Thank you for speaking with us today, Morgan! Please keep us posted about Hazon’s work and upcoming events!
By Victoria Crispo