UNA-USA Leadership Summit: 5 Tips to Kickstart Your Career

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By: Stephanie Metherall, UNA-USA Youth Engagement Intern

This year’s UNA-USA Leadership Summit featured a Career Panel with Lanice Williams, Program Specialist with the Government of the District of Columbia; Kerith Iverson, Public and Governmental Affairs Officer, Quebec Government in Chicago; and Ryan Kaminski, Sr. Program Manager for Human Rights & Special Initiatives, UNA-USA. In case you missed it, we’ve summarized the top 5 career tips for you!


1.     Learn balance. It’s tough to separate your work and personal time when you can carry your entire work life in your pocket. Make sure you’re not sacrificing your free time and sanity for the job. Better yet, find a job you love so much that it becomes a hobby you actually want to spend a little extra time doing. If you love running, might as well get involved with Nothing But Nets and run for a great cause!

2.     Be flexible. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself into areas just because you majored in something similar. You’re allowed to change your mind and try something new. This is the best time to learn what you don’t want to be doing, and you might only figure that out by having a job that you hate.

3.     Reach out. Attend conferences like the UNA-USA Leadership Summit, where you’ll meet other young people, professionals, and people who have been working in your field for their entire lives. Email speakers, people you meet, and people you work with; you might even find a lifelong mentor! Volunteer to get involved in work that interests you. Most importantly, find a role model and ask how they got where they are.

4.     Become a pro intern. You might be unpaid, but internships offer invaluable professional experience and are a great way to increase your network. Always go above and beyond to give your supervisor (and everyone else) a million reasons to give you an awesome reference. Don’t think that being unpaid or “just an intern” is a reason to burn bridges on your way out; the non-profit community is small and very connected.

5.      Don’t panic! It might take a few horror stories, but everyone finds their fit. Just remember to stay focused, engage yourself, and build your professional network. And if ever you find yourself feeling down about your job search, remember that it took Leo five nominations (and 22 years) to win an Oscar.

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