I know what you are thinking, ‘What on Earth do all of these things have to do with one another?!’ Answer: They have all been an integral part of what has been a most amazing DCSCS exchange experience here at the University of Austin!
While all wonderful in their own way, I did come here – first and foremost – to gain practical experience in the nonprofit management sector. My group, ‘Team United’ (Yes Reader, this IS an original name!!) has been tasked with looking particularly at the ‘President’s Cabinet’ of United Way Capital Area (Austin). The group serves as something akin to an ‘internal advisory board’, comprised of approximately 14 skilled volunteers from a cross-section of the community. They have come together to advise the organization’s Executive Director on a wide array of issues, ranging from public relations strategies to fiscal management. After spending hours interviewing members of the organization, Team United is in the midst of perfecting our second case study draft. The process can be challenging and tedious at times, but we are really beginning to see the fruits of our labour come together!
We have also begun brainstorming ideas for the accompanying Teaching Notes, in addition to structuring a lesson that will really bring out the key management issues that we are focusing on: transitional leadership and managing skilled volunteers. The entire experience so far has really been an unparalleled opportunity to not only gain theoretical knowledge regarding the nonprofit sector, but to get some ‘hands-on’ experience that I am confident will serve me well in my future.
With only 3 weeks left, I will leave Austin with a heavy heart (and a heavy suitcase – so much BBQ sauce to bring back!!). I feel invigorated, inspired, and much more confident in my abilities and understanding of this challenging but rewarding sector. I am curious to see what the future holds, but I will always look for ways to come back to Austin.