Day in the Life of a Nonprofit Communicator – Teresa Arnold
Welcome to the latest installment in our series on the “Day in the Life” of nonprofit communicators, where we ask you to describe your day in your own words.
We’d love to feature YOU in this series! Don’t be shy – tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.
In 2009 Teresa Arnold happened upon a larger than life image of a contortionist hung in the window of a vacant store in Hartford, CT. This experience set her on the path towards working in the nonprofit sector. Previously unsure of the precise graduate program to pursue, she set about the business of obtaining a master’s degree in arts administration at the University of Oregon where her learning was focused on the intersection of arts and culture and sustainable communities. She concurrently worked towards a certificate in nonprofit management.
Now, Teresa is the Development Communications Assistant for Manchester Community College Foundation, which advances the academic, economic, and personal growth of diverse populations by securing funding to assist the college in achieving its mission to provide accessible, relevant, and affordable higher education.
Outside of work, Teresa enjoys time with her toddler and remembering how magical the world is through such young eyes. She also enjoys farmer’s markets, brewery visits, and DIY projects around the house.
And this is her typical day:
Before 8:00 a.m. – I’m awake by 6:00 a.m. daily, but with an 18-month-old sometimes I’m up at 5:00. Today, though, he slept in and I was able to get dressed without him demanding to be held.
I’m a lucky duck and have a husband who rises to respond to our giant cat staring at him for food. Since he’s up anyway my hubs will make us all oatmeal and gets my coffee thermos ready for the day.
There’s a myriad of tasks that occur in the hour before I get out the door at 7:30 a.m. to bring the babe to daycare and get myself to work. Most days I’m at the office by 8:00 a.m., a half hour earlier than I need to be.
I’ll find a 10-20 minute office workout video to do since I’m the first one into the office and this is my window of opportunity for movement!
I’ll also add some peppermint, spearmint, or wintergreen essential oil to my diffuser – it’s a happy pick-me-up in the morning and my colleagues enjoy the aromatherapy.
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m – At 8:30 a.m. the e-mail scanning begins, flagging anything I need to give some attention. Generally, I’ll get back to those later in the day and get started writing while my head is clear and fresh and the coffee in my thermos is hot.
Currently, I’m working on content for our annual report. I work at a large community college and faculty tend to be off contract in the summer, so gathering their recommendations for student stories can be a challenge. Luckily we also facilitate the scholarship program, and I design the required essay questions such that they elicit responses with some useful storytelling elements.
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Every other week I connect with our graphic designer, our marketing team representative, and the public relations director for an hour to discuss upcoming projects, timelines, and ideas. I have a two-week deadline for handing over a draft of content for the annual report, so that will be a focal point on the agenda.
On other days I may view a webinar or participate in a program we call “Leadership Academy” – our system’s approach to developing leaders to fill the leadership gaps leftover from attrition.
Did I mention I live in CT? Our state is facing major budget challenges which spells looming (and generally unwelcome) changes for our public colleges and state workers. On the upside of that, however, is the messaging we are receiving from donors and scholarship recipients. They are passionate about the impact of our programs, and that makes my job a bit easier!
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – Time to check the email again, send a few responses and get back to writing.
About now I’ll remember that I’m behind on my water intake goals and get a few good gulps in. (I downloaded an app to remind me to do this).
I’ll likely log on to a webinar or peruse the blog tips that have arrived in my email for a little inspiration as I head into the afternoon.
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – A bit more writing and then my mind will start to wander. It’s a good time to start my priority list for the next day.
On Fridays, I’ll work on my list for the following week.
This is also a good time to check the college’s news and social media sites, draft a post, and brainstorm for future posts.
After 4:00 p.m. – At 4:00 p.m. I’m off to pick-up the babe at daycare, or if my hubs is on, I scurry home hoping for a few minutes of time to take care of a couple of chores uninterrupted. The next couple of hours are dedicated to snack time, playtime, dinner, bath, and bedtime for the little guy.
At about 8:30 p.m. I am free to fit in some reading, work on our budget, or one of my favorites – plan my next house project via Pinterest (for ideas) and Amazon (for products). I almost never shop at brick and mortar stores anymore. If you have ever had a toddler you know why!
By 10:00 p.m. my eyes are drooping and it’s off to sleep for me, pinned between a 7lb cat on my right and a 26lb cat on my left. This is the moment they’ve been waiting for since I got home.
Thanks for sharing your day, Teresa!
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