Hey there fellow fellows! It is always entertaining to learn about each other and work we do 🙂
Comparing to the majority of AtlasCorps fellows I am definitely not in the majority based on the type of work I do but I am still sharing the story. During my first three months at my host organization, I had a hard time finding my place, because the work I was doing wasn’t as challenging as I hoped it would be, and it also didn’t truly fit my professional interests. I even found myself thinking of going home! Feeling the same? Hey, I fixed it and I hope my story inspires you too!

I serve at UniversalGiving, a non-profit organization based in San Francisco. We are located on Montgomery Street at the beautiful coworking space with windows looking over China Town and infamous Transamerica tower.

UniversalGiving has a nonprofit and for-profit side to it. Nonprofit provides an online platform for other nonprofits to promote their projects, and for-profit provides high-quality vetting for corporate clients.

Originally I was placed on the NGO team but I did not feel like it met my professional skills, it was not challenging enough so after three months my host organization proposed to move me to their corporate side to do the financial vetting. I was extremely hesitant at first as I have always thought of myself as a person not suitable for any financial or law-related tasks. I am too fun for that, right? I should be doing social media and event management I thought! 🙂 After giving some time to think, I decided that giving it a try will be better than going home, and I agreed.

My manager and I discussed my frustrations about my at-that-time-current tasks and my expectations for the future months of my fellowship, got in touch with my contact at AtlasCorps, which helped us to brainstorm the ideas and find directions we could explore. We took it step by step, I was giving little tasks on the corporate side at first, slowly increasing workload when I felt comfortable with the tasks. There was a lot of communication with my managers to make sure I am not given tasks that I don’t fully understand or more complicated projects that I have not yet built up a proper base for. Surprisingly, I was very quick at learning and it took a pretty short time for me to complete my full transition to the corporate team. Importantly, my managers did not have expectations of me ending up on the corporate team, this was not the ultimate option but thankfully, it worked out.

And guess what? Four months later after my first day with a corporate team, I was the one training a new employee to do the vetting for our huge corporate client (the name of which I am sure all of you know but I will keep it confidential)!

Reading through international policies, licenses, tax returns, audited financials, and all other money/law-related documentation, talking to organizations on the phone discussing their financials with their treasurers, CFOs and accountants, who would have known that I can feel comfortable with all of it! Now I do! 

This is the last thing I would ever think to do but I am glad the situation forced me to. Like any other AtlasCorps fellow, I am ambitious and I do want to hold high positions in the future, possibly even having my own business. And now, thanks to my unplanned experience with the fellowship at UniversalGiving, I no longer feel intimidated by the important documentation. I feel more confident than ever. Numbers and laws can be fun! 😉

So if your fellowship does not go as planned, try to find the interest in and be curious about non-related fields to your professional experience and interests. They might surprise you! Good luck!

P.S. If you are ever around Transamerica and don’t know where to grab lunch, our office collectively recommends the Chinese restaurant “House of Nanking”, Japanese “Sushi Taki” and Russian “Pushkin”!