Thanks for having a great podcast. You must be proud to know that your information improves work and performance throughout the world.

I am 48 years old and a recent business grad. My experience so far has been in IT and non-managerial. I am looking for a way to cross over to the management side. Taking your advice, I have been working on developing my relationship with several recruiters and expanding my network and that is going well.

My problem is that I am still short in the experience department. My thoughts are to volunteer my services to a local small business association in order to develop my skills and resume. As a side benefit it would expand my network.

Does this seem like a reasonable approach or do you have any other suggestions?


ctomasi's picture

Don't give up Dan!

I've been in IT as a Sys Admin (and variants thereof) for 17 years. Once the opportunity presented itself I dove in with both feet. The timing was right and MT was there to help. You may have to look outside your current employer for an opportunity, but I would at least let them know you are interested so they can keep you in mind if something does come up.

Like the commercial on TV says "Life comes at your fast". MT will definitely help you be prepared.

Mark's picture
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Glad you're wanting to grow your responsibilities!

I don't see this as "crossing over"... you just want to get promoted, right?

[b]The rule for promotions is always the same: do your present job exceptionally well. [/b]

A lot of people mistakenly believe that to get promoted you have to show you can do the next job well. While that makes sense, it's only partly true. Most promotion decisions are based on present job performance, with an eye towards how you might do the next. (This is mostly true at non-executive roles).

There's nothing wrong with thinking about management, and showing that you can communicate well, work with all types of folks, and handle multiple responsibilities. But if that takes your eye off of your primary responsibilities, it's a mistake for a promotion.

What's more, it's quite difficult to go from non-management in Company A to management in Company B. It's just not done very much. If you think there are no management opportunities where you are, you'll probably need to go to another place. And make sure they know that you have management aspirations during the hiring process.

I think it's fine to volunteer - good idea. Just don't let it take away from what will get you promoted. Experience is good... but results are the key.


ddildine's picture

Thank you gentlemen and your comments make perfect sense.

I agree that looking outside of my current company will probably be the best bet. I am fortunate to be in an excellent and stable position so time is on my side for once.

Keep up the good work on the podcasts Mark.

Judging by the rule of reciprocity, if you ever had the need of an army of volunteers for any project, you would be amazed at the number of faithful followers that would ally to your cause.

Mark's picture
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Glad we were helpful. Please keep us posted on your efforts.

Thanks for the kind words as well. Mike and I are thrilled at the response to our work, and hope to build even stronger community bonds going forward.

We're planning on asking everyone to vote for us in the People's Choice podcast awards this month... look for an email and a mention on our next show.

It's a privilege to serve you,


sklein's picture

I have similar aspirations.

I am a 27 year old military spouse with a BA and an MBA. My career goal is to direct a nonprofit organization, possibly on a regional scale, whose mission I am passionate about. I started working towards my goal while still in school by volunteering, which helped lead to a great position as an assistant to the director of a local branch of a national nonprofit. The director was an excellent role model and very supportive of my goal. Of course, we PCSd after seven months on the job and now I am starting over again.

In our new area, I have been hired by another nonprofit in an entry level position. Three weeks after I started, my manger resigned. Of course I applied for the position, and I discovered your podcast while preparing for the interview. I have managed short term projects only, and the directors felt that was not enough experience to warrant my promotion. The position has been offered to someone outside of the organization. While listening to your podcasts I began doubting the ability of the directors in my organization to manage effectively, both have been on the job less than one year. I have also found my entry level job frustrating and difficult to perform because of lack of direction from above and lack of authority in the position.

I am trying to decide if I should get out now, after two months in the position, or to stick it out and hope the new manger improves the situation. The directors know my career goal and state they would like to start “growing their own.” The organization is worldwide and could potentially be very rewarding both professionally and emotionally.

Do you recommend I stay in the position? How do I get my foot in the door as a manager without any management experience? I know you said the key to a promotion is to do the current job exceptionally well, but that is proving to be difficult.

Thank you.

Mark's picture
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Sorry this has taken me so long.

It's pretty hard to make a recommendation of stay or go based on this level of information. It depends upon the caliber of the organization, which I can't speak to.

I would recommend - preliminarily - that you stay for the time being, while also getting ready to go. (Getting ready to go means getting your resume ready and reaching out to relationships you may have at other non-profits or creating similar new relationships).

No sense in leaving before the new boss comes in, for two reasons. First, it's going to take some time to go through a new search. Why not continue to get paid? Further, what if the new boss is a great developer of people? What if she really wants to grow your skills? AND, you'll probably get some opportunities for projects that they almost have to give to you, lacking someone else. (So WHAT if you're a last resort? The issue at this point in your career is experience.)

It's a privilege to serve you - and thanks for supporting your spouse's service to our country.


sklein's picture

Thank you for your reply. I was coming to the same conclusion and made some calls about volunteer training with the two other nonprofs that I am interested in. I made some promising connections. I'll get my resume ready and work on those new relationships.

As for the caliber of my current organization: it is great on a national scale, but somewhat stagnant here locally.

The new manager starts tomorrow. I am hoping for a real winner. Even with my frustration, I do truly enjoy the work; I am just having a hard time admiring the directors.

My husband and I both thank you for the work that you do. He also listens and the information is especially helpful now that he is gaining more management responsibility.

Mark's picture
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Glad to help (both of you).

If you ever want some insight into non-profits, send me a private message if you like. Let me know who you work for, and I'll tell you which are the ones that have impressed me in various ways.


Dani Martin's picture
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Sklein --
It's been about 3 weeks since your post. Hopefully you're finding your job and your new directors more tolerable, even enjoyable. :)
I have worked for the American Cancer Society for more than 8 years (it's how I met Mark and have the privelege of hearing a lot of his stuff in person!!). I also started off in an entry-level job am am so glad I have stuck with it. Not only is the work rewarding and challenging, but one of the benefits in working for a national non-profit is there's lots of opportunity for growth and advancement. As I said, I started 8 years ago as a community rep working directly with local volunteers on fundraising events and progam delivery. I am now a senior director with a $40 million annual goal and a 6 state territory. I'm not saying it's easy, but solid performers can move forward quickly. And being willing to relocate helps too with a national organization.
I'm not sure which non-profit you work with, but there's a lot of really great ones out there. Of course, I think ACS is the best -- we're also the largest -- but the American Heart Association, American Lung Association and American Diabetes Association are all solid, strong organizations, too. We often partner with them on shared health issues.
My final advice would be to give it at least a year because a lot can change in 12 months. I nearly quit, too, during my first 3-4 months but am so glad I didn't!
Good luck!