By Lauren | May 12, 2016 | 0 Comment
Kailey – spelt Ceilidh in Gaelic – means a gathering of storytellers. When my parents gave me this name there was no way they could have predicted that through the strangeness of the universe I would fall in love with storytelling from a very young age. It is no surprise that I’ve ended up working in marketing and communications where storytelling is at the heart of the work that we do.
Growing up with a mother working in social services, I was always aware of the privilege of my childhood and the tough realities that other families faced. I eventually pursued international travel where I faced the complexity and harshness of poverty. This is what ultimately inspired me to take what I was good at – storytelling – and apply it to the non-profit sector.
Aside from that, I like engaging in discussions around politics, refugee policy, community development, youth labour and reconciliation. I have unhealthy relationships with Game of Thrones, Twitter and Earl Grey tea. I love my dog more than any human should ever love an animal.
I am currently the Communications Officer for Canadian Feed The Children (CFTC). CFTC is an incredible non-profit that works in Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda and First Nations communities in Canada. They partner with local organizations to improve food security and education for children and their communities.
My role is to tell the stories of the impact of our work to our supporters. I receive photographs, interviews and reports from our local partners and I’m responsible for using them to create engaging content. This content is then pushed through specific communication channels to connect with donors and wider audiences.
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Philosophy from the University of Guelph. I was accepted into a handful of creative writing courses throughout my time there and I was lucky enough to be mentored by some incredible Canadian authors. Those experiences really helped fine tune my writing skills and gave me a better sense of self as a writer.
Around the same time I was working as a sports writer for the university’s athletic department where I was introduced to working in the communications field. Once I graduated I decided to pursue a Post-Graduate Certificate in Corporate Communications at Sheridan College. The program helped build my confidence and made me feel like I could be a valuable and contributing member of a communications team.
Since graduation I have held positions at United Way Oakville and the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture. These diverse experiences have proved to me that there are endless career possibilities that a communications background can prepare you for. I have also developed skills and gained insights from these positions that have influenced my career path tremendously.
I think in communications in general – and especially for the non-profit sector – being adaptable is one of the greatest skills required to succeed. When you work in communications, you have to keep up with the pace of technology and the unique culture it creates. Your strategies need to be constantly evolving, and you need to be an active participant in the spaces your audiences hang out.
Working for non-profits often means working with less resources than an average department in a corporate setting. Hitting objectives or meeting industry standards can be more challenging with less resources – so creativity and adaptability are absolutely critical.
Another essential skill in my role is having ‘a nose for a good story’ and the intuition for knowing how to tell it with the most impact.
Fake it ’til you make it. Ok, not really. But I have seen too many colleagues and friends sell themselves short on their resumes and interviews, or feel like they can’t get started on career-level work until they manage to get that first or second job.
There are many other ways to get your foot in the door. Pick up small projects to gain experience, volunteer your time, stay up-to-date on the latest trends, engage with organizations online and at events, build a relevant network, and ask people who have the job you want out for a coffee and pick their brains. Show that you belong in this sector. Once you’ve done the work, have the confidence and use those marketing skills to present yourself as a prime candidate for the job.
The best part about my job is that I know that I am contributing my strengths (and what I love to do most!) to advance a cause that I believe in – and that I work alongside passionate and inspiring people who are doing the same. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better job for me!