This is the career story of a professional philanthropist as told to JustJobs.com Academy. This site features real stories from professionals in a myriad of professions. If you have considered a career in philanthropy, read on to learn what the job is really like from this Philanthropic Field Representative. Visit JustJobs for more interviews with philanthropy professionals including one from a fundraiser and a giving coordinator and many others.
My job title is officially “field representative.” I have been doing this job now for about 20 years and I’m looking forward to retiring soon. I work for a school that teaches blind people to use guide dogs. My job is to deliver the puppies that will one day become guide dogs to foster families who raise them for about a year. During the year, I keep in touch with the families and make sure that things are going well. I arrange training and social events for the foster families. Then, I go back to pick up the dogs at the end of the year and deliver them to the school for intensive training. I also attend fundraisers and speak to different groups throughout the year in order to obtain money to keep the program going.
I love what I do! Knowing that I am helping blind people to become more independent is very rewarding. Of course, I’ve worked with a lot of families and children, too, over the years. Now, many of the children that raised puppies when I first started are in their 30′s! It is very rewarding to see how they have grown and changed. I guess you could say that this is why I get up and go to work each day. I really believe that the work I do is important and life changing!
I got started in this field by chance. My husband and I were raising foster kids and we heard about another foster mother who had enrolled her children in a puppy-raising program. She felt that it really helped the kids emotionally. We decided to do just that and enrolled our foster kids in the same program. We saw such great growth in them, and really enjoyed the whole experience. Several years after we had joined, a job opened up for a field representative. Since my husband had just lost his job and we needed the money, I applied. I got the job and here I am!
The strangest thing that happened to me at this job was that I literally bumped into a blind graduate with a guide dog that I had delivered to a foster family living near my own home. I think the dog recognized me because he led his owner right to me! The owner had no idea what was going on because the dog wasn’t obeying his commands!
For my job, I really didn’t need a specific type of education. Perhaps, that has changed now. However, I would say that in my particular organization, the staff was looking for someone that they knew was already committed to the cause, so to speak. I believe I probably got the job because I was already involved with the organization as a volunteer.
If I knew that a friend of mine wanted to work for philanthropic organization, I’d tell them to get involved in that particular group first as a volunteer. That is important for several reasons: firstly, sometimes philanthropies don’t pay so well and you really need to love doing what you are doing to make it worthwhile. Also, if you do not support the cause, you probably won’t last long doing this sort of work.