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Three Possible Career Paths Through Grant Writing Training

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by Alexis Swenson
October 30, 2021
 Three Possible Career Paths Through Grant Writing Training
We have students join our Collective for many different reasons. Recently, three of our students have stepped into perfectly customized-for-them career paths. Specifically, we’re celebrating Celia who landed a salaried job, Barbara who is a nonprofit changemaker extraordinaire, and Joanna who is a consultant and is capitalizing on her fundraising expertise.

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Three Possible Career Paths Through Grant Writing Training

Why Students Choose to Join the Collective

We have students join our Collective for many different reasons. Each reason is as different as each person—how beautiful is it that we are all so unique! Recently, three of our students have stepped into perfectly customized-for-them career paths. Coupled with their persistence, the skills they learned from our course helped make their goals and dreams become a reality.

This blog post highlights their unique student experiences and shows you three different career paths you can take when armed with the tried and true Grant Writing Unicorn Method.

Specifically, we’re celebrating Celia who landed a salaried job, Barbara who is a nonprofit changemaker extraordinaire, and Joanna who is a consultant and is capitalizing on her fundraising expertise.

Again, these are only three different career paths that high quality grant writing training can offer. Specifically, we are convinced that first becoming a freelance grant writer will give you all the tools you need to make your dreams a reality. Here’s a quick video overview showing you exactly what we mean.

As you read through this post, think about what you want in a career. Let these three incredible women inspire your path!

Celia: Eight Months From Zero to Grant Writing Unicorn

In the course of eight months Celia Mendez went from having never written a grant to several small paid freelancing gigs, that ultimately led to a full-time salaried position!

Celia left the corporate world some time ago to raise her family and was looking to re-enter the workforce, but she wanted to explore a career change. She had precise parameters when selecting a new career. These included great pay, flexible hours, flexible location, and she wanted to contribute to something meaningful for her personally. Lastly, Celia looked for something that wouldn't take years to learn before making an income. Grant writing checked all of those boxes!

Celia has a background in graphic design and has found that skill particularly helpful when building out prospectus' for clients (part of our funding strategy process!). Having Meredith and Alex as mentors have increased her confidence as she was starting out as a grant writer. Now, eight months later, Celia feels she really can say, "I am a grant writer!"

A huge part of learning grant writing and finding success for Celia was found in the community aspect of the Collective. “The key takeaway from the Collective that I have learned is that you can learn stuff by yourself, but you learn exponentially quicker and it's a whole lot more fun when you do it with a group of people who share your interests and are like-minded,” said Celia.

And, if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that staying connected with others matters significantly. “I meet a lot of really nice people too, and it keeps you involved in your community. And I think as you get older, that's really important. You don't want to get too isolated. You want to stay involved and engaged in life. And this is really a great way to do it. So, I think it's a career that you could do at any age,” said Celia.

We were so excited to hear when Celia landed a full-time salaried position with a grant writing consulting firm! Her growth has been incredible, and we can't wait to see where her grant writing journey continues to take her.

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Barbara: Nonprofit Changemaker Extraordinaire

Barbara is a community activist in rural North Carolina who operates a community outreach and wellness center nonprofit. She also has a passion for helping others create and organize their nonprofits. Lastly, Barbara assists nonprofits in finding funding and grant writing as a freelance grant writer. Of those three roles, her primary focus is developing her nonprofit.

Barbara was first interested in learning more about grant writing to better seek funding for her nonprofit. She wanted to learn grant writing to continue developing her business and nonprofit management skills. Barbara’s work and passion includes assisting people who are leaving incarceration. She works to give them a voice, help with reentry efforts, and coordinate relevant resources. Working for a nonprofit, it can be difficult to want to help and not have adequate resources to do so.

Through her education from the course and working knowledge of her region, Barbara is most proud to have entered into conversations with a local community college interested in providing possible funding and seed funding to support her nonprofit. We know that securing even a small amount of funding can be game-changing for a nonprofit, not to mention that it boosts a grant writer’s confidence. We are here to celebrate that!

Barbara has thrived in the Collective because of the hands-on support and community with people from different backgrounds starting at different places in their grant writing journey. “It goes a long way for myself and others in the field to have others who kind of understand what you're going through and understand the highs and lows,” said Barbara.

Barbara’s biggest piece of advice for those interested in joining or having just joined the Collective is to be active. “Make sure you get in the community group and be active. Just joining and just being there is not enough in order to get something out of it. You get out what you put in. You have the resources, you have the community; so you have to utilize it,” said Barbara.

We’re so excited for you, Barabara! We can’t wait to keep cheering you on.

Joanna: Adding Grant Writing to her Consulting Portfolio

Joanna has extensive experience as a fundraiser for internationally and nationally based nonprofits. She’s always liked to write and with her self-described “analytical mind”, she was naturally drawn to learning more about grant writing. Grant writing was a perfect additional service to offer her clients.

“I wanted to learn a new skill and apply my understanding of various contexts of social needs to help organizations secure funding. So, really to develop a new skill set within fundraising and to continue to expand the ways that I can support organizations,” said Joanna.

Another major appeal to grant writing consultant work included the flexible work environment. For someone who thrives in an independent, autonomous setting, this was perfect for Joanna. She’d been working full-time for her entire career when the COVID-19 pandemic caused a shift in her outlook on life. “I was able to really consider what it is that I wanted from my career and fulfill sort of a higher purpose that I have of how I can use my consulting business as a jumping off point to support other smaller projects,” said Joanna.

Through her newfound knowledge of grant writing, Joanna was able to support a friend of hers working with individuals with disabilities in Guatemala. She helped her friend’s organization secure a small micro-grant from the United States. Joanna served as the organization’s representative in the United States to vouch for their project.

Joanna has also helped to secure $60,000 for another Guatemalan organization. With this funding, the Guatemalan organization can continue to provide education to Maya indigenous girls. With her unique position and skill set, Joanna bridges the gap between an important need in Guatemala and available dollars in the United States.

Joanna’s biggest challenge in learning grant writing was pushing through imposter syndrome. The Collective helped Joanna navigate many logistical pieces of grant writing such as setting up a website and investing in important initial costs. The most valuable step Joanna learned about confronting and overcoming imposter syndrome is that, “to get over imposter syndrome, you just have to go for it. You just have to start and, and in time, you'll see like, ‘Oh, I really can actually do this,” said Joanna.

Imposter syndrome is something we talk about often at Learn Grant Writing. Here’s a video of our top seven tips to overcome it. We all encounter it at some point (yes, even the writers and editors behind this very blog post!). Our hope is that by being honest about our challenges with imposter syndrome with members, we can work together to push through it. That is, after all, the Unicorn Way: the opportunity before us seems scary, yet we still say yes. And, you know what? We are all better for it.

Career Options for Grant Writers

Celia, Barbara, and Joanna are real people and offer just three examples of the world of opportunities that opens up when you bet on yourself. For each individual, they used grant writing to build upon the natural skill sets they already had acquired to continue helping others. They’ve created lives they proudly take ownership of and have surrounded themselves with a stellar community of cheerleaders who’ll offer honest feedback.

The only question remaining now is what do you wish to achieve? How can grant writing fit into your life? How could it change your life to bring you closer to your goals?

With honed in grant writing skills, your career options are endless. Among other paths, you can land a salaried position, work as a grant writing consultant combining other technical skills such as fundraising, graphic design, and relationship building, or help nonprofits develop their strategic fundraising plan.

No matter what your end goals are, we’re here to support you.

Grant Writing Resources

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About the author...

Alexis Swenson serves as Unicorn Coach and Content Director for Learn Grant Writing. The product of small-town northwestern Minnesota, she is a self-declared “old soul” and grounded free spirit. She has secured over $2.7 million in grant funding in her career. Alexis writes to help people learn, laugh, and not be so hard on themselves.

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Want To Learn More?

We made this video to answer your questions about how to build a career in grant writing without the fear of where you will find clients or the fear of failure. We cover the top three mistakes that keep people from making the leap from a soul-sucking job to something more meaningful.

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