|Gail Soffer, LA Fellows Cohort 4|
I am really looking forward to reuniting with my fellow LA Fellows in Cohort 4 at our graduation on July 28th. I will be very proud to introduce you to my guest, the founder and director of the non-profit I now call home, Dr. Judith Broder. It was a very bittersweet experience for me to take "early graduation" to accept the position of Development Director at The Soldiers Project. My first day at work was exactly one month after our classes began, and it was surprising to find how strong a bond I had formed with 31 people in those 30 days. Although I love what I'm doing and am so grateful to be here, two weeks later, I still genuinely miss being in class and spending time with everyone.
I think the nature of what LA Fellows offers engenders a unique camaraderie among the participants rather than the competition that could be expected. Even though we have very different backgrounds and skill sets, we are, after all, competing for a very limited number of employment opportunities. And, especially with so many opening up to a transition into non-profit work, it would be natural to see each other as rivals. But I was so touched by the support, care, encouragement, and sharing of resources that was in abundance instead. How refreshing! So much credit for that is due to the environment created by the instructors and staff and the message behind the practical aspects of our trainings.
Yes, we were taught some priceless skills that would give us an edge and shown some amazing resources that would give us special access to apparently locked back rooms. Those things would certainly get us across the finish line ahead of the others. But what was most significant to me was the focus on exploring who we really are and what we really want. Getting in touch with what makes you thrive and flourish provides clarity on the destination and an understanding of how best to use the newly available tools to get there. And, on top of that, discovering your uniqueness completely dissolves the stress of beating out the competition. You can move forward with full confidence that there is a perfect match out there just for you. You still have to make plenty of effort but you can also enjoy the treasure hunt rather than race around in panic and desperation or collapse in despair of someone else getting "your" job. I like life being an exciting hunt for treasures waiting just for me!
So what I found conveyed in LA Fellows has been far more than job-seeking tools but some wonderful, far-reaching life lessons. I'm so thrilled to have shared the learning and growing process and this brightened part of my journey with such sincere and enjoyable travelers. I want to express tremendous appreciation for my companions and for this fabulous program.