My name is Simon and I joined the SVG team roughly one year ago. After I graduated from university with a degree in online marketing and computer science, I was unsure what I wanted to do next. While I was in school, I was so focused on my classes and assignments that I never thought aboutwhat I would do afterwards. I always dreamed of supporting communities in less developed areas of Western China but never knew what that could look like.
When I first was introduced to SVG, I knew very little about the social sector. A friend was working there at the time and told me it might be a good fit especially with my desire to eventually move to the Northwest. After learning more about the social sector and how this position could help me achieve my goal, I decided to join the team. For the past year, I have been the NPO Relations Officer at SVG. There is a steep learning curve with learning and working in this industry. After one year, I now realize how working directly with these NPOs has changed my perspective on many things.
While in school, I always thought there was one approach to solving a problem or achieving an end result. Working with NPOs that have limited resources, I have learned to think outside of the box. These organizations are so persistent and dedicated. They have inspired me to keep thinking of solutions until the goal is met. Interpersonal skills have never been my forte and speaking with staff members of organizations around China has forced me out of my comfort zone. I have also learned that IT support is lacking in many of these organizations and my background in technology can be very useful.
The SVG work environment has also had a large influence on my change in perspective. In my previous internships, I felt very isolated in the work environment. I focused on my own assignments and rarely spoke to other coworkers. At SVG, the team is always brainstorming and asking for ideas or support on different projects. Everyone’s perspective is crucial in how we execute our work. There is a lot of trust between colleagues as well. We are all working towards the same goal and that bonds us.
I have also learned how to approach a project holistically. For example, we don’t just think about how to start an incubator program by merely finding instructors or mentors who fit the profile on paper. We start by looking at the target population of the organization who is participating in the program. How do they attack the issues? In turn, we then think about who or what other organization has the experience needed to be a positive mentor organization. Lastly, one of the most useful skills I have learned over the past year is how to effectively evaluate a program. This is a skill I intend to use regardless of the future jobs or occupations I have. It is a great life skill!
I look forward to seeing what the next year of working in the social sector brings. When I first started, I thought I would be the one giving back to my community but now I realize, I am the one learning and benefiting (I hope) just as much as our many beneficiaries.