Nonprofit alumni roundtable gives ASU students advice for career success

Professionals from non-profits around the area come speak to students in the Certified Nonprofit Professional Credential about professional development and job hunting. (Sydnee Schwartz/DD)
Professionals from nonprofits around the area come speak to students in the Certified Nonprofit Professional Credential about professional development and job hunting. (Sydnee Schwartz/DD)

Alumni from the Certified Nonprofit Professional program at ASU spoke to downtown students at the Alumni Roundtable 2015 Monday afternoon.

“It’s about professional development this year,” said Jaimi Romano, a current student working towards her CNP credential. The event is an opportunity for ASU students who are earning their CNP credential to learn about nonprofit job opportunities, Romano said.

“We are actually going to interview the alumni and ask them questions about professional development, the interviewing process and getting the job,” she said. “So, it’s really fun.”

Sawyer Kilen, an alum from the class of 2014 and the volunteer coordinator at Make-A-Wish Arizona, advised students to tailor their resumes to fit the organization that they are applying for. He also said to consider the perspective of the person reading your resume.

He explained that it’s important for applicants to research the organization and position while constructing their resume. According to Kilen, an applicant’s resume should only emphasize the skills and experience that the position requires — even if that means having a slightly shorter resume.

“When you are listing your specific job experiences, I wouldn’t go too in-depth,” he said. “Just give the experiences and skills (for) the position you are applying for.”

Kilen explained that although he still had to go through the interview process, his networking efforts have assisted him in landing a job.

Mallory Holguin, who graduated from ASU in 2008, is an events manager at the ASU Foundation for a New American University. She is impressed when an applicant has done a noticeable amount of research before applying for a job, she said.

“It’s a lot about networking and who you know,” added Kilen. “Get your name out there so people know who you are.”

Kilen said that it’s important for an interviewee to acknowledge they have some weaknesses, but it’s more important to explain how they’ve overcome those weaknesses and how the company can benefit from that.

Kerstan Ryan is the assistant director of donor relations for the ASU Foundation and graduated in 2010. She explained that when she is asked about her biggest weakness in an interview, “I usually tell them that I can get a little too involved in my projects. Also tell them if I’m not kept busy, I get pretty bored.”

Kilen said working for a nonprofit organization can be very time-consuming because he is passionate about the organization’s mission. However, he has found it important to find balance and become involved in other activities to avoid feeling overworked.

“When you’re there to work, you get your work done,” said Kilen. “But when you go home, that’s when you have time to de-stress and that’s when you have time to do other activities.”

Julie Mate, who graduated from ASU in 2009, is the development officer for ASU Gammage on the “Arts and Design at ASU” development team. She explained that setting aside time personal time helps her remain focused and diligent while she is at work.

“When I’m at work, I am working. There’s going to be times that you’re really slammed and there are times that will be leaner,” said Mate. “Appreciate those times and don’t feel guilty about going home at five if you truly can.”

Contact the reporter at