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I aam looking forward to starting my graduate assistantship with Doc Martens in August.  I had been planning on picking up an extra 10 hours of data entry work per week at a minimum pay rate with my current employer, just for some extra cash, but my boss made an interesting proposition yesterday.  Instead of hiring me as an hourly employee at a minimum rate, they are thinking of contracting with me as a consultant!  That way, they can commission me to review grants, do data entry, reorganize their filing system, whatever.  I can choose which jobs I want to do, and they can pay me more for the more difficult jobs, like reviewing grants. 

I didn’t get into nonprofit work for the money, but hey, this sounds like a pretty groovy arrangement.  “Consultant” might look fairly impressive on my resume…

I’ve got to figure out how this will affect my income taxes, though.

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My boss has a bit of a knowledge management problem.  A knowledge management problem in the form of four large U.S. Mail tote boxes full of mostly unlabeled stacks of papers and files.  It’s really not his fault–the man is grieviously overworked.  On a quiet day he works until about 7:00 pm; on busy days he works till 10:00 pm.  I’ve seen him pull all-nighters where he finally goes home at 6:00 am to shower and shave, and then come back to work.  He desperately needs a secretary, but the problem with nonprofits is there is always more work to be done than people to do it, and funders prefer to support organizations with low overhead expenses.  Something like 85 cents of every dollar donated to my agency goes straight to client services, which is phenomenal–over and above most nonprofits.  But some staff really struggle to meet the demands of the job with so little help.  And it really seems unfair when the long hours take them away from their kids, as in the case of my boss.

Anyway, I’ve offered to put in some extra hours between semesters to try to help him get his files in order.  God forbid anything should happen to him, because the agency would be up a creek without a paddle if they needed to locate a document in his office!  One bonus is the agency is finally crawling into the 21st century by adopting some technological advancements (that were adopted everywhere else at least eight years ago).  We finally got the scanner function enabled on our copy machine, so we can scan multi-page documents and save them on the server in under two minutes, rather than taking 30 minutes or more to scan one page at a time on a desktop scanner.  Huzzah!  It’s completely ridiculous how exciting this is to me!  But scanning at a snail’s pace has taught me appreciation.  I’m betting my boss’s file situation would benefit from scanning and saving some of the most important documents on the server.  Because, thanks to recent IT developments at my agency, I can now open a 50-page document on the server and send it to print on the copy machine (which is at least four times as fast as my desktop printer), rather than having to wait for it to print on my desktop, then go make copies!  Will wonders never cease…

When you’re scrambling to meet a deadline, the minutes count!

And now for something completely different, I thought this was a lot of fun!  If you think of a good Tom Swifty, leave a comment!  I thought of:

“Which surgeon did your rhinoplasty?” Tom asked nosily.

My favorite one from Wikipedia is:

“They had to amputate them both at the ankles,” Tom said defeatedly.

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Whew, it’s been a busy couple of weeks.  My boss is kindly working with me to develop a plan to decrease my hours to 30 per week, so I can devote more time to school.  Currently, the plan is that I will take over the donor database management work of an employee who is leaving, teach grant writing to another employee who will move into my office with me, and eventually, once she is comfortable with the grant writing and contract processing duties, I’ll be more of a subsidiary grant writer, at least until I get a job in the library field.  This should allow me more flexible hours, but I suspect it’s going to take me about a year to train the new grant writer.  I don’t know when my shorter hours will kick in, but hopefully by the end of May.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to learn the database management job and assist with some special events work on top of all my usual grant writing and contract processing.  The database work isn’t hard, but doing the work of two people is tiring.  The good news is I’m taking a week of vacation from work to write final papers and catch up on reading assignments.  The not-so-good news is that when I get back to work on April 28th, I will have only two weeks to write our annual Emergency Shelter Grant and Community Development Block Grant applications if I’m going to be able to submit them to divisional and territorial headquarters for approval before submission to the City of Tulsa.  …which is kind of required. 

Plus the training for the new online application process for submission of U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development Supportive Housing grants should be starting soon.  HUD promised training sessions in April, but we’re rapidly running out of April.  I just hope the government isn’t still writing code for the submission portal.  When Tulsa has 1.5 million housing dollars on the line, you want the submission process to be smooth.  You want the submission portal to not crash on you at the last minute.  Well, one day at a time.

As the grant writer for a local nonprofit which provides homeless services, I participate in Continuum of Care (CoC) meetings, in which the majority of area homeless service providers meet monthly and collaborate to improve homeless services.  Plus, seven or eight of us submit the HUD Supportive Housing grant to the City of Tulsa each year, which is then organized and submitted by The City of Tulsa to HUD. 

We’ve been struggling with a bit of a knowledge management problem recently, as the City of Tulsa employee who has traditionally prepared Tulsa’s submission to HUD resigned last fall.  Typically, HUD submissions are made in April or May, but luckily, the new online submission process has delayed the submission schedule this year, because the City of Tulsa has only found us a replacement CoC liason in the last couple weeks.  I don’t envy the new CoC liason as she struggles to pick up the responsibilities of her predecessor.  She has a lot to learn in a short amount of time, definitions of chronic homelessness, the hold harmless clause, the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), and the manadatory exclusion of domestic violence victims’ data from HMIS… 

I can’t believe the City of Tulsa left us hanging for so long.  If HUD had been on schedule–which, granted, it never is–Tulsa could have lost a lot of money, and a lot people would have been out on the streets instead of working towards self-sufficiency in supportive housing programs.

I guess that’s enough ranting for now.

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Some new developments at my job may result in a reduction of hours and stress in the near future, which will in turn result in an increase in available time and brain-power for school work.  Yay!  This will mean less moolah, but I’m willing to take the pay cut to preserve my sanity.  I just hope it happens before summer semester starts…

And now, Originality vs. Pop Culture Plasticity.

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