We all know the current job market is abysmal and that finding the right candidate for your org’s job opening in paramount, but nonprofits….if your mission is to advance the state of the arts in your community/society, you must spread that sentiment to the people you employ. If THEY want to advance themselves in the artistic society of their choosing, you mustn’t always penalize them for the ambition they are ingrained with.

When you welcome the eager, unemployed into your offices and encourage them to speak of their passions and talents, and you LOVE their vigor and the side projects they have toiled / triumphed with while being unemployed, but then ultimately tell those wide-eyed, QUALIFIED, hopeful artists that their talents would be better suited somewhere else…what lesson are you teaching them?

That the only dream job an applicant can boast about is the entry level job they are applying to?

That a mid-twenties (ok, late twenties) graduate student can’t have higher goals than the organization?

That all their talent and education is essentially rendering them jobless, based on your standards?

Don’t you guys WANT extremely motivated people to work with?

Come out of the clouds, Non-Profs. You are in the business of making local events/local people/local ideas have more meaning to more people, far beyond the boundaries of your walls. You are in the business of giving diversified culture and hope to your patrons, why not allow your employees to embody the same ideals? If you’re worried about the cost of quick turnover….you’re a non-profit…have you not been dealing with that since your inception? And perhaps is that sometimes because you hire people with no far-reaching goals, they just need the income. You are aware you set up shop in America, right? Where the common theme is the American “work your way to the top” dream (granted, some have less steps to tread than others).

I understand you have to find the right candidate to fill your positions. For most of you, every dollar of your budget is accounted for before the money even rolls in and that hiring the right person is easier said than done in hindsight, but can you PLEASE start asking relevant questions to get the answers you’re actually digging for? And stop assuming that just because someone’s passions don’t align EXACTLY with the needs of your open position (do they ever??) that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t do an amazing job.

There are people out there who, yes, maybe want to be the President of the United States one day, but they’re only 27, they need to get a whole lot of shit under their belt before entering that kind of campaign, but they will give 120%, everyday, because their work ethic dictates that they will go to bat for you, and be a beast in that office, no matter what the task. It’s all about climbing that ladder, reaching for something bigger. Something I thought all non-profits understood.


In closing:

Non-profits: be realistic. No one ever wants to stay in an entry level job, thats why it’s ENTRY LEVEL. Stop asking what an applicant’s dream job is, and if you do, it’s called a DREAM JOB for a reason, because it’ll most likely never happen (because that’s what America has succumbed to…a nation of “how much does it pay?” as opposed to “OMG, this job is ME, through and through.”


Applicants: Apparently, you have to leave your lofty, naive ambitions at home.

Question: What’s your dream job?

Answer: Working at   (insert the building you are sitting in), doing   (insert position you applied for), and working for   (person sitting across from you).






“I used to worry a lot about not being a big success…I’ve made peace with myself somewhere between my ambitions and my limitations. It’s a step backwards in the right direction.”

–Glenn Ford, The Teahouse of the August Moon, 1956