The mid-career itch to join the social sector

By Shannon Maynard25 February 2014

Shannon Maynard, left, visits with Grameen Foundation Community Knowledge Worker Rosemary in Uganda. With the help of the mobile phone, Rosemary provides her neighboring farmers with information to help increase their productivity and income. Photo: Grameen Foundation

You’ve spent the first decade of your professional experience working in the private sector or in a profession such as medicine, education or legal services. You care about social issues and maybe actively donate to or volunteer for a nonprofit.

So how do you navigate a career change into the social sector. And, more specifically, how do you transfer your skills to international development?

I joined Grameen Foundation five years ago after spending the first 15 years of my career working in the U.S. nonprofit and public sector on domestic initiatives focused on volunteer service and civic participation. When contemplating a career move in 2008, I knew I wanted to move into the social enterprise space, but I wondered how I could convince an organization that my domestic experience could apply to international contexts. I originally pursued a corporate relations vacancy at Grameen Foundation that ultimately led to conversations about a new initiative it was launching. My skills and experiences were perfectly aligned with what they needed, and they hired me as the director of Bankers without Borders.

One of the things that contributes to Grameen Foundation’s strong talent pool and diverse perspectives is the deep and varied expertise of so many of our employees and volunteers. Some joined us after working in technical fields such as software development or banking, while others were previously high school teachers and photographers. Experience is often the best teacher, so we’ve asked four Grameen Foundation employees and volunteers to share their stories and words of wisdom with others.

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About the author

Shannon maynard
Shannon Maynard

With more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit management and volunteer mobilization, Shannon Maynard joined Grameen Foundation in February 2009 as the director of Bankers without Borders. She previously served as the executive director of the U.S. President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation and managed strategic initiatives for the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency. Her work has been featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Nonprofit Quarterly, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Shannon is a former AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer.


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