This is not my first time directly working with a nonprofit so I’m used to dealing with the lack of funding, chaotic nature of the work, and the need for adaptability. This is, however, my first time working for a nonprofit based in the United States and that comes with its own host of unique problems and challenges.
This summer, while working for Med Health, I’ve learned a fair amount about the intricacies of communication in corporate America and more specifically healthcare. Personally, the most surprising feature was the for-profit nature of health systems and how difficult it can be to work with and/or for them. One of the toughest parts of working for a nonprofit is simply getting your voice heard and your ideas recognized. Another surprising thing I learned about the nonprofit sphere is the importance of local norms and practices. Having sat in on meetings both in California and Michigan I got to witness the differences in the nonprofit ecosystem. California had a much better collaboration system than Michigan. In Michigan, the culture feels competitive and business-focused rather than California’s collaborative and product-focused style of work. Of course, this is based on my limited exposure to med-tech in California but this sentiment is something Stacey echoed as a problem for the Michigan entrepreneurship scene.
Overall, working in the nonprofit industry this summer was an enlightening experience. Without big corporate teams that specialize in dealing with specific problems it truly takes multi-talented individuals to handle all the unique challenges that nonprofits face. With Stacey’s guidance, I learned a little bit about what it takes to make a sustainable impact and get buy-in from those around you even when money is not the motivator.