Employer Spotlight: ASPIRA Schools of Pennsylvania

ASPIRA PictureName: Lindsey Votto

Position: Development Professional 

What does a typical day look like for you?

There really isn’t a typical day! When working with children, families, and schools, each day is exciting and different. This is one of the aspects of my job that I love the most. In any given day, I might have coffee with a funder, write a grant proposal, support school events, support community partner events, meet with the School District, prepare sponsorship letters, attend a networking session, or any combination of these! There are certainly days where my sole focus is writing grant, sponsorship and fundraising proposals, and those days are quiet and focused and a nice balance to the go-go-go nature of most of my work! I really feed off the energy of the kids – they are the reason I do everything I do.

How did you get into this position and field?

When I graduated from SJU, I immediately began working in corporate America. Although the experience was rewarding and taught me a great deal about responsibility, time

management, teamwork, accountability and professionalism, I wasn’t passionate about the work I was doing. Through my extracurricular involvement with The Junior League of Philadelphia volunteering my time with our community partners (whose focuses are education, poverty, hunger and homelessness) and thinking back on how much I enjoyed working in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as a Hawk Host during my time on Hawk Hill, I realized my calling is in elementary and secondary education of at-risk youth. A mentor in the League assisted me through the career transition process, helping me craft my resume to highlight my applicable skills and coaching me through the job selection and interview process. Fun fact: I applied initially for a different position with ASPIRA but when I interviewed, I was asked if I would accept my current role instead! Hands down, it has been the best professional decision I have made!

What do you like most about your position and what do you find to be most challenging?

I love the variety and nature of work. Developing relationships, funds and grants for schools is so different than at a corporation or large non-profit. The money creates tangible opportunities, all of which benefit the students directly. Whether this is in the form of new trumpets for the band, a playground, internship opportunities, computers, iPads or a full college scholarship, it is all equally rewarding. I feel every day as though I have a positive impact on a group of students who deserve my support the most. It’s also an incredibly humbling experience.

For students interested in your field, what advice do you have regarding what they should be doing now to prepare?

As it relates to the field, I would advise that students to seek out opportunities to volunteer with children in disadvantaged situations, such as tutoring through Campus Ministry or Big Brothers Big Sisters, or consider a dual degree program that includes education. Inner city education is an awakening. Perhaps even attending a meeting of the School Reform Commission (they’re free and open to the public!) would be beneficial to understand the ever changing and dire landscape of education in Philadelphia. As it relates to my job specifically, I would advise students to improve their written and oral communication skills. Master your elevator pitch, practice meeting new people and introducing yourself to them and learn the art of asking for support. As it relates to leaving Hawk Hill for the “Real World,” be yourself, be true to yourself and don’t be afraid to make mistakes as long as you learn something from them!