YNPN Boston on the Move: Sydney Nolan


Our "On the Move" series highlights members of our YNPN Boston Leadership Team who have recently transitioned into new jobs. Sydney Nolan, a YNPN Boston Ambassador, shares her reflections on her recent job search.

Current Job: Account Coordinator, Argus

Last job: Communications Assistant

How did you find your job and prepare your application and interview?

My roommate actually sent me the listing after she saw it on her alma mater's job board. Unlike me, she went to school in Massachusetts, so it was great to have sneaky "backdoor" access to a resource like that.

In terms of interview prep, this was the first time I was looking to make the switch from a nonprofit to a for-profit company, so it was a matter of wrapping my head around that idea first, then figuring out how to translate some of my typical nonprofit-type goals to a for-profit scenario.  I know communications is all about determining what messages are going to resonate most with the audience. In the various nonprofits I worked for, our audience was always donors, with a goal of figuring out how to convince them we were a great cause to support. In my new role, I needed to figure out how this process of identifying and testing donor messages could apply to a slightly different audience or process, such as identifying what messages would resonate with potential new clients and earn us new business or generate new projects.

Since I was interviewing with a marketing agency, I made sure I had a good feel for the sorts of clients they work with, as well as the kinds of projects and services they provide for them. I also spent some time reveling in the possibility of an actual social media budget, of course.

Did you negotiate your offer? If so, how did you prepare for this?

I didn't negotiate, and regret it looking back. I actually had a meeting scheduled with a professional salary/negotiating coach who I'd met at a YNPN Boston panel before I'd even gone through the interview, and got a big reality check and some tough love at our meeting. Lesson learned!

What were you looking for? How did you know this was the right next job?

It was a very difficult decision, but lots of little things started to add up, including a strange and fortuitous moment the night before my second interview. I'd wrapped up my "research" for the night and decided I was going to watch a little TV before bed. During the first commercial break, I actually saw an ad by the agency I was interviewing with. I thought it was serendipitous, and sure enough, it all worked out!

Tell us a little bit about the transition.

I gave a standard two weeks notice, which helped in being able to make sure a couple of key responsibilities were transferred to other staff members. Communications is an interesting field to transition responsibilities from, since everyone has their own way of doing things to some extent. It's a field with a lot of fluidity, which is what I've always loved about it, but that can make it hard to explain to someone exactly what it is you do and how or why you do it a certain way.

What advice do you have for other young nonprofit professionals looking to make a big move?

Beware of a spotty resume, especially if you don't have a good (or interview-friendly) response to explain lots of short job stints. The first question one of the agency owners asked me was why I wanted to leave my current job after only being there a little over a year. I know there are lots of blogs and think pieces floating around social media about how this isn’t as big of a deal as it used to be, but it still is a red flag or sticking point for a lot of managers and potential future bosses!


In addition to her current role as an account coordinator for a Boston-based marketing agency, Sydney has held a variety of communications roles at nonprofits in Boston and in her native city of Minneapolis, MN. She's also currently serving as a YNPN Boston Ambassador on the Communications and Marketing team and volunteers her time assisting with social media for Camp Casco, a nonprofit that organizes an annual free summer camp for children affected by pediatric cancer.


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