Eddie Chen ’16, Jenkins Consulting Group

Eddie-Chen This week I had the opportunity to fly in to Tulsa and shadow Miss Linda Jenkins, owner of Jenkins Consulting Group, and learned a great deal about her work in nonprofit consulting.

Before I started the actual Princeternship work, I was sent a list of the proposed activates that Linda had put together for me. Getting more prepared for all the meetings and webinars, I researched the missions, histories and corporation statements and other relevant information on related companies, including BoardSource, YWCA Tulsa, Teach for America Oklahoma and Sustainable Tulsa. Since Jenkins Consulting Group mainly focuses on providing expertise and advice to nonprofit organizations, the broader social context in Tulsa and Oklahoma was also relevant, and worth studying as pre-work preparation.

On Monday, we met with Monika Friedman from Teach For America Oklahoma. What struck me most during the talk was Monika’s passion about what she does – she clearly knows why she’s there doing TFA after college, and is working as hard as she can to better the education system and make a tangible impact on less privileged kids. I think it’s those top talents like Monika who go in and dedicate themselves fully and make themselves accessible to everyone that make TFA such a remarkable program.

After meeting with Monika, we headed to Linda’s home office to begin her typical day at work. Linda works from home, which is something quite new to me – and I was eager to find out just what the difference was, and what it took to satisfactorily work from home. It certainly takes a great deal of self-discipline and active planning in terms of daily calendar and strategic planning: what I need to get done today, this week, this month, this quarter, etc, and where do I see myself in 1 year, 5 years or 10 years.

One cool tip from Linda regarding Eddie3her professional life is to always send confirmation 24 hours in advance as a reminder if there’s a scheduled meeting/presentation/dinner with someone. Another related tip is that in sending out reminders, it’s important to make sure the other party knows how to contact you (through phone calls or text messages or emails), as different people have different work habits, and some might only check their email once a day.

After work, Linda had arranged dinner with the alumni in the area, and I got to meet Princetonians from the Class of 1960 and the Class of 1967 (woohoo). It was extremely enlightening to me as they shared their career paths and choices. One big takeaway for me is that it is very rare for one to know his ultimate career choice early – it keeps changing. So what I should do is keep exploring and working as hard as I can  and keep my options open.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Corey Williams, President of Sustainable Tulsa. I took the opportunity to have an in-depth discussion on her career choice, her job, Sustainable Tulsa and sustainability issues at large. Corey was an extremely remarkable leader, as she single-handedly transformed Sustainable Tulsa from an interest group started by several women to an influential regional organization that has pushed many tangible changes and was constantly featured prominently in the media.

On Wednesday, we listened to webinars at Linda’s office from 4Good.org, on designing and delivering nonprofit tips that work, presented by Beth Kanter. The webinar includes great content, great tips on leadership development, and emphasis on making it more interactive from somatic, kinesthetic, visual, audio, and intellectual perspectives.

We could use different strategies, such as using polls, stretch breaks, Q&A, and share pair activities to retain people’s attention.

Eddie4Later in the afternoon we went to meet with YWCA Tulsa. I learned that it is crucial that one shows up well prepared so as to build and maintain this professional image. In addition, it helps if all the data, presentations and graphs are in consistent format and layout, and the consultant is very familiar with the materials and has thought about how to present them, how the findings could relate to the broader context and the challenges faced by the client organization.

Before this Princeternship I had always thought I was interested in consulting and would be very likely to pursue an MBA as an advanced degree. Now I’m actually thinking about going to law school, and am looking at the nonprofit sector with increasing interest. I don’t know where I will go (I feel even more unsure after the Princeternship but much less anxious), but I’m keeping my options open.

I would like to express my greatest gratitude to Linda, for being so kind and helpful in hosting me; to all the Princeton alumni, for being so supportive and friendly, and showing me the true Princeton spirit; and to the Career Service Office, for giving me this opportunity which is indeed, life-changing.