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Allison Sribarra '02

Major: Environmental studies
Company: Sciencenter
Title: Grant Administrator
Field of Work: Non-Profit

What do you do?

I'm the grant administrator for a non-profit children's science museum in Ithaca, NY. We raise 15-20% of our operating budget through grants and my job is to not only manage our existing grants, but to continually seek new sources of grant funding, write the proposals, and build relationships with funders.

How did you become interested in your field?

I've always been interested in non-profit work as a way to create social change through my work. After volunteering for a few non-profits throughout college, I knew I wanted to work in the field. People in the non-profit world are so passionate about their work and making a difference. It's inspiring and has continued to inspire me throughout my career.

What, if any, additional education (degree, discipline, institution) have you earned?

Master of Public Policy, University of Maryland.

What skills are vital for success in your field?

Organization—putting together a grant proposal, especially large federal grant proposals—always involves managing so many moving parts and people. Writing: I need to be able to write concisely and persuasively about why our programs need funding in proposals; communicate to funders that their money is being well spent in grant reports; and be able to articulate our mission and vision when reaching out to new funders, often via email.

What experiences, internships, study, or previous jobs helped you get to your current position?

I've worked, interned and volunteered at a number of nonprofits—from large, national organizations to small, local organizations with no paid staff. Each experience broadened my perceptions and skill base. And each position I worked in was related to grants in some way, either helping to manage grant budgets, researching new funding opportunities, and then getting a chance to write proposals. The understanding of the entire grants process that I gained over many years and many different organizations is what got me to my current position.

What advice do you have for current students interested in your field?

Volunteer. I know it's cliché but it works. Volunteer at a number of different organizations because each non-profit has its own culture. Find out what's important to you. Is it the mission of the organization? Or is it the type of work (e.g., grant writing or finance or organizational development) that's interesting to you? Try to find at least one opportunity to learn about non-profit budgeting, because even if you are managing a program at a non-profit, you will need to know about how to manage a budget.