Cole Hardman '10 International Political Economy Major

Cole Hardman '10 International Political Economy Major

"Whenever I have a chance to share my passion for supporting the mission of United Way of King County, I know I am fulfilling the duty of my job. Working with companies who want to be strong supporters in making a positive and lasting impact for the most vulnerable in King County is very rewarding."

United Way Development Associate

Cole Hardman '10 International Political Economy Major

Life as a Development Associate
Career path

CES: Tell us a little bit about life in Nonprofit Development.

CH: Every day is a busy one. My job as a Development Associate at United Way of King County requires a lot of interaction with companies that run United Way workplace campaigns. 50% of my work occurs outside of the office, which is a nice balance.

I am required to make 75 “sales calls” a quarter, thus the most important aspect of my job is to foster and enhance the relationships I have with the companies I work with year-round to ensure a successful workplace campaign. I often times am working closely with our Pledge Processing department to make sure that payments are being made, and answer any questions my donors have from the companies I work with in my portfolio.

CES: What do you most enjoy about your work? Least enjoy?

CH: I most enjoy the client relationship aspect of my job. My portfolio consists of eight large companies in King County, and I play a key support role in maintaining a strong relationship, strategizing workplace campaigns, and providing year-round volunteer engagements for the employees of the companies I work with.

Whenever I have a chance to share my passion for supporting the mission of United Way of King County, I know I am fulfilling the duty of my job. Working with companies who want to be strong supporters in making a positive and lasting impact for the most vulnerable in King County is very rewarding.

I honestly cannot think of an aspect of my job I “least enjoy.” I love being challenged and finding innovative ways to engage the workplace community in supporting United Way!  

CES: How did you break into your career and what has been your career path?

CH: My journey to my current position at United Way of King County began in the summer of 2007. I had a past relationship with United Way, as I used to share my personal story as a recipient of their services as a child, so over the years I maintained key relationships. During the middle of my freshman year, I approached United Way by expressing my interest in obtaining a summer internship within their Fundraising Department. I was lucky to be a summer intern for them in 2007 & 2008. Beyond my internship, I continued to keep a close relationship with the management in the Fundraising Department, as I knew after college I wanted to go back to begin my career there.

I graduated in 2010, and applied to be a Development Associate at United Way of King County (my current position), however I was rejected in the 1st round.  At the time this rejection was difficult because I had a close relationship with the hiring manager (she was my employer when I was an intern), but I was lucky that they counter-offered me a temp position within the Fundraising Department.

Graduating in 2010, in the thick of the recession, I was thrilled to have a full-time job, even if it meant that it was temporary. I was confident that this opportunity would allow me to go above and beyond in my role, and I had aspirations to obtain the Development Associate position if it were to open up before my contract expired.

It was tough holding my temporary job as there was a lot of ambiguity in regards to how long they could afford to keep me around, but I kept getting extended every three months. Eight months into my temporary job, the Development Associate position opened up again. I immediately informed my employer (again the same hiring manager) that I was going to apply for the job, and as a result, four years after being an intern, I obtained my goal of becoming a Development Associate!

CES: How did your experiences during your time at the University of Puget Sound prepare you for your career?

CH: My experience at Puget Sound helped prepare me a great deal for my current career. While I always knew I wanted to get involved in Development in the nonprofit field, I felt that my extracurricular activities prepared me well for working within a workplace organization. Being a part of Puget Sound’s Honor Court, and serving in multiple leadership roles in my fraternity (Sigma Chi) and the Inter-Fraternity Council served me well for real-world experiences. Learning how to work on deadlines, delegating tasks, compromising, and overcoming differences of opinion, are just a few important tools I acquired throughout my time at Puget Sound. 

Being heavily involved in the Admission Department at Puget Sound boosted my interpersonal skills. As my current job requires a lot of interactions with current and prospective donors, I found a lot of overlap by being a tour guide at Puget Sound. Learning to "tailor" to your audience is a valuable skill, and one that I have carried on with me today in my current job.

CES:What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing a career in nonprofit?

CH: My best advice for someone interested in the nonprofit field is to seek a cause/organization that aligns with your passion. Being a personal recipient of United Way of King County’s service made it easy for me to relate to our mission statement. Find a nonprofit that you are passionate about, and that will enable you to excel. 

One other piece of advice I would like to share is to never underestimate the help and resources available at CES. I became a frequent visitor, whether it was revising my resume for the tenth time, or acquiring interview skills. 

The most valuable lesson CES taught me was the importance of informational interviews. Start early, because you never know who knows who, and it could open up scores of networking opportunities. I did endless amounts of informational interviews, and focused on maintaining key relationships at organizations I knew I wanted to be a part of, such as United Way. 

While an informational interview may fuel more interest in a specific type of job, equally important, you may realize that you are not interested in a specific sector of work. Process of elimination is just as important as realizing what career path you want to take. Someone once told me that patience is a virtue, and I truly believe this. Be proactive, but be patient, things happen for a reason.