Having concluded my first full-week as a Global Kid employee, I thought it would be helpful to put down some of my initial impressions and thoughts. Overall, it has been really great week. I am starting to get a clearer picture of how the GK team operates and works with teens as well as the various institutions it partners with, and my own role in the organization.
The work environment has a nice informal, start-up / non-profit feel
to it, nearly always a hubbub of activities and multiple conversations.
Everyone, from the cleaning lady to the executive director, are all on
one open floor. I think the only place you can go and
shut out your co-workers is the restroom. The downside is that sometimes you need to put on your headphones if you need to
concentrate. But I personally prefer this work environment to closed
off, seperate office spaces or Cubicle-ville.
My division of Global Kids, the Online Leadership Program, is situated in a
section my co-worker Rafi calls "The Cave" for some reason. It’s not particularly
cavernous or full of bats, but it does exist in its own somewhat
seperate sphere of activity (mostly virtual), distinct from the rest of
the office. Almost all of the other staff are trainers who work in various schools throughout New York City, several of whom were actual alumni of Global Kid’s programs.
It’s a very diverse and young staff of about 50 employees, a large percentage of the staff being people of color, and more women than men. Everyone seems quite well-traveled, several having lived abroad at some stage of their life. You hear bits of Spanish, Mandarin and Danish throughout the day.
It’s a completely Mac-based office, which is super-awesome.
Going home at the end of the day, I typically walk past one of the after-school trainings that Global Kids organizes. A dozen to twenty-some teens are having a boistrous discussion, or listening to one of the trainers, or huddled around several MacBooks.
In most of my past non-profit jobs — with the exception of a brief stint as a homeless job counselor — I have often felt divorced from the reality of who specifically all this work is supposed to be benefiting. Either I was organizing a high-level strategy meeting at the UN or putting out a web newsletter or drafting a grant proposal to a foundation. But whose life was measurably better because of my own work? It was hard to say.
At least going home at the end of the day at Global Kids, I can see some of the faces of the folks our work is helping become successful students and global citizens. I think I like that.