Alison has lived many careers in one lifetime. She started as an on-staff editor at women’s magazines like Wish and FASHION magazine, then she jumped to PR and landed at Joe Fresh and since 2014, she’s been at Rethink Breast Cancer where she’s currently the VP – Marketing and Communications. While she was climbing the ranks and soaking in experience at every career rung, she also gave her time to organizations such as CANFAR and the Stephen Lewis Foundation. “I’ve had some pretty interesting jobs but have always complimented them with charitable experiences because I had the time and the passion,” she says. “Both of my parents were political activists and it was a no-brainer to contribute on the side. I never thought of the charity sector as a full-time career until a couple of years ago.”
Today, she feels especially happy and at-home in her work life because it has combined all her passions and says making the leap from commerce to a charitable organization is a transition that anyone can position themselves for. It just takes a trifecta of excitement, talent and tenacity.
How-to get a job in the charity sector
1. Take time to discover what you love to do. “I know I couldn’t do the job I have now if I hadn’t experienced everything I did. Magazines taught me the art of storytelling then I transitioned to PR because I was interested in the bigger picture when it came to communications and strategy. While I was at Joe Fresh, I got versed in digital marketing and charity partnerships, including campaigns with Rethink Breast Cancer. It was during this time that I had an a-ha moment and started to dream about focusing on the corporate responsibility arm of a company. So when the Rethink opportunity came about, it felt like it was the right time to combine my philanthropic spirit with a forward-thinking charity. It took me years of building my skills and self-discovery to find myself in the position I am today.”
2. Find a charity—and a culture—you can vibe with. “I didn’t find the transition to working for a charity that different from where I came from, because Rethink thinks like a brand, which is what I love about it. I don’t know that every charity could have offered me that. One of the reasons they reached out to me was to increase their digital footprint and help fulfill their mission to educate, empower, and advocate for a digitally-savvy, millennial audience; it’s some of the most creative work I’ve done.”
3. Volunteer. Repeat. Volunteer. Repeat. “Once you’ve found a charitable organization that you feel passionate about, there are many ways in which you can donate your time. Join an event committee for a specific function. At Rethink, you could commit to our Rethink at the Races, Boobyball or Boobyball Mini committees. You can also lend your expertise and knowledge to a charity by joining an advisory or young professional board, like our R3, which is a lighter commitment than joining a board of directors..”
4. Get out of your comfort zone. “When you volunteer, try on a skill set that you don’t normally use in your day-to-day job. If you’re in PR, why not try event decor or produce a video? Trying something new will give you a full picture of an organization and also help you discover and develop new skills.”
ROOM TOUR A main floor conversation starter
We met Alison in her home and naturally, we couldn’t resist sharing more than her career know-how. Here’s a peek at the open-concept hub of her main floor where she loves to entertain and chill out. Contemporary and eclectic, she’s finessed a mix of neutral pieces with sprinkles of vintage and pops of colour that soften the modern bones of her town home.
LIVING ROOM LOVE
A LONG HAUL
A GIFT OF GRATITUDE