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Non-Profit Narishkeit: The Life and Times of an Intern in the Non-Profit Jewish World

Week 2: Sorry, Staples

By Jonny Gottlieb

Hello again, old friends. So this week with the mugs under control, I now had the confidence to tackle anything that came my way. Next up was ordering a poster from Staples.

Once upon a time I thought of Staples as an ally. A place where I could go to relax. Every September, before the school year started, my mom and I would begin our ritual of purchasing hoards of unnecessary school supplies to last me through the year and beyond. If you can’t already tell, a big theme in my life is desk paraphernalia (I’m really fun). Anyways, so my new project was ordering a poster to be used in a meeting the next day. I figured this would be easy. It’s my old stomping ground. I’m in my element.What could go wrong?

Well, what could go wrong is hypothetically not fully understanding how to order said poster via email. And, hypothetically, having to email back and forth with the “Copy Center Team” so many times that even though it’s supposed to read as if it was automated, you could tell their emails were beginning to get snippy.

I eventually got an enthusiastic “Thank You!” from CC1574 and I was off to go pick up my creation. After the initial confusion of my name not actually being “The Jewish Education Project”, I was eventually handed the right poster. The only problem was that it wasn’t mounted on anything. And that the order couldn’t be rushed in time. And that the Copy Center Team seemed to be in as bad of a mood in person as they were electronically. After momentarily worrying about the future of this poster, and by default the future of all Jewish Education, I realized I probably had enough artistic ability to buy a poster board and finish the job myself.

I rushed back to work and began to cut and paste. After an undisclosed amount time I produced a poster any Copy Center would be proud to call their own. But just as I thought the excitement of the day was over, I was informed that Tuesday’s big meeting would be overshadowed. The first strategy discussion to reach out to next 50 congregations would take place right afterwards.

On Tuesday I was to help set up for the first meeting. This mostly involved getting assorted dressings and juices on my clothing. That’s all part of the give and take of Jewish non-profits. I put in tens of minutes of work setting up and got two whole meals for free.

My only worry was that after this all-day meeting with various speakers and tons of delicious food, everyone would forget about my clearly more important meeting. This was my big break and I wasn’t going to let any amount of quinoa salad get in my way.

Quinoa, the newest addition to my ever-growing list of nemeses

Quinoa, the newest addition to my ever-growing list of nemeses

By the time 4 o’ clock rolled around I was amped and ready to go meet. I saddled up my notepad and walked into the conference room determined to participate to the best of my abilities. While it turns out my verbal contributions were limited to opening and closing mumblings and the chewing of chocolate bars, I sat and listened and learned a lot. As a group we (they) went through what had succeeded and failed in the past, and brainstormed about what exactly it would take to get new congregations on board. I nodded and laughed at all the right times and as the meeting wound down I was given instructions on how to help move forward with the research. I left the room excited and nervous for the task at hand, but I knew I had lots of support and already felt like part of a solid team. We could totally take on those guys at the Copy Center.

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