I’ve known Crystal White for a long time, since I volunteered with Girls Rock! DC in its earliest years. (Among many, many, many accomplishments, Crystal was a founding organizer for the group which is now entering its ninth year of programming.) A few years later, after running into one another a few times around town, we found ourselves in similar jobs and officially reconnected. Crystal is a delightful person, warm and generous but willing to cut through the nonsense and be candid too. Although Crystal is now in a role she enjoys at the National Press Club, she’s been an active member of career book club and has sent me tons of great job listings, most of which I’ve ended up applying for (and some of which I interviewed for). She also reliably shares fascinating articles and events on Facebook, so I never scroll past her updates.
I’m psyched to present this two-part interview with Crystal, which is bursting with her sunny outlook, lived professional experience, and passion for helping others. In part one, she shares a bit about her career and outlook. She’s done a LOT in her 35 years and I think it’s all awesome. In part two, coming next week, she’ll share some of her secrets for finding the job listings that fit like Cinderella’s glass slipper. Please enjoy!
What is your job?
Administrator for National Press Club Journalism Institute.
Why did you accept your current job?
I was looking for a position with a supervisor who could also be a professional mentor. I know that I have a skill set that is needed and necessary in the nonprofit sector; I needed a boost in professional confidence to refocus on what my professional strengths are and what I want to get out of work.
Tell me about work you’ve done, in this job or a past one, that made you proud.
- I’ve helped to train groups of senior reading tutors to work with elementary school students who need the extra boost in reading support.
- Co-founded a storytelling and book festival for youth and families.
- Co-founder of Girls Rock! DC, a local youth empowerment org using music as a tool to create a supportive, inclusive and creative space for girls to develop their self-confidence, build community, stand up and rock out!
- Managed a corporate group’s first social responsibility/volunteer project; built 9 Free Little Libraries then shared throughout the city.
- Led a dozen free community dinners for those who are hungry and/or experiencing homelessness, using hundreds of volunteer staff.
- Created and staffed a weekly youth volunteer project bringing dinners to elderly residents of a senior apartment building.
What would you do tomorrow if your job disappeared?
Well, that’s happened. lol. I feel bad for a little bit, pick myself back up and then let my friends and professional contacts know that i’m looking for work and what type of things I’m looking to get out of my next job. Next I look at my finances to figure out where I am and what I need to get through the next couple months at minimum.
What do you do outside of work, and how do you make time to do these things?
- I get to help girls rock camps organizers around the world connect with each other and share resources.
- I get to make music with friends in a band called Coup Sauvage and the Snips and we have a lot of fun. We will have an album coming out early next year!
- I really love museums and learning about art and try to prioritize taking advantage of the city’s free museums and events. Also, I love the film series at the Japan International Cultural Center. Living in the city makes my decision to go to events or museum easier because the commute isn’t too far. So, I read up on the exhibits or speakers/films I want to see and stick them in my google calendar. I often invite friends to join but I also love going to experience art and culture by myself.
- I loved being in school band in middle and high school (drum line in marching band, band president senior year – woot woot!) yet stopped playing music after 18. I was inspired by all of the youth making music and building bands through GR!DC so I figured I should also try what they were doing too. CS+TS is the third band I’ve been in as an adult (one a short lived cover band and another, downbeat:beatdown, with fellow former marching band lovers) and it’s been really important to have a creative outlet and a personal project to collaborate on with people I enjoy. My experience being in bands has been a great exercise in getting to work on a shared and often flexible vision with people I really respect and learn from.
- GR!DC and GRCA (Girls Rock Camp Alliance) has afforded me opportunities in professional growth and skills that my paid work often hasn’t. I think I was a passionate manager of volunteers but I don’t think I was doing the type of work that best suits my skills. So getting to explore and try new things through my service work has expanded how I approach my professional career.