10 Questions with Shameka Harrington - Part-Time Research Assistant/Part-Time Job Seeker

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day for me now starts bright and early. My job requires me to visit various child care centers in a number of counties, so I’m usually around 3-4 year old children from 8am-5:30pm. While at the centers I observe mealtimes and levels of physical activity as a part of a nutrition-based research study. My job is a temporary position scheduled to end in September, so on days where I’m not spending all day in a center I’m in front of my laptop searching Indeed.com for my next opportunity.

What are you working on right now?

Currently, my main project is landing a job I can be proud of (and enjoy). September will be here before I know it, and I don’t want to return to an unpleasant season of unemployment. It’s nice to have a deadline in mind, but it doesn’t make the process any easier.

What was your path to get where you are today?

My path closely resembles a maze, complete with dead-ends and numerous roundabouts. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to learn who I am, and that is still a process. And I am ok with that. However, once I began my work in the nonprofit sector I was hooked. I actually found my position through the YNPN Triangle NC listserv!

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

The schedule for my position is not what I’m used to. I was used to sitting behind a desk and working a consistent 9-5 job, but now I spend a lot of time in a car travelling with my coworkers. It’s been a challenge to adjust.

How do you effectively balance your time?

In a way I feel like I’m living two different lives. On one hand I am currently employed and although I’m technically a part-time employee, I usually work full-time hours. On the other hand I can’t forget this job will soon end, so I have to find time to search for and apply to other jobs, ideally one that is full-time and permanent. Being intentional and scheduling out when to do what has been a lifesaver for me.

What are five tools you use on a regular basis?

  • Google – Email, Calendar, Search, Maps…..it’s a little ridiculous.
  • Indeed.org
  • Idealist.org
  • Instagram
  • Spotify

What is the best career advice you have been given?

Don’t apologize for doing what is right for you.

Who or what inspires you?

My family – biological and YNPN Triangle NC board. Both groups have been major pillars of support during this time. Their understanding and wisdom have helped me to stay encouraged.

Why do you do what you do?

I applied for my position because it combined child development and research, two areas I’m interested in. There’s something really cool about watching children develop differently over a span of time. I’ve always preferred to be behind the scenes rather than providing direct services, and this job helps me to do that. I’m hoping this experience will lead me to an even better opportunity doing the same thing.

Who should we interview next?

Joye Hodges – Director of Marketing and Events, NC Center for Nonprofits
Sandi Matthews - Technical Manager, Not-for-Profit Content Development Member Learning & Competency, AICPA
Brent Laurenz – Executive Director, N.C. Center for Voter Education

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