Being the Office Newbie – Surviving Day # 1

Hi everyone, I hope you all had a productive reading week and got some good news back from your field placements. Before our NYA field trip, I finalized my placement at Diasporic Genius and started the same week. Up till this point, I’ve been going to their office at 401 Richmond every Thursday and Friday.

16830958_1282176281877307_5011340104282480610_nStaring off my first day, I showed up a little earlier before the time they asked me to – just to be extra prepare for the unanticipated morning downtown traffic. I had a brief meeting with Roula Said, DG’s administrator where she gave me a short orientation of the existing programming at DG and went over some other new things they would like to try out in the future. (The orientation ended with a coffee lesson on the manual espresso press!) She also introduced me to Park People and UrbanSpace, who we share the office with. One thing I learned about working out of a shared workspace is that you get to build strong connections among your colleagues and peers. For instance, Cara Eastcott, the interim artistic director of Tangled Art + Disability showed up at one of our circles, so does Sean from Park People.

As an office intern, my main objective is to give administrative support and help structure their so-called ‘brain baby’.The most recent project they have was the ‘Circle Not Walls’, a series of cross-cultural story circle workshops. I caught up the last two sessions of the series and helped mostly with project closing, including post-event newsletter followups with MailChimp and SurveryMonkey, mailing list update and evaluation. Some other tasks that I was assigned to through out the first two weeks also includes building Asana, organizing media database, updating website content via wordpress and creating fundraising video pitch via Final Pro Cut. 

DG Team Calendar I helped create
Event Planning for the Next Series of Event – 7 Minutes Feast !


From what I’ve observed, lack of sustainability is one of the biggest challenges as a small-scale arts organization that started out as a grass-root initiative. With the Ontario Trillium Foundation multi-year fund ending this year, they really set fundraising as the main objective for 2017. As of right now, DG is preparing for TAC’s refugee and newcomers grant which falls under their strategic funding program, OTF’s Seed Grant and Grow Grant and  Metcalf Foundation’s opportunity grants and discretionary fund

The other thing I find interesting is their working relationship. It only dawned on me that our AD and ED are married couples one time I stumbled on an interview piece on the internet, after my second week of work, after countless conversations we had. (and yes it was a little awkward.) However, as partners in both work and life, I feel like its hard to set perimeters and establish a real separation between work and home, no matter how important that might be. Roula would often end up bring work home and working off holiday with David on the other hand, touring as frequent as every 2 week. On top of that, there are sometimes power conflicts regarding the nature of the relationship. I’d just say that its a mixed blessing.





11 thoughts on “Being the Office Newbie – Surviving Day # 1

  1. Thats so awesome to hear that you get to connect with people from other organizations! The more networking the better! 🙂 Since you said that the AD and ED are married, do you think there are possible constraints to that? Or even conflicts that could arise?


    1. Hello Tamara,
      Networking opportunity is amazing here! I always take short breather between my work hours just to get some fresh air and stretch out a bit. It’s also nice to wander around the building and explore what they have to offer! Back to what you were asking, being married definitely has its strengths and losses. One of the biggest perk being able to share the same goals and value with your partner and dream about your lives together, every step of the way. However, one possible constraint to that would be lack of clear division of roles in their working relationship which results in inefficiency. Things move slow because the boundaries are blurred and everyone does a bit of everything.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tess, thanks for commenting! I am mostly in charge of the admin side of thing, including strategic planning, researching around fundraising and creating marketing materials etcetera.


  2. Thank you for letting us know about all the tasks you were assigned, Ching! You used so many programs! Mailchimp, SurveyMonkey, Asana, wordpress, and Final Cut Pro, even! I really like all the photos you took. Very diverse look at the work you are doing. You say they want to focus on fundraising. Have they shared with you their fundraising ideas? Perhaps you can help them out with that too!


    1. I dedicated my latest blog post to this issue. In short, they’re seeking fundings from outside the usual grant pool. So corporate sponsorship, foundations, private gifts, individual donation and crowdfunding are what they’re going after next, starting with a comprehensive list of what’s available in the real world!


  3. Amazing Ching! I’m impressed with all the applications and software you’re able to play with now. The couple thing sounds weird though. Is Diasporic Genius an nonprofit organization (incorporated) or just an association? Does it have a board?


    1. Hi Karen,
      DG is affiliated with Tides Canada. Tides is a national-wide mother organization to them and hence provide help and guidance. DG can leverage Tides resources including board and senior management, legal oversight and much more. So to answer your question, DG is a not for profit organization but it doesn’t have its own registered charity number with CRA. In this sense, all donation and private gifts to DG would be funnelled through Tides Platform.


  4. Wow, that’s so amazing you got to experience using all these different software programs, I’m kinda jealous haha. For my placement I work in a shared space as well, and I agree that it enables you to build relationships with others much easily. Do you enjoy working in a shared workspace? Or do you find there’s any negative aspects (such as the noise and the constant walking in/out of the office, personally speaking)


    1. I don’t mind the noice or distractions per se. Still, people in the office are pretty mindful of each other’s presence- with human decency and office courtesy/etiquette! They often move to the common space or board room in case of meeting or phone calls.


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