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What’s it like to work for a non-profit?

For the past year, I’ve been working as a digital marketing consultant for a nonprofit, located in Silicon Valley, California. I visited the office for the first time a few months back, and enjoyed driving past Facebook and Google, and seeing a self-driving Google car around Palo Alto. The future is near, folks.

Posing in an InSTEDD polo on an off-day (Credit: My wife Cris with the nice photo)

The nonprofit that I work with is InSTEDD, which was created from a prize-winning TED talk by Larry Brilliant, and the main focus of the nonprofit is to use technology for humanitarian aid.

I must say that working on projects such as bettering digital disease detection in West Africa, environmental mapping in Rio de Janeiro, and UAV/Drone use for humanitarian relief in Southeast Asia is way, way more interesting to me than working on a website to sell dating website subscriptions, or antivirus software. Is the income as passive? No, it is not, but thankfully the work is engaging, meaningful, and I can still work from home.

Working at the InSTEDD iLab in Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Same polo shirt 😉

I was in Cambodia in the beginning of the year, working with the iLab Southeast Asia, to help them better communicate and tell their story during an important software launch with the CDC Cambodia. My main role was to help script an informational video, and do so while working closely with the communications lead. This was to help build capacity in the film-making area, so that future projects by the iLab could be covered in this way. We are working on the final edits as I type this post. It’s a video project that included clips taken in California, Cambodia, and New York City. The scripting was pretty difficult, as the context of each interview was not the same, however I think we’ve done a great job and I’m looking forward to watching the final edit.

Behind the Scenes – Interviewing Channe, Regional Lead of the iLab Southeast Asia, for the video piece that I was sent to direct

The big benefit of traveling to Southeast Asia for work is being paid to travel. It’s something that I always romanticized. This idea of stepping on the plane, consulting with others in a faraway place, and also having time to enjoy my surroundings. I was lucky enough to be able to make that happen on this trip. I toured Bangkok and Koh Lanta in Thailand for 10 days before I had to work, which helped a lot with my jetlag… and I then toured the temples of Angkor Wat, the beaches of the south, and Saigon, Vietnam, after I had finished my week of work.

Update: Here’s the finished video that I had worked on in Cambodia:

In total I was gone for a month, and I caught myself at various times telling myself how grateful I was that not only I was traveling in Southeast Asia, but was doing so for work.


Categories: Travel, Work