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Three Things I Learned During my First Year as a Grant Professional: What I Wish I Knew Sooner



Not only does springtime mean warmer weather and sunnier days, but – more importantly for me – it marks a year since I began my journey as a professional grant writer. What a ride it has been! I’ve learned a lot this past year and am thrilled to share what I’ve learned during this journey, from the highs and lows to the friends we made along the way!


Embrace the Learning Curve


You must embrace the learning rollercoaster! Eager as I was to get started as a grant writer, the jargon and various proposal formats immediately threw me and my confidence for a loop. Grant portals within grant portals left me even more lost – not to mention all the requirements and terms funders have for budgets. Although I wasn’t entirely new to the world of grants, I quickly felt I might not be smart enough to hold my own in the grant-writing space. 


I began to adapt, however, and slowly things began to click. I soon found myself guiding clients through the processes that I used to struggle with – no longer does the grants.gov website give me pause! And while budgets still make me queasy, viewing every step as a learning experience helped me to navigate all the twists and turns grant writing throws at you.

 

The Power of Teamwork


You’ve probably heard the corporate mantra, “Teamwork makes the dream work!” This statement has never rung more true for me than as a grant writer. The wealth of knowledge in this space is almost more important than the wealth of the funders! There is nothing more cathartic than sharing war stories and lessons learned from an application gone wrong. My team has always been happy to share these lessons, helping me learn the dos and don’ts of this space without having to experience them for myself. Turns out my teammates know what they’re talking about after all!


Storytelling: Beyond Just Budgets


In my younger years, I thought grant writing was all about numbers and pie charts. After this year, I realized I was wrong! Grant applications can sometimes seem like there’s only room for bland data that makes you question your love for the Oxford comma, but crafting compelling narratives that tug at heartstrings and open purse strings is where the real magic happens. Who knew my knack for storytelling would come in handy outside of talking to myself?


As I bid adieu to my first year in the wild world of grant writing, I raise a glass (or maybe a third cup of coffee) to the triumphs, trials, and invaluable lessons learned along the way. Here's to embracing the chaos, celebrating the victories, and continuing this wild ride with a grin on my face and a twinkle in my eye. Onward, grant warriors, to new adventures and even more outrageous tales!


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