Career Spotlight: Erik Martinez

How did you first discover Jumpstart?

I graduated in 2016 from UCLA and I participated in Jumpstart all four years—serving as a Corps Member, Team Leader, and Volunteer Coordinator. It really started off as a work-study opportunity–but I saw the impact on children at their most pivotal moment in development and working with Jumpstart leadership was really inspiring. My experience also influenced me to pick up an education minor. 

How did Jumpstart impact your career plans?

I knew I wanted to work in education—but teaching wasn’t for me. I actually spoke with Alberto Mendezo and Gary Jimenez, both were members of Jumpstart leadership at the time, regarding pathways I could take and learned a bit more about development. I really wanted to make an impact. I felt like development really allows me to draw on some of the “soft skills” I learned through Jumpstart around connecting with people. 

How did you get started in the field of advancement?

I wanted to get into nonprofit management and a social impact field. After college, I moved home and I was working full-time at Starbucks while interviewing for development jobs. I eventually started as a Development Coordinator at UCLA. In that role, I provided support for the Development Officers and completed high-priority projects and research.

What’s your current role?

Currently, I’m the Assistant Director of Development and Alumni Relations at UCLA Dentistry. I manage our alumni programming and events to identify and cultivate annual and major donors. I work with a wide range of different constituencies and personalities and really enjoy the field of development. 

What are your next steps and plans?

I am planning to pursue a higher ed graduate program full-time and then hopefully come back to education—or even an organization like Jumpstart one day. My dad always instilled in me that a quality education was critical to your success. As a first generation student having had the opportunity of a quality university education, I really value this work. I enjoy being able to connect donors with their passion to enhance education, because I believe education serves as the fundamental building block of success. 

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in development?

I would say take advantage of your time with Jumpstart and really get involved—volunteer for special events, literacy fairs, community events and see how that works in terms of planning and marketing. Be willing to really work, engage, and make the most of your experience. 

Together, we can help all children build the key language and literacy skills they need to take on the world.

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