Rachael Silvano, Manager of Community Programs at Pragmatic, unpacks the perks of being a 'community chameleon', and why the future of community is so bright.
Rachael: "I was particularly lucky — when I started in the Community world, I got a hands-on Fellowship through the Community Roundtable. Think of it as going from 'I think I like community stuff!' to being in the NASA control room.
When there, I helped with metrics and analytics and engagement programming. It provided a leaping-off point for my entire career, and was a great exposure to the ins and outs of what a Community Manager does. To me, it was the perfect blend of creative rigor and technical acumen - I could be outgoing on the days I wanted to, and put on an oversized hoodie and dive into metrics on the days I didn’t!"
R: "If there is one that stands out, I think I’m a community chameleon. I’ve worked in communities with members who have done everything from pharmaceutical supply chain management to non-profit youth workers. Needless to say, I’ve gotten very comfortable knowing that I will never be the subject matter expert in the community I run (but certainly know my stuff on how to set up a good party).
R: "I left a job making really great money to work with a trusted peer. It’s a tough lesson to learn that while a paycheck can make your non-work life pretty comfortable, liking what you do for the majority of your week time adds up (quickly) in value.
As I’ve continued on my journey I’ve learned to advocate more that I want to exchange my hours for a Community that has my back. Earlier this year when I had to take some personal time, I felt beyond supported. I have definitely worked at organizations where that type of care is not encouraged, and it causes pretty prolific burnout (a thing we often see in the space)."
R: "Oof. Well for one, I wish I invested in a standing desk! But seriously, I think setting boundaries for myself was a big one that I struggled with. The feeling that if your slack dot wasn’t green you were failing (even if it was 8 p.m. on a Friday) was a tough one for me. To truly disconnect, even knowing that you may have to lower your standards, was something I could have benefited from years ago.
Now I hike mountains on the weekends and make sure I come back to my work refreshed and ready to give 100%, rather than always being 'sort of' on the clock and not being my best."
R: "The future feels right at our doorstep, doesn’t it? I think as the space keeps evolving and growing, I hope that we start to see more consistency in the industry, particularly around roles. If there was a community degree you could earn at a university, that would make my heart happy."