New York Women in Communications' annual Member Empowerment Grant is for NYWICI members of at least three consecutive years who want to pursue professional development opportunities. Awards are granted for continuing education courses, conference attendance, career coaching and more.
The deadline for the 2016 Fall grant is October 11, 2016. Learn more
about the application process and apply online
We asked 5 previous winners about their experience with the grant, its application process and why they applied:
1. What prompted you to apply for the grant?
Rachel Bowie (2013): My day job was focusing more and more on packaging when it came to the stories I was writing. I heard about Blogshop, a Photoshop boot camp for bloggers that teaches you the basics in a 48-hour workshop. MEG was my ticket to a class that would drastically enhance my digital creativity and visual eye long-term.
Megan Hess (2015): Taking a web development class — a true coding course, not one I could do on my own time online — had long been on my career wish list. There was only one thing stopping me from enrolling: the high price tag. The NYWICI MEG grant offered a way that I could finally make that dream happen.
Erica Martell (2013): I was inspired to apply for the grant while reading Brene Brown's "Daring Greatly," which empowered me to step out of my comfort zone and make a difference in my career ambitions.
Bridget Thoreson (2015): I began [a certificate] program on my own. When I realized I was eligible for the most recent round of MEG applications, I knew that’s what I’d want to use the funding for — it is making a huge difference in how quickly I’m able to complete the program.
Melissa Weisstuch (2014): I was interested in taking some courses to further my experience in digital marketing. The tools and technologies continue to evolve, and the job I held at the time did not provide the opportunity to use these tools.
2. What did you think of the application process?
Rachel Bowie: It was really organized and efficient. I found that planning ahead made all the difference, especially since you need a letter of recommendation. You need to allow yourself time to have a clear picture of what you’re applying for (the competition is steep!), but also allow time to loop in the person who’s writing your letter of recommendation so they best understand your career aspirations and goals for the grant.
*Editor's Note - A letter of recommendation is not required, just the name of a NYWICI member who will serve as a reference.
Megan Hess: What I liked best about the application was that it cut to the chase — there weren’t pages upon pages of essay questions, as there are for some grant applications. The interview process was similarly ‘let’s-get-down-to-business,’ which I appreciated.
Erica Martell: The application process was fairly painless. The interview was a little intimidating when meeting with 5 top business women who were interested in talking about me.
Bridget Thoreson: I thought the whole process was very simple and straightforward. It was really nice to have the interview with a panel and to get the opportunity to meet so many women who are high up in the organization.
Melissa Weisstuch: The written application was very straightforward, as was the interview.
3. How did you use your grant?
Rachel Bowie: I enrolled in a two-day workshop called Blogshop, taught by west coast blogger Bri Emery of Design Love Fest and Angela Kohler, a photographer. It was hosted in New York in Brooklyn and it was fantastic.
Megan Hess: A 10-week front-end web development course at General Assembly.
Erica Martell: I used the MEG grant for a communications course curriculum at Landmark Education (two part course).
Bridget Thoreson: I’m using my MEG funding to take classes at NYU. I’m enrolled in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies Certification in Editing. I need to complete two more courses in order to earn my certificate.
Melissa Weisstuch: I took two courses at the New York University School of Professional Studies – one provided an overview of various digital technologies and the other covered search marketing including SEO and Google AdWords.
4. How has the grant made a difference in your career?
Rachel Bowie: It’s made a huge difference in my career. Having Photoshop skills has helped me with everything from building design files for video projects to editing art for blog posts to visually mocking up ideas for meetings and presentations. There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t open Photoshop and use my skills — and I’m not a graphic designer, I’m a writer!
Megan Hess: Not concretely just yet — but I’ve already found small ways to incorporate it into projects and tools that we’re building in the Mashable newsroom. Our product team is working on building a new content management system right now, for example, so I’ve already found my development experience extremely useful in communicating to them what kind of changes we should make in the new CMS.
Erica Martell: I had a lot of experience with managing projects and tasks. This focused on how to manage and work with people more effectively, which helped transform my relationship with clients. I learned how best to ascertain their needs so I could deliver.
Bridget Thoreson: I think the certificate will help me make an important career transition. I’m still in the middle of the program, so I haven’t completely earned the credentials. However, the knowledge I’ve gained so far has made a huge impact on how I see my career and industry and has definitely helped strength existing skills and develop new ones.
Melissa Weisstuch: The project I completed for the search marketing course has already had an impact on the nonprofit organization I promoted on AdWords.
5. Do you consider the MEG a valuable benefit of NYWICI membership?
Rachel Bowie: MEG is a huge benefit of a NYWICI membership. It is such a gift to have an organization that supports you regardless of the career phase you’re in. I also like that you first have to show commitment to the organization with a handful of years of service — then NYWICI reciprocates by investing back in you.
Megan Hess: An extremely valuable one. It shows that NYWICI is committed to rewarding and furthering the education of its committed members, not just potential new members and/or students. The media industry is a fickle one, and programs like MEG attract the type of media professionals who want to make a difference.
Erica Martell: Yes, it’s a great opportunity to give back directly to NYWICI members.
Bridget Thoreson: Absolutely. I’m not aware of any other programs for getting general funding for career skills. So many careers require skills that are constantly evolving and it can keep difficult to keep up. Being part of an organization that can help you stay ahead is a huge draw.
Melissa Weisstuch: MEG is an incredible benefit. It allows the grantee to further her knowledge in an area of her choice that will benefit her career.
6. Any advice for members considering applying for a MEG?
Rachel Bowie: Think hard about your career goals and what experiences/skills — big or small — could enhance that trajectory. The skill you’re looking to add may not cost thousands of dollars, but it would make a difference if someone could take the financial burden off of you. I like to think of MEG as a source of encouragement to not let go of my interests and dreams.
Megan Hess: Don’t just think about how the MEG will affect you — think about how you can use it to give back to others, including the NYWICI community.
Erica Martell: Do your homework about where you’ll get the most benefit from a grant. Whether it be digital marketing at NYU, pursuing an MBA or project management, consider your career goals.
Bridget Thoreson: Your application is centered on how you would use the grant, so be sure to think long and hard about which step is best for you right now, and be sure you can articulate how the MEG will impact your career.
7. Are there one or two quick tidbits of knowledge that you learned through your MEG-funded program that you can share with your fellow NYWICI members?
Rachel Bowie: It’s a lot easier to make your blog look professional and polished than you think. Knowing just a few Photoshop shortcuts are proof — a little goes a long way.
Megan Hess: When thinking about responsive design for a new website, it helps to think mobile first — and then expand out. Programming isn’t about learning a particular programming language; it’s about learning how to think like a computer.
Erica Martell: Communications is more about listening than speaking.
Melissa Weisstuch: Did you know that Google offers AdWords grants for nonprofit organizations? The grants provide up to $329