How I Joined Grantbook: A Place for Hidden Techies

The average Canadian spends 1,688 hours per year working. If they start working full-time at age 21 and retire at age 65, the average Canadian will spend 74,272 hours at work over the course of their life. Given the immense time and energy required to build a fulfilling career, I wanted to make sure to start my career in the right place.

That place, for me, was Grantbook.

What do you currently do at Grantbook?

I work as Grantbook's Creative Services Coordinator; my work runs the gamut from building websites and data visualizations to doing sector research and search engine optimization.

Why did you apply to Grantbook?

When I first started job-seeking, I didn’t know what kind of role I would end up in - but I knew it had to involve three things: technology, design, and purpose. Grantbook ticked all three boxes for me, with the added bonus that the work culture here redefined “purpose”: in addition to taking care of its clients and the wider world, Grantbook also works hard to take care of its employees. We are trusted to self-manage, supported when we need advice, and encouraged to challenge ourselves.

How did you find the role and how was the application process?

My experience of the application process was really positive and straightforward.

I first discovered the job posting through the Centre for Social Innovation's Listserv. (I found out about this awesome co-working space when I was in university; at the time, I was looking for a venue to host a fundraiser I was planning in conjunction with Bright Futures for Young Mothers Canada and University of Toronto's Department of Computer Science Innovation Lab (DCSIL).) 

From that posting, Grantbook's Managing Director at the time, Michelle Moore, reached out to me. Before any formal interview took place, Grantbook had two frank conversations with me. I really appreciated this, because the conversations gave me a chance to get to know the people who I would be working with and to familiarize myself with the work culture. After those conversations, I had two formal interviews with the team and a take-home design challenge to complete.

Describe a magical moment when you realized that Grantbook was the right fit for you.

Just one?! Winnowing it down to one magical moment is really difficult… there were so many moments, big and small, where the Grantbook team's awesomeness shone.

I think I’ll try to summarize the general aura: Grantbook is a pretty magical place because it really inspires you to bring your best self (and your whole self) to work. Everyone here is incredibly clever, truly passionate about changing the world, and sincerely caring. When you’re surrounded by such good people, how can you not be inspired?

What were your biggest challenges when getting used to working at Grantbook?

The biggest challenge getting used to working at Grantbook was actually shifting my mindset away from “conventional work” - the Office Space closed-doors 50-hours-a-week in a cubicle kind of work.

Even though I’d gotten much of my experience before Grantbook from freelancing, I still carried the expectation that I had to ask permission and wait for instructions before I could get anything done. I wasn’t even aware I had this mindset until I started going in to work at Grantbook every day and ran into moments of uncertainty, where I knew what I had to do… but still felt hesitant to start doing it.

Since then I’ve found my own rhythm; although, working at Grantbook is an ongoing and immensely satisfying challenge. On some days, I’m providing technical support and training for clients or researching sector trends. On other days, I’m designing and building websites, optimizing search analytics, or learning new data visualization platforms and techniques.

Do you have any advice for new (and potential) team members?

The best advice I can give to someone looking to build their career at Grantbook is: “know yourself”. The job-seeking process can be full of ambiguity, but you have to be certain about the kind of work you want to do and the culture you want to work in. With that in mind, I can tell you a bit about the type of person who would fit right in at Grantbook.

Grantbook is a place for hidden techies with fuzzy hearts. It doesn’t matter if you have a degree in computer engineering or if you just find joy in the potential of tech to do good: if you relish learning new tools, building your wisdom through failure after failure, and finding purpose in your work while doing all of the above, this is the right place for you.

Maggie Cheung's headshot

Maggie Cheung

Design Consultant

Web & UX Design, Marketing Lead

Maggie is a digital designer and tech enthusiast passionate about leveraging technology to improve how we communicate, collaborate, and contribute to social change. She came to Grantbook with 3 years’ experience in digital design, producing websites and communications for small businesses, and a history of community involvement planning fundraisers and managing a youth development nonprofit in Markham.

At Grantbook, she helps grantmakers tell their impact stories through web design and data visualization, and develop the operational infrastructure to do so through digital and data strategy. Internally, she managers Grantbook’s marketing and communications.

She has a B.Sc. double-majoring in Cognitive Science (Computational Stream) and Psychology, where she developed a foundation in object-oriented programming and cross-disciplinary thinking. A highlight in her undergraduate degree was authoring a paper that draws on cognitive science, sociology, and theology to discuss charity as a practice for developing wisdom, especially in today’s meaning crisis (“Abandoning Agape: Charity as a Case Study for the Meaning Crisis”, available online or in this summary slideshow).