Joseph Bardsley

Development Manager, Music on Main 
Graduated in 2005
1. Where did you do your internship while in MRU Journalism?
EnCana (2004); Alberta Theatre Projects (2005); in a corporate community investment support role, and a communications and fundraising coordinator position, respectively.

2. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you have liked to give yourself as you started your internship?
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to stand out as a keener. (Really!) And, take advantage of each day as an opportunity (even when you're, perhaps, doing something tedious). You're an ambassador for your program, and for MRU. Colleagues you encounter will almost always want to ensure that your experience is as positive, supportive, and inclusive as possible as a contributor to your learning journey.

If you’re working for a smaller organization, or a nonprofit, it’s very likely you’ll be asked to do something not traditionally associated with your job description at some point. Never say no! Not only does being a team player help forge important relationships (that have a habit of enduring), but it also opens you up to learning opportunities that can shape your future plans and directions. Come early to the AGM; help the admin person place a catering order; go to that weekend event you were invited to. This is pretty much the one job you’ll have where your only real job is to soak up experiences and learn all that you can.

3. What is something that really stands out when you think about your time at MRU Journalism?
The great conversations with faculty, colleagues, and friends. The degree of real-life "how-to-be-a-human" experience that you don't realize you're obtaining until years after the fact. And, how welcoming and kind the faculty were. Also, how, in the context of my time in the program (pre-social media and Web 2.0, and in the ebbing days of traditional print journalism) the staff and faculty really were operating with real courage and generosity of spirit in terms of preparing us all for an unknown future.

4. In your career, what type of work has most excited you, and why?
As someone who’s spent the last decade-and-a-half, plus in performing arts philanthropy, the short summary of my work would be: I raise money from individual donors, corporations, foundations, and government agencies to support programming and activities undertaken by arts organizations where I work. This has included time in roles at Alberta Theatre Projects, Theatre Calgary, Vancouver Opera, and Music on Main. On any given day, you might find me crafting an annual appeal letter, putting a corporate sponsorship proposal together, researching local family foundations, or preparing a government grant proposal. It’s all storytelling in some form, and the basics all came from my undergraduate journalism experience.

To get really specific, the most exciting element of this kind of work, for me, would be grant writing. For me, grant and proposal development in support of an organizational mission or strategy is storytelling distilled down to its core elements. It’s also a close cousin to journalism: impeccable research, innate curiosity, a knowledge of your audience, and an instinct for storytelling are your watchwords in the same way they would serve a feature piece. In both instances, your work is fundamentally meant to compel an audience, engage a reader, and affect a desired outcome.

5. What is the most important but unwritten rule that you’ve learned on the job?
Always tell the truth. Also, good intentions shine through, even when you don’t realize it. And, one of my favorite unwritten, but implicit ways of working, and being in the world: “Uncomfortable? Maybe. Unsafe? Never.”

6. How transferrable were the skills you acquired in your education?

As a nonprofit arts fundraiser: curiosity, an interest in people, storytelling skills, and the ability to shape narratives for different kinds of audiences were all really key. I learned a lot by doing (sometimes successfully, other times less so), but this was an important foundation upon which I was able to innovate, take calculated risks, and learn.