GPA 2021 Annual Conference Scholarship Essay by Tricia Gopalakrishnan

As a newer grant writer to the field, I was surprised to learn that a Grant Professionals Conference took place. When I did more research and learned that I could apply for a scholarship, I jumped right on the opportunity. When I found out that I received the scholarship in order to attend my very first GPA Conference, I jumped up and down for 5 whole minutes and proceeded to call everyone in my family. To that, I want to thank the Grant Professionals Foundation again for seeing value in myself and in my professional goals and selecting for this scholarship.

Attending the GPA Conference was a huge win my book. I’ve been a grant professional for less than 2 years. I’m also a one woman department at my organization so I’ve had to learn everything grant related all by myself. It’s been quite a journey. Attending this conference had such an impact on me because I was able to network and learn from other seasoned grant writers. To be honest, I didn’t ask a lot of questions. I did a lot of listening. I was immersed with men and women talking about how their organizations and departments worked. It was very eye opening to hear how everyone worked and/or what was expected of them compared to myself and my job responsibilities. I heard a lot of frustration when it came to the day to day work but I also heard everyone’s passion and dedication to their job and the organization they serve. It was very inspiring.

I decided to sit in a lot early-career sessions such as, “Using Creative Writing Techniques to Space Up Your Grant Narrative!,”Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match: All On-Board in Pursuit (or Not) of Funding,” and “Grant Writers as Tour Guides,” just to name a few. These were all so useful to me and I learned quite a lot. I was also quite happy to learn that I was on the right track with some the things these professionals were teaching. I was sitting there thinking, “Oh! I know that!” It gave me a sense of comfort knowing that I was learning and on-track with other early grant writing professionals.

I also decided to sit in a freelance session called, “Taking the Plunge – Transitioning from Grant Writer to Consultant.” This was an extremely useful session for me. Before I entered into the NPO world, I always dreamed of being my own boss. I wanted the flexibility to make my own schedule, worked when I wanted (I’m more of a night owl) and to be charge of my financial success. When I began grant writing in the summer of 2020, I knew I eventually wanted to open up my own business. After years of searching, I finally felt like I found the right career path for me. With that being said, it is my pleasure to let the Grant Professionals Foundation know that in 2022, I will be doing just that! I plan to open up my own grant writing consultancy firm in 2022! I plan to take some classes from grant professionals that I truly look up such as Dr. Bev Browning and Holly Rustik. From there, I will start taking clients on part time basis with the hopes of fully transitioning to working full time as a freelance grant consultant in late 2022 or early 2023. I also plan to watch all freelance grant consultancy sessions that the GPA provided in 2021. In short, this conference was EXTREMELY useful to me and it is such an honor to have had the opportunity to attend. I look forward to attending in years to come and can’t wait to continue to learn from my fellow grant professionals. Thank you again for all you do!