Alumni Spotlight: Markus Jones
Graduation Year: 2006
Degree/Major: B.A. Advertising
Current Employer: University of Southern Mississippi
Hometown: Madison, MS
Currently Reside: Ocean Springs, MS
Current Title: Development Officer
What do you do on a “typical day” of work? There is no such thing as a "typical day" of work as a nonprofit fundraiser. Generally speaking, I spend my days visiting with USM alumni, business leaders, and other individuals who have a vested interested in the University. Much of my time is spent traveling or conducting face-to-face conversations with various individuals with the sole purpose of soliciting financial support for the University. I spend a couple of days a week in my office on campus following up on past conversations and meeting with University faculty/staff to gather information and prepare for the next visit.
What led you to your current job/career choice? I began my career in nonprofit development/marketing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina right out of college. I worked for over 3 years in Gulfport, MS for United Way of South Mississippi, eventually working into the role of Director of Resource Development and Marketing. It was through this role that I really gained valuable experience as a fundraiser and developed many personal and professional relationships that led me back to Southern Miss as a development officer. My relationships and knowledge of the Gulf Coast made me a perfect fit as a fundraiser in the region.
What are some of your career highlights/accomplishments/achievements?
- $2.4M in funding for local nonprofits on the Gulf Coast.
- Helped develop and manage multiple community wide fundraising events (The United Way CEO Talent Show raised over $23K in the second year)
- Managed the United Way Worldwide Alternative Spring Break in BIloxi for 3 years, which saw 400+ volunteers working with multiple local nonprofit organizations along the MS Gulf Coast to rebuild homes after Katrina.
- I have personally raised over $1M in my first 9 months as a development officer at the USM Foundation and look forward to another successful year in 2012.
- Officially started taking graduate courses in MCJ!
What are some other jobs you’ve had before your current position? I had many, but the one that I value the most is my time spent as a Bartender at Chesterfield's. I worked as a Bartender for my last 2 years of college and one year after graduating. I learned more about people, work ethic, and developed personal confidence that I attribute to many of the successes that I have seen thus far.
Why did you choose to attend Southern Miss? I liked the community, the campus and the students. I also wanted to have a fresh start with new friends in a new town and Southern Miss offered all of that. Joining a fraternity also enhanced this experience and allowed me to extend my network and develop many skills that I employ today.
What was your favorite/most useful class while at USM? My Creative Advertising class with KFJ (I took it twice, but only because I was a terrible student.). I thought this class really embodied my idea of what the Advertising industry is like. I also really enjoy the entire creative process.
I would say it was the most useful because I was forced to pay much closer attention to detail and to think of every decision as if my job depended on it. This was a valuable lesson a realized later on when I entered the professional world.
If you could go back today, is there anything you would change about your college experience? I would have been more involved in on-campus organizations or Student Government.
What advice do you have for students going into your field? Nonprofit fundraising is not a field that one can fully prepare for in a classroom. I stumbled into this line of work and find myself using many skills that I learned on campus and off campus. My advice for anyone looking to get into nonprofit management is to keep your eyes and ears wide open at all times. Use every relationship, class, and experience during your time at Southern Miss as a learning tool. A position in the nonprofit world offers the opportunity to do something different and exciting everyday. It also offers the opportunity to make a substantial difference in the world around you, but it is not easy. You will need all of the skills you pick up along the way to be flexible and successful.
Who is your role model? Personal: Father; Professional: Kimberly Nastasi
Tell us about your family. I am an only child of two loving Parents: Jerry and Ursula Jones. I am single and no children of my own.
Other thoughts/comments/advice high points in your life to include? Southern Miss to the Top!