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  • Interviewing for DE position....what should I expect?

    I am in the process of interviewing for a DE position in a very good (perhaps the best, at least as far as awards go) council in the US. I have researched the job about as much as I can on my own and read through many reviews of what other DEs (current and former) have had to say about the job. Realistically, though, I know many of the people who take the time to post such information on the internet do so based on a negative experience and, largely, that's the type of review I have seen for the position thus far.

    I'm hoping to get some real-world thoughts on the job and a better idea of "a day in the life". My first interview went great and the job seems like a good fit, at least based on what I know of it thus far. The only real concern that I have seen raised is where work/life balance come into play. I am married with children and so this aspect is important to me. I understand the need to be flexible for some night and weekend meetings and events......but how much are we really looking at and during what parts of the year? During slower seasons, what does the day consist of?

    Of note, I am not one who is looking to advance to national or anything of that nature. If I take this position, I fully expect to stay with it and remain within my area (the same area where my wife and I were born and raised and are very much rooted). I have seen many volunteers complain of their DE's lack of interest in what they were doing and only being focused on moving up; thus, my situation and intent is a bit of a departure from that....and I think it's most likely a good thing.

    Before I leave a good job to do this, I just want to know what I'm looking at....preferably from those who are there now or have been there recently. I do know that our DEs do the "boy talks" and also man the sign-up nights. I know of some other aspects regarding networking and such, but I'm figuring there has to be a good bit more to the day. Obviously, boy talks can't be the only thing going on year round. What other meetings and tasks (specifically) are involved?

    Any information will be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    Originally posted by ProScout View Post
    ... I'm hoping to get some real-world thoughts on the job and a better idea of "a day in the life". My first interview went great and the job seems like a good fit, at least based on what I know of it thus far. The only real concern that I have seen raised is where work/life balance come into play. I am married with children and so this aspect is important to me. I understand the need to be flexible for some night and weekend meetings and events......but how much are we really looking at and during what parts of the year? During slower seasons, what does the day consist of? ... !
    Some nights? Our DE's are at every roundtable, at training weekends, commissioner events, council and sometimes area meetings. Look at your council's calendar (not just your district) and ask how many of those you are expected to attend, then ask how many things aren't on the calendar that you have to be prepared to attend. Ask how things are divided. Far as I can tell, the successful DE has a family who loves scouting. A DE is like the goalie in soccer: you have to be a special kinda crazy to stand in front of the box where everybody's kicking!

    Comment


    • #3
      Remember, first of all, it is not a service providing job, the volunteers provide the services of BSA. Instead, it is a salesperson job, you are to promote BSA and expand it in your communities.

      For those who think it's both, take it from someone who served as an assistant DE, it simply isn't the case.

      Stosh

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by qwazse View Post
        Some nights? Our DE's are at every roundtable, at training weekends, commissioner events, council and sometimes area meetings. Look at your council's calendar (not just your district) and ask how many of those you are expected to attend, then ask how many things aren't on the calendar that you have to be prepared to attend.
        Sounds like a good start. I was told in the initial interview that weekends (for an example) would only be 3 to maybe 5 per year (Camporees and such)....and even those are split between this position and one other. I get the idea that I can pretty much expect (at least during high seasons) about two nights a week. For the record, the job description literally reads "some night and weekend availability for meetings". Again, this is a very well-run council based on both growth and awards and I know there can be variance from one to another.

        Throw me some more Qs. I have a second meeting with the Field Director next week and also have to take the personality test then. Any suggestions on questions that will lead to a realistic idea of this job in my district/council are greatly appreciated!

        Comment


        • #5
          I know our DE mans cub camp all summer. He gets 24 hours off once a week. That would be very tough with a family, or any relationship for that matter. I have been told a DE needs to make his recruiting/fundraising goals or is out of there. Not easy with declining enrollment and a weak economy. One thing I always want to know is why the position is open.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by King Ding Dong View Post
            I know our DE mans cub camp all summer. He gets 24 hours off once a week. That would be very tough with a family, or any relationship for that matter. I have been told a DE needs to make his recruiting/fundraising goals or is out of there. Not easy with declining enrollment and a weak economy. One thing I always want to know is why the position is open.
            ​I get the idea the summer camps are not up to the DE in our district. I've been told summer (April or May through July) is actually the slow period for this job.

            As far as fundraising, how long do you have to make the goals? What control do you really have besides the boy talks? In other words, I can give a spiel to the kids, but what control do I have over meeting the goals if their parents won't enroll them? Our council is actually still growing unlike many around the country, but I don't want to find myself motivated to do my job well based on the constant fear of losing it. If that is the nature of the job, I'm not sure it's for me.

            The guy prior apparently wasn't performing particularly well, but I think the council got wind of him also looking around for other jobs (considering that they are well-connected to area businesses). The job has been open for several months to this point.

            Comment


            • qwazse
              qwazse commented
              Editing a comment
              Now, you are coming up with a list of questions that I would ask!

              The other question you should probably be asking is if your benchmarks will be based on total units or total membership, or membership based on Packs, Troops, Crews, or nontraditional units. For example, if your boss wants to boost the number of Venturing Crews in your district, that's a completely different animal from recruiting new boys to existing packs!

              Fundraising usually involves you contacting adult volunteers to help coordinate the Friends of Scouting Campaigns. From what I hear every council does it differently, and every district in our council does it a little differently. The question there is are those adults already in place, or is it on you to find them?

          • #7
            Just to get a feel of your perspective and the level of this question, what's your previous exposure to scouting?

            I think somewhere in the top two or three questions would be this....what kind of person is it that you will be reporting too?... or working with at council. I think the guy that supervises our DE's is very gruff and demanding, and runs the DE's off. For the most part, the unit leaders will be decent folks just trying to do good, but I'll be you'll run into some interesting personalities...... and maybe a few irrational parents along the way.

            I'm rolling into my 3rd year volunteering as a Unit leader at the Cub Scout level. From my limited perspective, the DE is a confused position. I've already seen one guy come and go, and a new one take his place. I say it's confused because form my perspective what the position wants or needs to be is very different it seems from what it is.

            In my opinion, the position WANTS to be:
            -a support role for the volunteer unit leaders, facilitating paperwork and other council issues
            -facilitator and trainer for the unit leaders
            -sort of an all around technical support contact and mentor for the unit leaders
            -facilitator or support for the various cuborees, day camps, and countless other Boy Scout level events that I know very little about

            What the position seems to be:
            -Sales director for the various distributorships in the territory, with enrolment being the sales goal and the units being the distributors or sales reps.
            -chief fundraiser, asking for donations


            I've seen our DEs at most every district round table meeting which for us is one Thursday night a month.
            They are, as you have mentioned, involved in the round up visit to our CO's school. I think this entail calls to the school to coordinate, then a short visit to the classrooms x the number of schools in your district
            They also seem to be somewhat heavily involved in the cub summer camp week, so 1 week during the summer
            ......and the cuboree weekend camp, one weekend a year
            They seem to show up at our B&G to give a sales pitch for some donation program.....and maybe sometimes one other pack meeting through the year, so 1 weekend day for a couple hours + maybe one week night evening for the pack meeting x the number of units in your district
            I've seen them at a couple of the district level training courses, so maybe 3-6 Saturday mornings a year if you were to go to all of them.
            and I really have no idea how involved they get with all of the boy scout level camps and activities......

            Comment


            • #8
              Good question, blw. As a child, I grew up in the area that I will be serving and participated in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts from about 6 or 7 years old until I was around 12. Of course, I did all of the normal things and participated in the programs and events offered through Scouting during that time. Since then, I have not had any involvement......we'll say over the last twenty years or so.

              As I see it, this is most definitely a sales/PR position first and foremost. It is not working with the kids or really being involved at the program execution level. I don't personally see any issues with the number of nights/weekend days that you outlined. All of that would be totally fine. I've just seen so many reviews of the position that make it sound as though you're lucky to be home two nights a week and if that were the case, it would be problematic. And then there's the issue of whether or not this is a high-pressure gig with the goals and such given that you really only have so much you can do to increase the numbers. If I hit every school and do the talks and still find the numbers not coming in, then I'm in the boat of worrying about losing my job (something I can't afford to do).

              I think there is a ton of potential for this job, especially after the first three years in terms of advancing within my own district or council (and again, I fully intend to remain in my area long-term which I think would prove most beneficial for the volunteers in our district and really growing good relationships with them).

              Comment


              • #9
                I'm not a DE, but having dealt with DEs and watched district operations, here's my .02:

                - Ask the field director what his (or her) goals are for you as a DE. Is it FOS, it is membership, district operations, something else? Have a discussion about that with the FD.
                - Ask what has worked in the past in regard to meeting those goals. For example, if it's membership, what has been done in that district in the past.
                For example, I never see our DE going to schools and doing boy talks - I can't imagine that happening here. If this is a really successful council, perhaps they already have units that know how to recruit. So, your role in supporting them will be quite different than your role in supporting a district with units that do not recruit.
                - Ask about additional expectations of the role. i.e., what extra meetings do you need to attend? When are staff meetings, how do they work?
                - Bring some of your own ideas to those goals & expectations. Again, if it's membership, be prepared with some thought out ideas of how you could add to what they do.
                Last edited by ParkMan; 10-23-2013, 09:12 AM. Reason: hit post too soon

                Comment


                • #10
                  I would want to know about the district committees. Are they fully staffed and functioning so that you can use their efforts? Or are they in a slump and dysfunctional with only a few close to burned out volunteers doing the work? What is the reputation of the professional scouts with the unit volunteers? Good luck.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Also keep in mind your collateral duties: committee assignments.

                    In addition to being staff advisor to the district operating committee, all district events, and the district OA chapter (if there is one), you may also be named staff advisor to to one or more council operating committees and or events.

                    One Senior DE I know not only has his district but also a religious relationships committee, special needs scouting, Explorer Police Academy, and now NYLT. While these committees are headed by volunteers, there may be need to recruit a chairman and/or members. You'll need to attend meetings, events, encourage committee members to donate to FOS, take training, fundraise for the committee, etc.

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      How is your poker face? Do you have any tells?

                      Can you lie to anyone and not carry any guilt?

                      Stealing,? Can you lose expense reports, fail to turn in apps and funds associated with them and not feel bad about it?

                      How do you feel about keeping your word? Is it optional or you spin a story to keep your ass out of hot water?

                      you need to identify affluent units and influential people very quickly in your district


                      Story telling, keep stringing people along with hope until your transferred out of your district to the new......hopefully the people you burned in the old district don't call the new one.

                      Comment


                      • ProScout
                        ProScout commented
                        Editing a comment
                        qwazse: I understand that the job is not just sales. However, I think you know as well as I do that my job would depend on numbers. That said, a big part of selling in this type of field would involve cultivating solid relationships with my volunteers and working with them and SUPPORTING them to "close" those deals. I obviously can't do it on my own. At the end of the day, they are the ones who are executing what I'm "selling" and maintaining a good relationship with them and keeping myself in their good graces helps me as much as anyone. Also, I think you have a fundamental misconception of what "PR" is. It isn't just maintaining relations with THE public....it's about maintaining relationships with MY public...and the volunteers are a major part of that group.

                        I did not mention the "co-ed talks" because I was not aware of them. It doesn't mean I have an issue with doing them or that I would exclude one program in favor of another (although much of that would be determined by need).

                        Ultimately, I get what you're saying. To be very clear, I have spent the last 12 years working in the hospitality field, primarily in event planning and management. If you've ever done that type of work, then you know that client relationship development is paramount. Approaching situations with humility is a necessity and working to find answers that you may not know (to ensure you're giving the correct information) is commonplace. Believe me when I say, I wouldn't undertake this with arrogance. The first step is to meet with my volunteers and listen to their concerns and their needs, then determine what is within my power to address and how to go about doing it appropriately. If it doesn't fall within my purview, then my goal is to run it up the ladder until I find whose it does. One way or the other, I will not leave my "clients" hanging. If I ever did that in my line of work now, I wouldn't have a job. I'm not the typical "fresh-out-of-school" college grad looking to show off and show up the people around me to move up. I'm looking for a stable career that will allow me to do good within my community....and that means giving the attention needed to those who are on the ground in that community.

                        I hope this helps a bit.
                        Last edited by ProScout; 10-25-2013, 09:46 PM.

                      • qwazse
                        qwazse commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Sounds like you have the right background, but you have a steep learning curve. Now, it may be that your council has an executive devoted to just to Venturing and Explorers. But it wouldn't hurt for you to read up on those programs. Find out how many of those units are in your council,. A good question to ask is if you'd be responsible for any of them.

                      • ProScout
                        ProScout commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Good points, qwazse. I will most definitely add those to my list of questions. I'm thinking I'm more likely to not get the offer just based on how inquisitive I will be in this next interview. It isn't often that the interviewee does a more thorough interview than the interviewer, but it's not a bad thing.

                    • #13
                      "If I take this position, I fully expect to stay with it and remain within my area"

                      It's my impression, and this was told to me straight-up when I interviewed for a DE position, is that the BSA discourages this. The idea is you spend a few years in one council, and then you'll be sent somewhere else. That may not be the case now, it's been about three or four years, but it was pretty clearly stated if I were to get the job that I would expect to move on somewhere else after a few years.

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        Originally posted by Bando View Post
                        "If I take this position, I fully expect to stay with it and remain within my area"

                        It's my impression, and this was told to me straight-up when I interviewed for a DE position, is that the BSA discourages this. The idea is you spend a few years in one council, and then you'll be sent somewhere else. That may not be the case now, it's been about three or four years, but it was pretty clearly stated if I were to get the job that I would expect to move on somewhere else after a few years.
                        ​I was concerned about this so it was one of my first questions. The Council CEO (whom I interviewed with) started out in our district over 30 years ago. He moved up north after a few years where he turned another council around and then ended up back here where he has remained for the last 27 years. He has been courted to go to other councils and do the same work he's done for ours, but has chosen not to. As he told me, very bluntly, they may make you some offers that you may choose to consider, but there is nothing that will make you have to leave if you choose not to. Our family is rooted here, so leaving is really out of the question, at least for the foreseeable future. BSA may WANT me to move, but as I was told, there's nothing they can do to make that happen.

                        Comment


                        • Bando
                          Bando commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Yes, they'll make you offers and you don't have to take them, but you also don't have to get promoted, either. The BSA has pretty structured career trajectory goals for DEs. If you pan out, you move up the ladder. No one stays a DE forever, and upward mobility (intentionally) will not happen in the same council. And, really, you don't want to stay a DE forever, no matter how altruistic your motives. You need to ask tougher questions on this one, methinks.

                        • ProScout
                          ProScout commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Fair assessment. I will ask, for sure. I think it will be good to get the opinions of these other two individuals on Monday and see how they compare to the first interviewer. I agree that it's unlikely I'd want to remain a DE forever, but I will say I'm not looking at this for the salary. It's a good salary to start out and isn't far off what I make now. We can live comfortably with it. My biggest issue is time. I have no problems devoting time to the job. I just want to ensure there is still time for the family as well (and that's where my biggest disconnect is based on what I'm reading).

                      • #15
                        Several of our DEs moved on to some decent careers after doing their jobs as pro scouters well. (By well, I'm talking about that integrity and grit thing.) I recall one getting a foreman's job in a factory, another got a job directing a development center for troubled kids, another became a sports store manager. The first two fellas had a stall in their careers, and the DE job came at a good time for them. The other one really needed to get a break from scouting for the sake of his wife (and dog), and the skills that he picked up as DE gave him the skills he needed to excel in the corporate world. So for the trouble, it seemed to do these guys a lot of good.

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