Finding the right nonprofit for you
Take a look at small service organizations. Many local organizations need people to build homes for the needy.
It could be a result of Wall Street layoffs, the Obama administrations reinvigoration of national service or a combination of factors, but across the country, theres been an increase in interest in the non-profit sector.
We spoke to Amy Potthast, director of service and graduate education programs at Idealist.org, and asked her for advice for those looking to break into the non-profit world.
The first thing, she said, was to start noticing the nonprofits all around you the hospitals, museums, schools, etc.
But, she said, advice differs greatly based on where you are in your career.
Do your research. Research the nonprofit sector as a whole, Potthast said. She recommended checking out Idealist.orgs Guide to Non-Profit Careers, which gives advice for both career-changers and first-time job seekers.Become familiar with the sector and language. Do informational interviews and listen to the words they use to describe the work, she said. Its important to know that. Youre going to sound like an outsider with business lingo.
Match your skill set with the right association. Once you know how to fit into the sector, you can continue to research the associations that are appropriate for you and your skill set, Potthast said. If youre in accounting and marketing, we have the same jobs in the nonprofit world.
Play up your ability to multi-task. If youve gained experience in lots of things throughout your career, Potthast suggests playing that up, because a lot of times people wear many hats at small nonprofits.
Show commitment to the issue. Another thing thats going to set you apart is proof that youre committed to the issue. Having a volunteer track record is a really good idea. That should be on your resume, she said.
FIRST-TIME JOB SEEKERS
Do a year or two of national or international service. This is my first absolute piece of advice, she said, pointing to Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. Note that it takes about 18 months from the point of application to ship out for the PeaceCorps.
Look for lesser-known service options. The problem is a lot of the larger organizations (especially Teach for America) are overwhelmed with applicants, Potthast said. But there are plenty of lesser-known options. Digging a little deeper is good. There can be a mom and pop AmeriCorp in your neighborhood. Theres even a program in India called IndiCorps, thats for people of Indian descent. There are so many options.
Through one of the corps youre usually getting paid a basic stipend.
The nonprofit sector certainly has not gone by unscathed by the current economic meltdown, but Potthast ensures that theres hope on the horizon.
The veil is being lifted a little bit, she said. The organizations that are hiring are doing so cautiously, but theres no more of a risk in working at non-profits.
The main thing is to really do your homework, Potthast said. Also, making your resume is as relevant as possible. Those are the key points
Plus, she added, They want to make sure youre going to get along with them. Showing your personality and being real in the interview is really important.
Good Web sites:
Cuso-Vso.org (Canadian, but they take American citizens and place them abroad)
Atlascorps.org (take Americans abroad and brings foreigners to the U.S.)