The road not taken?

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on December 18th, 2008 in Articles, Thoughts & Commentary

1 comment

CrossroadsFor the record, this will be the last blog post for 2008.  The Nonprofit Center and I are taking a  two week vacation to relax, re-energize, and come back afresh.    Rather than end the year being all philosophical and pollyannaish, I thought I’d try being practical and positive.  The hard reality is that many people are going to be looking for jobs in the new year.  (And why, when the economy is  already running roughshod over us, do we have to have scoundrels like Bernard Madoff exacerbating things?  But I digress.)  As I’ve often pontificated, the nonprofit sector, regardless of what you’ve done to date, is a great place to find future employment. So, a few suggestions.    

  1. First and foremost, figure out where your passions lie, and pursue them.
  2.  For both those moving within the sector and those looking to move into the sector, get involved in the sector.  Volunteer!  I don’t care how much volunteering you’ve already done, do more.  Volunteer in organizations with different kinds of missions, organizations that reflect different parts of the nonprofit sector.  The more connections you have within and across the sector, the better off you will be.  And don’t be scornful of the tasks you might be asked to do:  stuff envelopes, serve food, clean out cages, play games with residents, answer phones.  Just rub elbows with staff and, potentially, board members.
  3. Think more responsibility:  join the board.  Yes, you are still technically a volunteer, but as a board member, you are a volunteer with a legal, fiduciary and moral responsibility for the organization.  Now, you will definitely be rubbing elbows with board members.  And generally, board members have connections to other boards of nonprofits and other nonprofits.  So, now you’ve expanded your network multiple-fold.
  4. Do not be shy about letting people know you are looking for a job in the nonprofit sector.  Do not hesitate to be a sponge and soak up all there is to learn about a particular nonprofit and the sector in general.
  5. Craft your resume for the job you want to have, not the job you had.  For those of you crossing over from the for-profit side, translate your skills and talents developed in the corporate world into the tasks and responsibilities of the nonprofit world.
  6. Finally, for those of you coming from the for-profit world, stop, look and listen before you presume that the corporate way is the “best” or “right” way.  There are actually a number of things that the nonprofit sector does really well, while there are some things that it does poorly.  So, bring selectively from the for-profit world and be open to accepting, again selectively, from the nonprofit world. 

 While I wish all of those job seeking the best of luck, look at the task that is ahead of you as an adventure that will reap rewards.  At best, you will find a fulfilling and rewarding job.  At worst, you will “only” expand your network, horizon and yourself.  Sounds like a win-win.





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