If you asked me my freshman year of college where I thought I would be in fifteen years — or even where I would be after graduation — I would not have said “working in the nonprofit sector.” But life often takes you in surprising directions.
My job has given me back as much — and more — as I’ve put into it. So to those college grads who are heading out into the world, allow me this piece of advice: think about taking a nonprofit job as your first job.
I know, it’s not the craziest idea you’ve ever heard. After all, research from Johns Hopkins University shows that, collectively, nonprofits are the nation’s third largest employer, behind only the retail and manufacturing sectors. Here’s my elevator pitch.
There’s plenty of room to grow. The best thing about working at a nonprofit organization is the relative lack of bureaucracy. It’s not that most nonprofit managers will let you take ownership of a project; in many cases, you’ll be expected to.
There’s no lack of opportunities to build marketable skills. When it comes to building marketable skills, new nonprofit employees often are surprised at how quickly they are thrown into the deep end of the pool — I’m talking about everything from writing and editing, to social media marketing, to budgeting, analytics, and project management.
There’s little chance of getting sidetracked. Working at a nonprofit is a good way to gain real-world experience while you are attending, or contemplating, grad school. One reason is that nonprofit employers tend to be more flexible than for-profits about part-time or non-traditional work schedules.
Whether it comes as a surprise or not, one day, like me, you might even wake up and realize the job you thought you would only have for a year or two is a job that you love and hope to have for years to come. 93 percent of survey respondents in the nonprofit sector — nearly three times the national average — saying they are highly or somewhat engaged in their jobs.
[Philanthropy News Digest]