Interest in the sector is growing as people want to make a difference in the world and want more from their jobs than just a salary. Friends from university are now frequently asking me about the sector to the extent that I am beginning to feel like a careers advisor!
In many ways, it’s easier to learn about the charity sector compared to others, because you can easily volunteer in charities to build up your understanding, knowledge and experience. Charities are always looking for people with skills and time. You could also consider joining the Board of a charity -and I set up an organisation called ‘Young Charity Trustees’ to encourage young people to do this.
A great way into the sector is the Charityworks programme for which I am a mentor. It’s very competitive to get onto, but well worth it.
A good way to start developing an overview of the sector is to follow some of the people who are engaged in it on social media such as the top 30 Chief Executives. Try as best you can to build up your contacts in the sector and go to as many networking events as possible. I have included some tips on my blog here.
Building an idea of what sort of job you would like is a good basis to have in order to begin your job search. Consider if there is anything you would like to specialize in or whether you would ideally like to work in a big or small charity? For more information about working for small charities, I have explained a bit more in my video. In small charities you typically have more autonomy, have a high level of responsibility even in junior positions and therefore have the chance to develop a wider range of skills.
Big charities typically have the resources to provide you with more training, have more structured career progression, and give you more of a chance to hone specific skills.
We need a diverse range of people in the charity sector in order to have the biggest impact possible. You really can make a difference, affecting the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in this country and overseas whilst feeling that you are ‘putting something back’ into society. If you’re ambitious, the sky really is the limit!
Please think of getting involved in the charity sector – it is guaranteed to expand your mind and open your eyes.
Alex Swallow is the Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition, http://www.smallcharities.org.uk/, a charity which supports other small charities. He is also the Founder of Young Charity Trustees, a Trustee for the Islington charity Centre 404, a mentor for the Charityworks Programme and a charity blogger. He has a particular interest in Charity Governance and in social media for social good. He runs a charity careers group on LinkedIn. Prior to working in the sector, Alex was a private tutor, political intern and taught for two years in Japan.