How to Get Your First Graduate Job in Non-Profit
So, you’ve just graduated from college. You’re wide-eyed and enthusiastic about all the career possibilities ahead, but the time passes quickly and your grad cap is already collecting dust in the corner. You know what you want, but you’re not sure where to start. Unlike your peers, you don’t fancy the idea of working for a paycheck in a huge Fortune 500 corporation. You want to give back to the community and do something meaningful for the world.
The problem? Getting into the non-profit sector seems daunting. You don’t know much about the sector aside from the fact that you want to be making a difference. And the last thing you want is to move back with your parents
Fear not – you’ve just found the best resource for breaking into the non-profit world straight out of uni. Here are a few handy tricks to help you land your first job in non-profit.
1. Get involved in the charity community
You probably think that networking is a bit of a dirty word. How can you start a conversation with non-profit professionals without any experience in the sector? The truth is people who work in non-profit love what they do and are happy to help others who want to get involved. If you have questions about a specific role or a specific charity, chances are someone will be willing to provide you with a bit of insight. You can even find a mentor to help guide you through the application process and provide you with useful advice about which organisations may be right for you. It’s the best way to learn more about the industry.
But why is learning more about the industry so important? Because the non-profit sector consists of more than just charities.
- Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
- Community interest companies
- Social enterprises
- Voluntary groups and more
So, talk to people and figure out the area you want to work in before applying for a job. A great resource for this is CharityConnect, which is CharityJob’s online community for UK charity professionals. Here, you can meet people who work in the sector, ask questions and even find out about events.
If you want to go out and meet other professionals face-to-face, you can find events through websites like Meetup which throws events for people with similar interests. Eventbrite is also a great resource for finding charity networking nights.
No doubt the non-profit world is small, but there are a lot of people in it willing to offer a helping hand.
2. Donate your time to a cause
So you’ve taken that first step and made contact with people in the charity community. You’ve ventured out and figured out what causes and organisations sound appealing to you. But there’s something you lack if you want to land a non-profit gig – experience.
Most non-profits recruit the same way for-profit businesses do. They post job ads, call people in for interviews and evaluate a candidate’s skills and suitability before welcoming them to their team. But the key difference is that charities look for candidates who can demonstrate that they’ve invested the time to really get involved in a cause that means something to them.
So how do you get the experience needed to break into the sector? Simple. Become a volunteer. Maybe you’re passionate about animal welfare and want to work for an animal charity. You can devote some of your free time helping at a local animal shelter.
And the best part? It means you’ll be the first in line to get a full-time job at a nonprofit when coming up against candidates with no experience. The truth is, many charity recruiters turn to their volunteer network before even posting a job.
Volunteering experience on a CV shows you’re an engaged member of society committed to a cause. It allows hiring managers to get a better idea of what interest you and it even allows you the chance to see what working for a charity will really be like.
Take a look at what volunteering opportunities are available today.
How to find your first job in non-profit
Surely, this is the difficult part, right? Well, it’s easier than you may think. In fact, most job types in non-profit aren’t that much different than jobs in the corporate world – it’s just the environment that’s different. That means skills like business development, finance, marketing and PR are highly sought after. You just need to be able to utilise these skills in the context of social good.
First, pinpoint what transferable skills you have and where your interests are. Are you a people person who loves working directly with the public? Then fundraising may be the right route for you. Or maybe you’re an amazing writer with a keen sense of what types of content influence people. Then you may be better suited for marketing.
Once you know what you’re looking for, it really just comes down to you taking the time to explore what non-profit jobs are available and pick the right organisations for you.
Ultimately, jumping from university to the non-profit space is less overwhelming than you think. All it takes is figuring out your passion and getting hands-on experience. If you manage to tick those two boxes, you’ll get a faster chance to make the world a better place.
Need a bit of help with your CV and cover letter? Download our free non-profit templates today.