Since I do not have much experience with the nonprofit side of careers, when I volunteered to write this blog post I truly had no idea where to begin. But after doing some extensive research (approximately ten minutes conducting Google searches) I discovered that not only are these jobs interesting and attainable, but they can also be incredibly worthwhile.

Joanne Fritz, a freelance writer for About.com wrote a delightful article on the subject entitled How to Find Your Dream Nonprofit Job. She breaks the process down into seven easy steps, which I have helpfully further condensed into the following three:

  1. Choose a cause you are passionate about. You will be much more attractive to companies who share your values, commitment and enthusiasm for a particular movement. Another perk to narrowing this down is a higher likelihood for job satisfaction (once you nail that interview of course). The more committed you are to the cause, the more you will enjoy helping achieve the organization’s goals.
  2. Research nonprofit organizations that support the movement/cause you are interested. A fantastic place to start would be the companies that are attending our upcoming Nonprofit & Volunteering Expo. You will not only be able to talk to these people face-to-face, but these organizations are interested in OSU Beavers. This means you already have an edge over the competition!
  3. Volunteer! While this is always a great resume booster, it is particularly important when trying to impress those nonprofits. The majority of their people power is generated through willing and committed volunteers. One of Fritz’s particularly brilliant pieces of advice was the option of creating your own internship. Though this may sound intimidating, this can easily be accomplished through contacting nonprofit organizations and offering your time/talents.  Even though you will probably not be paid, this will be a HUGE resume-builder and offer incredible insight into your favorite nonprofit.

Now that you’re feeling motivated and ready to tackle that Nonprofit Expo, I’ll conclude with a helpful to-do list that’ll ensure you impress those visiting employers:

  • Polish up that resume! We, the career assistants, love fixing these bad boys up. Bring them to our drop in hours (1-4pm in the Career Services office in the basement of Kerr) so we can help you stand out (in a good way). If you’re more the independent type, remember to include a powerful objective that details what kind of organization you are interested in and why –as this will help you entice nonprofit employers to call you back for an interview.
  • Research the companies you are most interested in. You have no idea how much this will excite the recruiters at the expo. Just think of how depressed you would be if most of the students at your booth only came for the free pens. Trust me, prove you’re serious about their organization and they’ll be putty in your hands.
  • Prepare a 30-second introduction. Yes it sounds silly, but when you’re nervous and unsure of how to approach the employers you’ll be glad you did it anyway. Include (at the very least) your name, major, and what you are looking for in a nonprofit. It should closely align with the objective on your resume.
  • DRESS AND LOOK PROFESSIONAL! As I was in charge of reviewing the results of our last Career Fair survey –I honestly can tell you that over 200 students felt they were underdressed and therefore poorly represented to the recruiters at the last fair. Don’t let this be you! Studies have shown that about 60% of your first impression is going to be made based on your appearance. So nothing else, dress appropriately. What does this entail? For the Nonprofit Expo, business casual (khakis, button-up shirt or blouse, etc.) should be sufficient. Always error on the side of conservatively dressed when it comes to the job search.
  • Follow up with the recruiters you connected with. Remember to ask for the employer’s business card or the best way to contact them. This way you can follow up and send them a thank you note (which goes a long way toward creating that positive, lasting impression you’re going for).

Resource: Fritz, J. How to Find Your Dream Nonprofit Job. http://nonprofit.about.com/od/nonprofitwork/tp/gettingjob.htm

Posted by Leah Anderson, Career Services Assistant

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One thought on “Tips to Getting a Job at a Nonprofit Organization

  1. I think the best way to get involved with a non-profit and see if it is something you want to do full time is tovolunteerwith one! I did this and I have been involved with one for the past several years and it has been quite rewarding!

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