Last week, The New York Times published this article that talks about an unexpected consequence of the difficult economy: that more recent college graduates are working in the non-profit sector, or as they describe, “young college graduates who ended up doing good because the economy did them wrong.”
As a college student, I planned to work in a non-profit organization, and now as a career counselor I often talk with students interested in this field. I’m excited to hear about this trend. I see many students come in with a few misconceptions about work in nonprofits and wanted to address some of these in this post.
Myth #1: Only certain kinds of jobs exist in non-profits. It’s not for me.
Fact: All kinds of jobs exist in the non-profit sector! In non-profits, there are all the same jobs as in the private sector, plus a few that are specific to non-profits, such as fundraisers and grant-writers. Non-profit jobs provide great work experience as well as a connection to a particular issue or cause. Check out this fun video from Non-Profit Careers Month, celebrated in October 2009:
Myth #2: I won’t make any money in a non-profit.
Fact: Entry-level non-profit salaries are often comparable to jobs in the private sector. In general, because non-profits have fewer resources they may have fewer staff—meaning that as an entry-level employee you might have more responsibility than in an entry-level private sector job. Not only can you get great experience this way, but it makes you a strong candidate for future career opportunities, whether in the non-profit or for-profit sector.
Myth #3: Looking for a job in the non-profit sector is exactly the same as looking for a private-sector job.
Fact: While the process is similar, there are several significant differences—for example, the non-profit field has its own language to consider when writing cover letters (for instance, you apply for a job at an organization, not a company). Additionally, be prepared to talk about your passion and connection to the mission of the organization—it’s not just about being able to do the job, but also about a commitment to helping the organization fulfill its mission. Find ways to communicate your commitment and personal connections to the mission; sometimes doing this while remaining professional can be a challenge—our career counselors are happy to help you figure this out.
Considering going into the Non-Profit World of Work? Check out these web resources:
You might also be interested in this video, titled “How to Start Working in the Non-Profit Sector.” It features an interview with Kerry Connor, national recruitment director for Jumpstart, a national non-profit organization that focuses on early intervention for at-risk preschoolers.
We get lots of questions about how, and whether, to list campus activities and leadership on resumes. The answer is almost always, “it depends.” We’ve put together this brief online presentation to go through examples of some of the most common types of involvements we see.
The presentation below is called a Prezi; to navigate the presentation, click the forward arrow at the bottom of the presentation. You can zoom in or out on a particular section by clicking on the blue plus or minus buttons that appear on the right side when you bring the cursor to the right side. If you don’t see the presentation, try re-loading the page. We recommend viewing the presentation in full-screen mode; hover over the “More” button on the bottom right, and click “Fullscreen.”
To start the presentation, press the play button; to advance the presentation, keep pressing the arrows (or in fullscreen mode, you can advance by pressing the right arrow key).
If you’d like to see the sample resume included in this presentation in full, it’s available on our website. Here are some other resume resources:
Remember, if you’d like help working on your resume, check out our upcoming events including resume jumpstarts, make an appointment with a counselor or come to our drop-in counseling hours. See you soon!
How would you describe what you do on a typical day to someone who is unfamiliar with your field? Account executives at Nike are responsible for optimizing Nike product sales with a specific account base. Since I work directly with an account, developing and maintaining relationships with key personnel at all levels is critical. I also analyze weekly sales data to help in preparing and planning future seasons’ merchandising & product strategies.
What advice do you have for students searching for jobs or internships in your field? Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door and see if the company is a good match. Use this time to show management what value you can add to the team, but to also ensure it’s the right fit for you. I interned at Saks Fifth Avenue, and while the buying offices were not exactly right for me, it gave me visibility to aspects of the wholesale/retail industry that helped lead me to Nike.
What three words would describe your work environment? Energizing, Innovating, Connected
What motivates you to go to work every day for this organization? Nike motivates me to stay athletic, stay focused, work hard and play hard. We have a dynamic team of people in my office, it’s competitive, but it drives you to succeed.
Tell us about your path to this position. Did you expect to hold this job when you were a college student? I really didn’t know what I wanted to do after graduation. I started going through possible internship opportunities at the career center and just sending out my resume to any/all that sounded somewhat interesting to me. Within a month I was in NYC interviewing for the Saks Fifth Avenue Buying program. Now, 11 years later, I’m still here, and still in the retail industry. I feel extremely fortunate that my choices led me to Nike.
If you’re interested in seeing all our World of Work profiles, click here. If you are a UVM alumnus and would like to be featured, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in contacting a featured alum, check out the Career Connection alumni database or contact us.
Recently our Career Services team hosted our first interviews using Skype for DraftFCB Chicago. The interviews were a great success and allowed employers to meet students and alumni, just like you.
With an ever-increasing cost in travel time and expenses associated with in person interviews many employers have embraced interview methods, like Skype, that are more cost effective while maintaining the benefits of face-to-face interaction. Here are a few hints from our Career Services team to help you prepare!
Career Services Top 10 Tips
1. Dress for Success: This is a professional interview. It is important to be dressed professionally from head to toe just as you would for an in person interview. Though the employers will mostly see you from your chest up if you are sitting, you may need to stand up or get up from your computer.
2. Ready Your Material: Know your application materials well and keep a copy of your resume and cover letter handy so that you may refer to it if needed. Try not to read from your materials and keep as much eye-to-eye contact as possible. Your answers will be weighed and selection decisions will be made based on your answers as well as your online camera presence. It is a good idea to keep a notepad and writing utensil ready.
3. Do Your Research: Research the position and the organization before going to the interview and try to obtain a detailed job description. Use the Web ahead of time to research the company and read any printed materials available. Discuss the position with anyone you know who might have insights into the organization. This information will enable you to target your comments to the job and the organization and will demonstrate your interest. Your research will also help you formulate questions to ask the interviewer. Good questions display your thinking skills, your understanding of the position and your enthusiasm.
What do you know about this organization?
What contributions do you think you could make to this organization?
Why did you decide to seek this position with this organization?
4. Prepare Your Interview Space: Choose an area with a neutral background. Adjust the lighting in the room so that you are clearly visible to your employer. Be certain that the area you choose to interview in look professional and orderly.
5. Creating Your Professional Vibe: When you are creating your account come up with a professional screen name separate from the account you use when Skyping with friends. Try something such as your first and last name with some generic numbers instead of babycakes900. By creating a separate account name solely for interviewing you run into the possibility of your friends calling you during your interview.
6. Test Your Equipment: Schedule a time a day of two before the interview make sure your microphone picks up your voice clearly and that your camera has a clear image. Be certain that your internet connection is strong (for wireless users) or that you are plugged into a consistent internet source. Make sure that your battery is fully charged and plugged into an electrical socket to maintain full battery life so that your computer does not shut off during your interview. We recommend doing a test run with a friend to test everything out.
7. Eliminate Distractions: Any outside noise could potentially distract you during the interview. It is best to limit the possibility of these distractions as much as possible. Turn off your cell phone, the television, etc. Close your windows and if you have any pets, make sure they do not come into your interview space. It is also important to close ALL other programs that are unnecessary to your interview this includes IM, chat, Twitter, etc. Running a lot of programs on your computer can slow down processing speed and cause additional lag time during your interview.
8. Sign on Early: Sign onto your Skype interview ahead of time. If the hiring manager is already online, they will be impressed that you have shown up for the virtual interview early. If they sign on after you, they will see that you were ready and waiting.
9. Look into the Camera: Make sure you are familiar with where the camera is on your computer and look into it rather than directly at the screen. This will make it appear as though you are looking directly at the individual who is interviewing you – eye to eye contact – an important element selling point to any interview.
10. Visit Career Services! You can prepare for your interview with our friendly Career Services staff and visit our website at uvm.edu/career. You can come in for Drop in Hours 1:00-4:00 Monday through Thursday or you can schedule an appointment over the phone or in person to get ready for your future!