We’re glad to be able to open up this space to a guest blogger, Kailee Brickner-McDonald, a former practicum intern with Non-Profit Programs here at Career Services, for this Doing Good, Doing Well post. We are glad she was able to share this story of networking with us!
UVM’s Alternative Winter Break and Vermont Institute on the Caribbean–Partners since Career Services’ International Non-Profit Career Panel in 2009
In the spring of 2009, UVM Career Services hosted an International Non-Profit Career Panel. Similar to the networking panels offered this semester (link to calendar for those kinds of events), it brought together alumni and local employers in the non-profit field and students with all levels of interest.
Among the students who participated, Leondaro Badia, ’09, showed up. He shared how he was going to be interning with the Vermont Institute on the Caribbean (VIC) that summer. At the time, UVM Student Life’s Alternative Winter Break’s (AWB) leaders were looking for a new hosting community for their international service trip. Talking with Leondardo about his connection to VIC’s Baseball Exchange Program through a service-learning class, it seemed like a good match for AWB. Thanks to the connection, AWB started to work with VIC. In the winter of 2010 the 11 UVM students on the AWB trip helped with the Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Kids initiative and a park building project with 4th and 5th graders in Los Dominguez, a marginalized neighborhood in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. This year another 11 UVM students returned to the same school to lead workshops on girls’ self-esteem and leadership. AWB plans to continue the partnership with the community and organization into the future.
Check out this photo of the 2011 Alternative Winter Break group in the park that the 2010 group helped to build:
This fruitful connection at the International Non-Profit Career Panel demonstrates how “networking” is truly a community-building experience. Peer-to-peer student collaboration and information -sharing that night was just as important as the relationships which also began among employers, alumni, and students.
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.
Are you interested in creating a life with meaning while making a difference? You are in good company! Students in Global and Regional Studies 95 (Fall 2010) explored Right Livelihood, personal missions and putting their values into action on a daily basis. Here are some actions and resources that inspired them into living by their beliefs and convictions.
Right Livelihood is a Buddhist concept of earning a living in an ethical, values-based manner. In other words, using your values as a lens for making decisions about your work and actions in the world.
Putting that into play, GRS95 came up with principles of Right Livelihood at UVM :
LOVE: Combine Passion and Love – what matters most to you
POSITIVE: Offer contagious positivity
RESPECT: Create respectful relations with others and the earth
COMMITMENT Take a stand for something you believe in, leading by example
COMMUNITY: Prioritize community & face-to-face relationships
CHALLENGE: Accept the challenge of overcoming adversities, not letting fear get in your way
Out In The World
Living by our convictions has a ripple effect that spreads beyond our own lives. And sometimes we need to look beyond our doorstep for inspiration and camaraderie. Here are some connections from the world at large:
Life doesn’t begin once you graduate. Clarifying who you are, what matters to you and putting it into action each day is important. With so much information coming at us each day and so many demands on our time and attention, it is important to be thoughtful about where we put our energy. Developing a vision and taking action can assist you in navigating and creating a life you want to live. Here are some steps:
The title of this post is a quote from Sargent Shriver, the man who created the Peace Corps. Sargent Shriver, or “Sarge,” as he was known, was one of the most influential public servants of the second half of the last century. He founded, inspired, or directed numerous social programs including VISTA, Job Corps, Upward Bound, and Head Start. He served as the director of Special Olympics (which was created by his wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver), and he was a Vice Presidential candidate in 1972 for the Democratic Party nomination with presidential candidate Senator George McGovern.
While this is certainly an impressive list of accomplishments, every one started with an idea about how to fill a community need. It’s important to remember that each of these programs—which we might now think of as very large, and of course, successful—began with the recognition that each of those communities had a need. And that each program started as a creative solution to fill those needs. For example, the Peace Corps started with countries that wanted volunteers. For more on that, check out this 1960s talk show footage from a David Garroway program that features Sargent Shriver talking about the Peace Corps. I was especially struck by what Shriver says about how Peace Corps locations were chosen.
Some fun Peace Corps trivia: Sargent Shriver was very involved with the Peace Corps volunteers—so much so that at one point, there were 300 dogs belonging to Peace Corps Volunteers around the world named “Sarge.”
If you would like to learn more about Sargent Shriver’s life and the efforts to begin programs like the Peace Corps, VISTA, the War on Poverty and more, you might be interested in the documentary American Idealist, which aired on PBS in 2008. The DVD is available on campus from the resource library at Community-University Partnerships and Service-Learning.
There is also a website dedicated to the Sargent Shriver that includes more biographical information, speeches, and reflections from those who knew him. Seeing all that Sarge accomplished might seem intimidating for someone just starting in their career (or even if you have lots of experience!); you might be interested in reading this poem he wrote in 2002 called “I Am A Man.” You might also be interested in the Sargent Shriver Peace Institute.
As you consider your own career path, here are a few questions to think about:
-What needs have you seen in our community? What can you do to help address these needs?
-When thinking about your campus and community involvements, how might you continue these involvements as part of your career?
-How can you take your passions and turn them into a career?
UPDATE: UVM is among the top 25 schools in number of Peace Corps volunteers! 34 UVM alumni are currently serving as Peace Corps Volunteers, and since 1961, 783 UVM alums have been Peace Corps volunteers. For more, see this article.
As a college student, I did a lot of volunteering—and when talking with my advisor about the work I was doing in the community, she would ask, “Are you doing good?”
Having had proper grammar drilled into my head, I would respond, “yes, I’m doing well…” and continue telling her about my volunteer work. One day she clarified that what she really wanted to know was, are you Doing Good? Was my work helpful to the community? Was it meaningful? Was I proud of the work I was doing, and confident that my volunteer work was in line with my values?
Our new blog series, Doing Good, Doing Well, is for anyone interested in finding mission-driven work. Finding meaningful work that fits with your values doesn’t have to wait until you are further in your career—and this blog series is about finding that work now! Regularly, we will feature stories of people who put their values to work, tips for finding ‘Good’ job and internship opportunities, helpful links, resources for supporting your wellness by maintaining work/life balance, and inspiration for your career journey. Watch for our first post, about Sargent Shriver, who said,
“It is not what you get out of life that counts. It’s what you give and what is given from the heart.”
—Robert Sargent Shriver (1915-2011)
Thanks for reading and we hope you’re looking forward to this series as much as we are. Each post will include a discussion/reflection question; feel free to respond in the comments! What do you envision your first “real job” after graduation being like? What values would you want to be embodied in your work?