On November 6th, speakers from three very different non-profit organizations addressed an audience of Kings students in a basement lecture hall on the Strand campus. Ark Schools are an education charity, Charity Works provide a 12 month structured graduate scheme for graduates who want to work in charities, and Restless Development involve young people in addressing urgent social issues.
Our speakers emphasised how the people who work in this sector are a far cry from the stereotypical image of sandal clad, corduroy wearing neo-hippies. Today’s idealist looks, talks, and works just like any other white collar professional. They are project managers, marketers, networkers and influencers. The one thing they do have in common with the stereotype, is that through their work, they want to contribute to positive change.
We also discussed the variety of career types in this sector, which broadly reflect those in the private sector:
- For those who enjoy meeting targets, and influencing people, consider fund-raising
- Those who enjoy numbers, detail, and structure, could consider the finance department, as well as fund-raising
- HR roles come in different shapes and sizes eg recruiting, compensation & benefits, training & development
- PR/communications for those with an influencing/marketing bent
- Those with subject matter expertise might want to work in a campaigns or project management role
Working for a non-profit can help you to develop skills in any of these areas. Because many are small organizations, staff may have to dip into more than one function, which is a great way to develop a range of skills very quickly. These skills are transferable across sectors.
It is also important to consider your well-being, if the work involves coming into contact with people in distressing situations. Some roles can cause psychological distress, and have coping mechanisms in place can be vital in order to avoid burnout.
You can read more about careers in non-profits on other posts here and here. If you want to know more about careers in international development, check out the Getting Into International Development blog.