When I made the decision to change my career to the nonprofit sector I was excited and a bit intimidated. I was excited because I knew I was ready for a change. After doing a thorough job of soul searching along with some skills testing and matching, I came to a sound conclusion. I was ready and eager to use my professional skills – a combination of financial, marketing and sales – to fundraise for a nonprofit.
Intimidated may sound like a strange word since I made this change very intentionally. Here’s why it applies: I was fortunate that nonprofits saw my resume and were interested in interviewing me. I went on these interviews and met founders of nonprofits as well as board and staff members of charities that were engaged in truly changing the world. All I knew was that I was ready, willing and able to help them raise money to fund their missions. I felt good about my desire to serve but uncomfortable that I too didn’t have a very specific and directed passion…yet.
In hindsight, I see that this was OK – and not even unusual. Once I secured my first role, it led me to a journey of discovery for those causes I was passionate about. Ultimately, this process was a funnel that allowed me to explore many aspects of nonprofit work including the issues, types of charities and opportunities to serve. Nevertheless, it can be challenging to get your first job with little or no nonprofit background. Here are three suggestions for obtaining that valuable experience. (spoiler alert: these probably won’t be shockers; it’s just that they work!)
While this list is far from complete, if you’re not sure where you might be a fit, trying one or several of these should give you a head start. And remember, it’s OK not to know! You don’t have to rush a decision and there’s a lot of good you can do while enjoying the journey.
Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com
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