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Career Choices for the Community-Minded

Career Choices for Nonprofit Professionals

It’s easy to consider working for a large corporation. Pay and benefits are often above average and sometimes there’s cachet in having a certain company’s name on your resume. But maybe you want a job for which you feel an emotional bond, with a mission that you can support. You want to make a difference on day one, not only in the job, but also in the community. Consider nonprofits.

Simply speaking, nonprofit organizations take surplus revenues and plow them back into the “business,” instead of distributing them to shareholders or employees. Typically, they have an educational or philanthropic bent. What’s important for job seekers is that the nonprofit sector is expanding and from 2007-2017, job growth has outpaced the for-profit sector.

Not surprisingly, the Northeast is a hotbed for these jobs. In New Hampshire, about 1 in 7 people are employed by a nonprofit organization. In nearby New York and Rhode Island, that ratio leaps to almost 1 in 5. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

While most nonprofit jobs are in healthcare, there are many jobs available in education, social services, and the Arts, including museums and performing arts centers. All it takes is a lot of passion, creativity, and of course, marketable skills. Talented individuals can find rapid upward mobility either within their own organization or by applying their earned knowledge at other nonprofits. Finding these jobs is easy. Websites in each state aggregate openings, acting as clearing houses for opportunities, such as the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits or Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, simplifying your job search.

If this sounds irresistible to you, consider the advice of Vicki Hebert (’16) who has worked at several New Hampshire nonprofits. “You can immediately sense when someone is passionate about a cause. A lot of nonprofits are social service agencies, so the ability to work with people and be of service is really important,” said Hebert. Creative thinking is vital in the nonprofit sector, “As a nonprofit leader, you need to come up with new ways to address a problem and recognize that doing the same thing over and over isn't always going to produce different results.”

But how do you maintain a long-term career? “Do not underestimate the value of networking with peer learners, faculty, and professionals in your field,” said Kelly Clark, regional vice president of AARP, and a Granite State College faculty member. “It is important to leverage these connections as a student and take advantage of opportunities to connect with professionals in the workplace.”

If you are thinking about a career in the nonprofit sector, consider Hebert’s advice. “Find an organization with a mission that you're passionate about, and volunteer for them. If you find this kind of work appealing, look at Granite State College and develop the sort of knowledge base that you need for the sector. Nonprofits are looking for everything from grant writers to budget and volunteer managers, and more.”