Monday, August 27, 2012

11 Reasons New Grads Should Pursue Nonprofit Careers

A career path many overlook

All over the country, a couple million young people are graduating from college, including my little sister, Joelle! This weekend, she graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. I’m so proud of her, I can hardly stand it. It’s been an amazing celebration weekend with all of our family in town from Ohio, Georgia and Virginia. But after all the partying and congrats we did as a family, our first question to Joelle was, “So when are you gonna get a job?” She’s in the market looking for her first “real” job right now just like everyone else her age. Fortunately, her career field of nursing provides a very clear avenue for what to do next after school. After you graduate with a BSN, you take your certification test, then you go to work at a hospital or clinic. Even better is that in Washington, DC, the starting salary for nurses comes out to about $27 an hour. So new nurses have a pretty linear career path and a good chance that they will earn a good salary.

But what about those that don’t?

What about young people like me who came out of college with a degree in English and no idea what to do with it? Those new grads should definitely consider the nonprofit sector as a career choice for a number of reasons.

Nonprofit Doesn’t Mean “No Money”
Many young people get turned off from the idea of working in the nonprofit sector because they think the term “nonprofit” means that they won’t get paid. While most nonprofits aren’t ever going to be able to pay you six-figures, many positions command a very competitive salary, especially in large organizations. So if you’re that English major like me and you’re good at technical writing and you learn how to write a grant proposal, you could be on track to earn quite a bit more than you thought. Higher paying jobs in nonprofits include: fundraising, marketing & communications, finance and policy.

Nonprofits Are Still Hiring
There are many bright spots for young workers who wish to pursue a career in social change. The Bridgespan Group’s 2009 report, Finding Leaders for America’s Nonprofits showed that nonprofits were still hiring in this economic downturn. According to the Bridgespan Group:

"In the next 12 months, 28 percent of nonprofit organizations with revenues of $1 million and above plan to make one or more senior management hires, translating to 24,000 vacancies in 2009. Those projected vacancies are largely the result of retirement, since much of the existing leadership is comprised of boomers. Vacancies also stem from new roles being created due to an increase in organizational complexity based on growth in prior years."

According to Bridgespan, the need for new nonprofit leaders is especially strong in two areas: human services and arts organizations.

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