If you’re reading this, you probably already know what attracts you to the nonprofit sector – the chance to make a difference in your community, the chance to learn on the job, the chance to work with really passionate people…and the list goes on. But how do you get from simply wanting a nonprofit job or internship to actually getting one? Here are five tips to get you started on the right path:
- Networking. Yes, networking. According to What Color is Your Parachute, the number one way employers prefer to choose candidates is through referrals from one of their current employees. That means effective networking could be your golden ticket. We recently shared some networking tips, but a good place to start is with your family and friends. Does your cousin’s girlfriend work for a nonprofit? Reach out and ask for an introduction to learn more about what she does and ask for advice. If you are in college or a recent graduate, don’t neglect the professors and fellow students you met. Use LinkedIn to stay in touch. More on that below.
- Use your Career Center. While you’re staying in touch and asking for recommendations from your favorite professors, don’t forget about your Career Center. Whether you’re a current student or a proud alumnus, chances are high that you have free career counseling at your fingertips. Sign up to receive job alerts from your University job board. Set an appointment to get your resume reviewed. Career counselors often have a lot of knowledge about specific industries – including the nonprofit sector – and they may help you make valuable connections.
- Volunteer. If there is a specific nonprofit you are interested in interning at, but they don’t have any positions posted, don’t be afraid to reach out to a leader from that organization to learn more about volunteer opportunities. Volunteering is a way to gain valuable experience you can add to your resume, and if your goal is to land a paid gig in a nonprofit someday, volunteer experience is essential. Check out HandsOn Greater Richmond for a variety of opportunities.
- Create a Professional Online Presence. You might think employers aren’t paying attention to your Instagram photos, but they might be. Here are some steps you should take to make sure you are showing off your best self: a) Log out of all of your social media accounts, b) Look at how your profile(s) show up to the public, and make sure nothing inappropriate appears, c) Create a LinkedIn profile if you don’t already have one. LinkedIn has lots of great tips on how to build a great profile and profile photo.
5. Attend a Career Fair. Save the date for the Regional Nonprofit and Social Services Career Fair on Wednesday, February 17th, which will feature nonprofit and civic organizations from across the Richmond area. The event is free and open to the public, and internship and jobs are geared toward students and entry-level candidates.
Here are ways ConnectVA can help you as a job seeker:
- The Job Finder. You can filter listings to search for internships, full-time, part-time, temporary, or freelance opportunities. Register for an account to get a daily digest of new postings.
- Search our Event Calendar for professional training opportunities, young professional events, or webinars to network with people in the field and add to your knowledge.
- Check out the Community Discussions forums and the ConnectVA blog to stay up to date with the latest nonprofit news and trends.
- Join YNPN RVA, a movement activating young and early career nonprofit professionals through professional development, networking, and social opportunities. Stay tuned for upcoming events!