Students often think of the nonprofit sector as being a professional volunteer, and today we’re going to dispel that myth and highlight the industry’s vast opportunities. Nonprofit organizations come into play when a particular social goal is left unattended by business and government, and when enough people band together for the purpose of generating resources. These organizations do in fact turn a profit, but it’s directly pointed towards the attainment of a social goal rather than private gain.
This industry is huge and offers almost any type of functional role in areas of communications/marketing, volunteer management, program management, accounting, finance, fundraising/development, community outreach, and so much more. No matter what your skill set and education is, there’s a place for you in the nonprofit world—but what’s essentially different about this sector is also being driven towards the mission of the organization. It’s necessary to understand and be committed to the particular cause that an organization is working towards.
The best way to get your foot in the door and gain experience is to start as a volunteer. While this may not be labeled as an “internship,” this experiential opportunity is great hands on experience that will also give you knowledge on how a nonprofit organization operates. The Center for Civic Engagement can help you connect with opportunities to engage in the Richmond community. Nonprofits do offer internship programs for students, and there are many that may not have a formal program but are open to hosting a student intern if you’re able to contact them and create your own opportunity.
When it comes to seeking nonprofit opportunities, the industry is so large that there is no set recruiting season or timeline. Most full-time positions are for immediate hire and open when there’s a vacancy to fill. While this can be frustrating when conducting a job search, it’s important to make connections and network leading up to your search even before you’re applying for positions. This will help you to learn more about the organizations you’re interested in and make contacts that can keep you updated on current openings.
The following resources are essential for those interested in the nonprofit sector:
Idealist.org is a global nonprofit hub where you can search for volunteer opportunities, internships, jobs, and organizations. In addition, they have several different blogs you can follow to learn about nonprofit career advice and more.
ConnectVA is a great resource for both Richmond and Virginia overall. You can find volunteer opportunities, internships, jobs, and more local information.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy is the No.1 news source for nonprofit leaders, fund raisers, grant makers, and others involved in philanthropic enterprise. In addition to news you can also access resources and job opportunities.
The NonProfit Times is the leading business publication for nonprofit management that’s geared to executives. This source delivers news, business information and original research on the daily operation of tax-exempt organizations.