At the University of Pennsylvania, fall semester is On-Campus Recruiting season. Wharton students and Economics majors clamor for spots in JP Morgan’s and Bain & Company’s interviewing slots. Competition can be cutthroat. Students have been preparing for months and sculpting their resumes for years. By the time the semester is over, most of these students have a job at some kind of financial or consulting firm, big or small, prestigious or minor.
Then there are the Liberal Arts majors – the Shakespeare experts, the Modern Art connoisseurs, the television enthusiasts. I fit somewhere in the Humanities clan and I’m looking forward to my graduation in four weeks without a second round review. I am an English Major who has changed my career focus about twelve times. A writing enthusiast, I always dreamed of a career in journalism, public relations, television, or publishing. In my second semester of senior year, I suddenly decided that I passionately wanted to pursue education policy at a non profit. But I was confused, very confused. There were no jobs in policy on Penn Link, the university’s recruiting site, and there were few Penn alumni in the field. So how did I begin my non profit career search?
First, I identified the cities where I would be willing to live. This was not an easy task, but I finally decided that I was going to move back to New York where my family lives. Next, I made a list of about fifteen to twenty non-profit organizations in New York that fit my interests. I generated this list from the career services sites for several graduate schools of education. I then went to each organization’s website and recorded the e-mail of one contact person – someone high enough to have influence but not the president of the company. In late February, I sent polite e-mails to these contacts explaining that I was a senior in college and that I was interested in learning more about their organization. Not everybody was willing to speak to me, but those who were proved to be very helpful. They shared their past experiences, information about their jobs and organizations, and possible job openings. Some even offered to directly forward my resume, if there was an open position. I found the talks especially valuable because I was able to get tons of advice about entering the field.
In March, I began to apply to jobs. I searched on the organizations’ websites for job postings and also consulted several job sites. One of the best job sites for non-profits is idealist.org. It lists jobs over 60,000 non-profit and community organizations both national and international. And best of all, it’s free! Other non profit sites include guidestar.org, nonprofitcareer.com, independentsector.org, nptimes.com, and opportunityknocks.org. Citylimits.org specifically lists New York City jobs. If you’re looking for policy jobs check out policyjobs.net, but be prepared to pay a fee for some listings. I check each site weekly for openings, along with major job banks like monster.com and careerbuilder.com, where I have created profiles. I also routinely check the New York Times job market site.
The best piece of advice in your non-profit search: be patient and don’t get frustrated! It’s what I tell myself everyday. Stay passionate and enthusiastic about the non-profits’ missions. It is admirable that you want to work for an organization that benefits the public. Good luck with your job search!