Is Working for a Nonprofit Right for Your First Job? - dummies

Is Working for a Nonprofit Right for Your First Job?

By Roberto Angulo

Nonprofits are another way to go when considering where to look for your first job. Teach for America and the Peace Corps are examples of great organizations where you can make a positive impact while also gaining experience. Nonprofits abound, and they include large organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which works to improve healthcare and to eliminate extreme poverty. They also include smaller regional trade associations such as the Northern California HR Association, which works to advance the human resources profession. Here are some of the factors to consider when looking at nonprofits:

  • Social impact: Nonprofits are usually mission driven. If you’re passionate about a certain issue such as climate change, education, or healthcare, a nonprofit can give you the ability to apply your skills and energy to a worthy cause.
  • Prestige: Working at organizations like the Peace Corps gives you valuable experience that you can list on your résumé. Employers look highly on candidates who’ve done assignments at these types of organizations. It shows that you’re mission driven and that you’re not afraid of hard work.
  • Hands-on training: Organizations like the Peace Corps and Teach for America offer intense training. But afterward, you’re mostly on your own. Working at nonprofits such as these gives you the opportunity to learn while doing the work.
  • Less support: Not all nonprofits have the support structures in place to help you do your job. In fact, most of them typically look for people with experience or some specific skill set so they can start contributing to the organization soon after they join. Be aware that if you’re joining a nonprofit, you’ll need to take the lead on your own professional development.
  • Less pay: Nonprofits typically pay less than private-sector jobs. This is because nonprofits are not profit driven and they tend to rely on donations and grants for their funding. As a result, they may not be able to pay you a market rate. Nonprofit experience can be valuable as you start your career. But also keep in mind that it’s hard work that is not often rewarded monetarily. The work itself tends to be the reward.