Unlike many careers, there is no clear path to nonprofit work. There are few university courses and even fewer majors dedicated specifically to nonprofit management. While this may be common knowledge, it became increasingly clear as our experts rattled off degrees ranging from journalism to education to economics and many, many more. This emphasizes the bigger question, how does one pave their way to a career in the elusive nonprofit industry? Luckily, we’ve compiled an answer of sorts; have an understanding of service and compassion, or a craving for a purpose beyond the traditional.
For our first group of nonprofit experts, it was the latter which propelled them into the nonprofit industry. Their experiences in the commercial world provided them with the business savvy to run nonprofit organizations, which despite common misconception is still a business. However, even short periods of time spent working for large companies in notoriously stress-inducing industries left them bogged down by the grueling work and little to no sense of purpose. To make a true difference, many transitioned to careers which utilized their skillsets while also benefiting the greater good.
Our second group of nonprofit experts can trace their interest back to childhood influences or volunteer experiences. Some grew up with parents that instilled a sense of service and compassion, or church groups encouraging the transition to faith-based nonprofits. Others first became involved through volunteering, eventually transitioning to full-time jobs utilizing some aspect of their degree. Nonprofit work became a way to employ their skills while giving back.
The varied paths to the nonprofit industry are a testament to the need for varying skill sets and histories. While the reasoning for entering the industry may be varied, one cannot deny the fulfillment and satisfaction deriving from a career in nonprofit work. It’s what not only draws employees to the industry-but keeps them working for the cause.