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Abbas Virji

Special Projects Assistant

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Whether it is about the lack of potential to move upward, or the laid-back work environment, many myths and misconceptions are prevalent about working in the non-profit sector. If you attended SFU Volunteer Services event this past Wednesday, ‘Working in the Non-Profit Sector’, you probably picked up some very interesting discussion points that have addressed these misconceptions. But if you weren’t able to attend, check out why working in the non-profit sector has some large advantages over working in the corporate sector.

You Get to Work With the Community

While you may get an opportunity to work with the community at an event hosted by a corporate company, these events can sometimes be few and far between. On the other hand, non-profits often have very strong relationships with the communities around them on a day-to-day basis. For example, a Business Improvement Area (BIA) will work with the merchants on the street they are responsible for, and also hold events for residents that live in the area while working with the businesses they represent. Other examples of working at non-profits include organizations such as hospital foundations, victim services, community centres, charitable organizations, etc. Depending on your fervour for community work, this can often be a very fulfilling experience.

You Get to Try More Things

As non-profits are generally not staffed by many people, each individual may be working on three or more projects simultaneously at any given time. While this may be a stressful amount of responsibility, the opportunity also allows individuals to prosper in a variety of fields. For example, if an employee at a non-profit is working on booking a venue for an event, they may also be concurrently working on creating a webpage for the event, etc. As mentioned, this does mean that there may be more responsibility placed on each employee, but this can often result in a well-rounded, multi-skilled individual. In addition, it can also strengthen your resume immensely.

There is a Need For Fresh Talent

Non-profits often need to fill gaps in their organizations where certain skills are lacking. For example, they might need someone on their staff to manage social media accounts – something existing staff may not have experience in. On the other hand, many recent post-secondary graduates have experience in aspects such as social media, as well as in other fields, including communication, accounting, and so forth. Non-profits are also consistently looking for new ideas for their organization, whether this is by changing their mission statement or updating their branding. They value new ideas, and many recent graduates have these new ideas, making them ideal candidates for the job. It is also a good place for a graduate to start, since they can grow their network fairly well immediately after they are out of school.

Your Network May Grow to Include Individuals Outside Your Field

Working at a non-profit may include a lot of talking, whether this is in the form of a presentation, everyday correspondence, etc. You may often be meeting with key stakeholders who can influence decisions made by the non-profit organization (e.g. a hospital foundation meeting with a panel who funds the operations). Over time, you have the possibility of networking with these individuals, and also other key stakeholders you may be meeting with. Even if you are not meeting with people vital to the success/funding of the organization, other individuals you meet (perhaps in the context of a community planning meeting) could offer meaningful avenues for future growth of the non-profit. In return, this could lead to higher job satisfaction for you, especially because you would be actively making a positive change for the non-profit organization you work for.

You Might be More Satisfied With Your Job

Working with the community and other groups can often be very rewarding, most certainly when you see the results of your hard work. Depending on your perspective on involvement with the community, it may not even feel like a day job, but rather something that is your purpose to fulfill. As the Brazen Careerist mentions, “when you’re working with a mission in mind and are able to see the impact of your organization’s work on the community, your job is more than a paycheck. It allows you to tap into your passion and purpose.” That may seem a little bit over-the-top, but after being with an organization for a while and seeing the fruits of your labour, there sometimes is nothing better than realizing you’ve made a difference, whether at the individual or group level.

All in all, working at a non-profit has many advantages. Perhaps some of the aforementioned points have created a spark in your quest to explore the non-profit sector. And remember, even if you think your degree isn’t applicable to a certain non-profit job, you could be wrong.

About the Author

Abbas Virji

Special Projects Assistant
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