By Jason Schwartzman, Director of ChildFund’s Program Assessment and Learning Unit
As college seniors begin thinking of the job market, we offer five pieces of advice for those interested in not-for-profit work.
1. Look for supervisors you can learn from. You’ll need to respect them, and they’ll need to see supervising you as something worth investing time in.
2. Make sure the organization you work for reflects your values and beliefs; otherwise, your stomach will turn at work too much, your eyes will roll, your colleagues will pick up on it and you won’t get what you need from the experience.
3. Go for basic work and technical skills and get them down. What are basic work skills? Caring about your work and working as part of a team to make that team more productive. What are basic technical skills? Writing – become excellent at written communication of all types, including report writing. Get experience writing or providing necessary inputs to the grants acquisition and management process. A bit of financial budgeting and reporting is also great to have.
4. Be organized and proactive. Seek out regular supervision to get better at basic skills. Early in your career, this is allowed. At some later point, your basic skills are assumed to be in place, and then you are trying to cover up weaknesses.
5. Learn how to nag without alienating, how to not be shy and reluctant, how not to be obnoxious and how to listen and ask questions. Even stupid ones. You have a small window in which to ask what may seem like a stupid question to you, but for the rest of us, it isn’t – we’re covering up and can’t ask it.