Choosing A Career With Purpose
January 24, 2018
In the not-so-distant past, people ended up working for nonprofit organizations by accident or as a last resort. In large part, this was attributable to the fact nonprofits paid significantly less than for-profit institutions. Thus, nonprofit organizations had less appeal, but that has changed. The Millennial generation, as a collective unit, has decided working for an organization with a purpose is far more important than a high salary or a defined and direct career path. They also like the transparency most nonprofit organizations provide.
It is easier to get up, go to work, slog through the less than exciting aspects of a job when the company is either contributing to or advancing the greater good because it means the work you are doing is benefiting something other than a bottom line. For example, at the end of the day, knowing that everything you did during the day was to support feeding hungry children is not only rewarding, it is also invigorating.
To those of you who haven’t considered the nonprofit sector, which is composed of sub-sectors such as healthcare, culture, kids, arts, the environment, social services, animal welfare, human rights, poverty, hunger, etc., there are other benefits in working for a nonprofit organization beyond knowing that the work you are doing is contributing to the greater good.
The reasons outlined below are incredible benefits nonprofit organizations offer, yet are not necessarily immediately apparent:
More Responsibility: In a nonprofit organization, there are less people to do the much needed work, thus junior people are often tapped to take on a higher level of responsibility earlier than their corporate peers. This provides incredible opportunities for growth.
Networking Opportunities: Unlike in a corporate office where senior management is virtually cordoned off, in a nonprofit organization, an intern or entry-level hire will often have the opportunity to engage with the executive director and board members. This may even provide for mentorship opportunities that available in a corporate environment.
Variety: Because nonprofit employees wear many hats, the job description and responsibilities will be quite varied. While one may work primarily with numbers, she or he may also have to be involved in a new marketing campaign, or donor outreach plan, etc. The variety allows individuals access to job skills she or he may not have considered.
Creativity: While many corporate entities rely on their policies and doing things the way they have been done, nonprofit organizations are always in search of a better, less expensive, more creative way to accomplish something. Nonprofit organizations have perfected the “thinking outside the box” mentality and approach.
Passion: Remember when you were in school and when you hung around with peers who were really passionate about a particular topic? Their passion was almost palpable, contagious even. The same is true for nonprofit employees – it is much more fun and invigorating to work with people who are passionate about what they do for a living.
There is no perfect job, but in today’s job marketplace, one must consider the benefits beyond salary and vacation. The constraints placed on us by older generations have fallen to the wayside, it is okay to switch jobs and careers, and seeking a job with purpose is now valued. If you are about to graduate from college, have been working in corporate America for a few years (or more than a few), consider the rewards and benefits of working for a nonprofit organization.
Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Clinical Professor
Department Head, Graduate Studies