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Capability Company

If you are looking to change your career from for-profit or enter the nonprofit sector directly out of college or graduate school, you may find this article helpful. 

Another great way to introduce yourself to the sector is to visit where you can enter your anonymous profile.  Nonprofit employers can send you an e-mail via our system indicating their interest in you.  You then decide if you are interested in talking to the employer further. 

Also, please check our new website at  We have a number of links and resources for jobseekers available.

See you next month.Sincerely,

Rebecca L. Worters   

Breaking into the Non-Profit Sector
by Katherine Nesbeda  
Reprinted with permission of onPhilanthropy
Copyright © Changing Our World, Inc. 2006

In the past five years, the philanthropic sector has seen a growing interest from recent college graduates and young professionals.  More and more often, these students and recent graduates are realizing that a career at a not-for-profit organization, or serving at another organization in some philanthropic capacity, does not have to lead to a life of destitution.  There are real jobs -- dare I say: careers -- to be had in this industry, and they come in all shapes and sizes. 


As people come to realize this fact, an increasing number of young professionals are now seeking to break into the non-profit and/or philanthropy sectors, and as a result, jobs are becoming more competitive to land.  What follows here aims to answer the question:  How do I get a job in the philanthropic sector? 


Specify Interests


Before even embarking on the job search, it is necessary to hone your areas of interest.  For students, take a look back over classes and extracurricular activities.  While academic/disciplinary background is not necessarily the most important, it is helpful to assess what types of courses have been of particular interest and why.  What types of clubs and/or volunteer work have you participated in?  And be sure to take advantage of all the resources provided to you.  These resources may include your school’s Office of Career Services or Alumni network.  Speaking with career advisors or alumni may provide you with insight into jobs you never knew existed.


For those of us no longer in school, similar reflection may be beneficial.  What were your academic and extracurricular interests in college, and in what types of civic or volunteer outreach do you currently participate?  Also, look at the skill-sets that you have developed since entering the workforce.  Identify the areas you believe these skills can be applied to the non-profit sector, and play to these strengths.  They may be more applicable to non-profit work than you’d originally thought.


I spoke with Judith Kidd, Associate Dean of Harvard College about how her students are getting into the philanthropic sector.  First and foremost, she recommends that those looking for a job ask themselves what they want to get out of it.  For those who want to be trained in a specific manner, Dean Kidd recommends larger institutions with established departments and programs will provide structure and specialization.  On the other hand, smaller organizations may allow for more flexibility and a variety of responsibilities within a given area, allowing for the opportunity to dabble in many different things.


Dean Kidd also tells her students to be realistic in the type of jobs they expect.  She notes that entry level positions at foundations and other grant-making institutions are few and far between and most work within these organizations requires years of experience and particular expertise.


To continue reading this article, click here.  



American Humanics Logo

American Humanics is a national alliance of colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to educating, preparing, and certifying professionals to strengthen and lead nonprofit organizations.  Capability Company and have partnered with the American Humanics Initiative for Nonprofit Sector Careers and we invite you to learn more about it here.

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