This guest post was written by NU Pre-Law and Graduate School Advisor, Anne Grieves.
It may mean that you won’t be making as much money as your friend at Fidelity. It may mean that you come home from work emotionally drained. It may also mean that you come home knowing you had a positive impact on something or someone. Wherever you end up 5, 10, 15 years from now, having had even one experience working at a non-profit will give you what you won’t be able to buy with any amount of money.
In my 20s I worked for two educational travel companies; one was a for-profit and one was a not-for-profit. Each one offered amazing opportunities, but looking back, it was at the not-for-profit that I developed a stronger sense of self, gained professional self-confidence and knew that what I brought and gave was important and valued.
Working at the for-profit was FUN. The management team had frequent celebrations (with champagne), gave out bonuses, hosted annual team building ropes course retreats and much more. Anything to incentivize the staff. However, each month, those that didn’t perform as expected, were cut. There were quotas to meet and if they weren’t… tough luck. People came and went so frequently that developing relationships was very challenging.
Of course not all for-profits are like this. But, if the bottom line is making money, sometimes it comes at the expense of other things.
Five years later I worked at a similar company, but the fact that it was a not-for-profit (slightly different from non-profit), allowed me to grow in ways I would not have been able to at the previous company. I had opportunities to be creative, was able to get involved with many projects and connected with every single person in the organization. Everyone was open and willing to mentor. People were busy but were not driven by the bottom line.
The president of the company who turned 50 while I was there, started as an intern while he was in college. I was surprised to learn that many employees had been there for over 10, 15 and even 20 years. This was in 2000 and many of them are still there today! We did not have expensive celebrations (rather potluck parties). We did not have fancy office supplies. We had a sense of community. We had the daily awareness that we were creating something of value for society and we cared to do our best without monetary incentives.
Sure- even there some people had to be let go. But, only as a last resort and much coaching. Here, creativity was valued and ideas were encouraged. People recognized each other’s talents and leveraged them for constant growth of the individual and the company.
In my late 20s, working at this company I grew in many ways and made connections that have stayed with me to this day. I now have a career in higher education because that is where my passion and interests join together. But, having had a taste of working at a not-for-profit triggered that excitement of knowing I could leave work at the end of the day with an incredible sense of fulfillment.
So, if you are a student with a passion, a desire to lead, a yearning to bring about change and have a natural tendency to truly care, you should consider working for a non-profit or social impact organization.
Please join us on October 9th, 5:30-7 at the Non-Profit and Government Networking Forum in Raytheon Amphitheater, to learn more about the world of non-profits. This is an opportunity to meet with 14 organizations that are making an impact on education, the environment, the arts, health care, and social enterprise. You will get to know people within the nonprofit community in Boston who are always happy to help young people interested in using their careers for good. Also check out the nuCAUSE Careers calendar of events for the fall semester for other opportunities to explore non-profit careers.
Anne Grieves is the Pre-Law and Graduate School Career Advisor at Northeastern University Career Development. A proud ENFP, Anne enjoys helping students explore their career options through various assessment tools and workshops and is a freelance Zumba instructor. To make an appointment with Anne, call 617-373-2430.