Allison Fine, an expert on nonprofit management, offers college students suggestions when pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector. Her advice is pragmatic and may surprise you: according to Allison, passion and idealism are not all it takes to be successful.
Rather than relying on episodic volunteer work, Allison recommends finding a semester-long internship at a nonprofit that involves managing a project from start to finish. Longer-term commitments enable students to get a good idea of the inner-workings of an organization. Engaging in self-study can also give students a better understanding of nonprofit roles. She recommends informational interviews with alumni who are working in nonprofits and also subscribing to philanthropic journals and blogs, such as The Chronicle of Philanthropy and the Idealist.org career blog. Joining organizations with like-minded people will ensure students learn more about working in the field while also meeting other professionals and hearing about job opportunities.
Beyond these practical steps, Allison's most important piece of advice? Learn to listen. People working at nonprofits are usually there because they want to help and may assume they already know how others feel. Active listening is key to effective problem solving and will result in better outcomes. LEARN MORE