5 key themes from the explore careers in charities and non-profits panel

On 27 January we welcomed a panel of professionals onto campus to share their experiences and offer advice to those interested in working for a charity or non-profit organisation.

Image: volunteers leveling concrete

Here are five key themes from the discussion:

1. Securing paid opportunities:

Making the transition from unpaid to paid roles and financial stability are concerns for many looking to work in the charity or non-profit sector. All our panel agreed that volunteering experience would be hugely valuable (if not essential) as organisations will often recruit for paid roles from their pool of volunteers. One of the panelists described how she had made a gradual transition from a retail role to a full-time charity role by initially taking part-time charity role alongside her retail job. All our panel agreed that part-time or temporary opportunities are often overlooked (and therefore less competitive) despite being great ways to enter the sector.

2. Where to find roles and what to search for:

Tips from our panel included:

  • Reading Voluntary Action – for a huge range of volunteering opportunities in the Reading Area. Other regions of England will have an equivalent organisation, you can search here.
  • A number of our panel found their jobs (or recruited) on CharityJob.
  • There are many recruitment agencies that specialise in the charity and non-profit sector. Harris Hill was mentioned by two of our panel, and you can find a full list here.
  • To identify entry-level roles, panel members suggested searching for roles with ‘officer’ or ‘coordinator’ in the title. Salary can also offer an indication of the level of a role, and one panel member suggested roles offering £20- 26k were likely to be entry-level.

3. Importance of transferable skills:

Many of our panel worked in other sectors prior to joining non-profits and emphasised the value of transferrable skills from all kinds of work. Communication skills and building relationships are a huge asset, as are office administration, event organisation, digital marketing and many more.

4. Be an influencer / build your network:

It’s possible to influence people without holding formal leadership positions by doing what you believe in and talking about it! Use LinkedIn to connect with others who share your interests and use Eventbrite to find meetups and events happening near you. Remember to check the privacy settings on your social media accounts as many employers will check these when they recruit.

5. Get involved!

If you’re not able to secure an internship with the charity of your dreams, have you considered starting your own project or campaign linked to your cause of interest? Just like volunteering, this needn’t be an all-consuming commitment but can be something you fit around studying and other work commitments. There are many opportunities to get involved right here through RUSU.