"Do some volunteer work, just because you're not getting a paycheck does not mean it is not valuable to your future employer. Life experiences bring just as much to the table as degrees and credentials," states speaker Anya Perron-Burdick. This is a snippet of the type of advice students receive when the Center for Community Engagement collaborated with JUMP and Career Services to hold the annual Careers for the Common Good Panel. The students are given the opportunity to listen to speakers, ask questions and receive advice from Sonoma State University graduates and local citizens who make a living in the non-profit world.
The panel featured eight speakers: Shana Friedman'05, '10 from Community Action Partnership, Jen Prentiss'10 from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Elene Hertweck from Peace Corps, Davin Cardenas'04 from the North Bay Community Organizing Project , Ventura Albor Restorative Resources, Anya Perron-Burdick & Allison Lesa from the Center for Social and Environmental Stewardship and Jerry Noviello from CalSERVES Americorps.
The speakers were clear about the importance of a liberal arts education. "While in college,use the Writing Center. It will help with sentence structure and condensing thoughts. Both are valuable skills when writing grants" stated Shana Friedman. Anya Perron-Burdwick agreed, "there's another side to working in non-profits. We need computer and tech people. We need people who are good with money. If you're a communications major there's always a job for you in non-profits. Non-profits are made of more than just program directors."
In the world of non-profits, volunteering and networking are key to being successful. Other speakers agreed with Anya Perron-Burdwick when she shared that "the more experience you have on your resume, the more powerful you'll be in the job market."Although non-profits are more focused on following their missions than financial gain, they need finances in order to operate. One necessary skill needed to work in the non-profit sector is the ability to make money. According to speaker Ventura Albor, "raising money is relational and indicative of your skill set." Despite popular belief, it is possible to make a decent living working with non-profit organizations. "I'm making more in the non-profit sector than I did working as a teacher. I can eat more than ramen every day," declared speaker Allison Lesa.
The students came to the event to hear about job opportunities but left with more than work related information. The speakers were sure to share some of the lessons learned in their journey through the labor market. Allison Lesa shared her experience working in the non-profit sector, stating "life is an adjustment. There are always new needs, issues and ways to adjust. Your job will never get boring because you are constantly needing to adjust." To help the students potential feelings of discouragement, Elene Hertweck advises "fall on your face and get back up. If you apply for the Peace Corps and don't make it then apply again next time. When you finally make it and look back, you'll be able to say 'what a ride.'"
The Careers for Common Good Panel had a turnout of over 40 students enthralled in the world of non-profits. One especially inspired Sonoma State University student, who attended the event, stated, "the Careers for Common Good panel gave real life experiences to careers in non-profits that we so often hear about." The Careers for Common Good Panel will return in 2013 so stay tuned! Special thanks to the amazing presenters who volunteered their time to share their experiences and make this event successful.
Here is a link to the previous Careers for Common Good Panel Blog 2011: http://www.sonoma.edu/cce/blog/2011/03/