"Stretch beyond your comfort zone. You never know who might be able to help you," states speaker Davin Cardenas'04.
This is a snippet of the type of advice students receive when they attend
the Careers for the Common Good Panel. This annual event gives students
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 students came to the event to hear about job opportunities but left
with more than work related information. Rosie McGoldrick, an
Environmental Studies major at SSU shared her experience stating, "I'm
glad I came. I learned more about non-profits than I expected to. I also
learned that what you major in doesn't determine what you're going to
do. It's all about your passion."
Noah Tenney, a Communications major, Political Science minor reflected, "Now
I understand what makes a non-profit a non-profit. I thought
non-profits were all volunteers. Now I realize the difference is where
the money that's raised goes."
Speakers of the 2013 panel left to right: Cruz Cavallo Sonoma County Behavioral Health, Briana Downey '00 CalSERVES Americorps, Jazmine Allen Peace Corps, Davin Cardenas '04 North Bay Community Organizing Project, and Jen Prentiss '10 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
Each speaker introduced themselves and the non-profit they were
representing. The panel consisted of four females and one male. The
speakers noted this female to male ratio was common in their field of
work and they were all supportive of a more male represented non-profit
The speakers advised taking advantage of the Writing Center because of its
ability to hone professional writing skills. Additionally, speaker
Briana Downey '00 passed on some helpful information stating, "Being a
successful grant writer, you will always have a job in the non-profit
sector." In addition, Jen Prentiss encouraged all students to consider
non-profits stating, "No matter what degree one earns there is a role
for them in the non-profit sector. We need financial analysts,
marketing professionals, sociologists, HR, writers, business
majors, science majors.... all of 'em!"
Additionally, the speakers all agreed networking is one of the most important skills
you can acquire in undergrad. Not far behind was public speaking.
"Learning how to take a message and deliver it in a way that meets the
needs of the audience is a great skill," stated Briana Downey. They
also stressed the importance of volunteering and interning as it is the
main way to become involved in the non-profit world.
Although Amy McCrary of the Climate Protection Campaign was
unable to join us, she agrees with the other speakers that strong
verbal and written communication skills are paramount, as well as
networking and taking initiative. She is happy to answer questions about
working with an environmental organization, so feel free to contact her
Although non-profit organizations focus on fulfilling their mission, the reality
is, they need money to operate. According to speaker Davin Cardenas,
"If you're not real about making money in the non-profit world, then
you're not really being real." Acquiring fundraising skills can
be extremely helpful to non-profits. So if you are interested in
impressing non-profits fundraising might be something you look into
figuring out. Furthermore, despite popular belief, it is possible to
make a decent living working with non-profit organizations. Every one of
the panelists had a paying job in the non-profit sector.
The Careers for Common Good Panel was a great success with a turnout of over 40 students. Thank you to the JUMP and Career Services for co-hosting this event. Special thanks to the amazing presenters who volunteered their time, experiences and great advice! The panel will
return in 2014, so stay tuned!
Here is a link to the previous Careers for Common Good Panel Blog 2012 http://www.sonoma.edu/cce/blog/2012/04/careers-for-common-good-panel-2012.html