"Know who you are, know what drives you," affirmed panelist Sean Michetti from the Peace Corps.
All of the Careers for the Common Good speakers stressed the importance of internships and volunteering because they are an entry point for many nonprofits and governmental organizations. Sean Michetti said, "To apply the knowledge is more important than the grades you get." Getting some experience on paper makes you competitive for a position to an employer. "Have on your resumé that you have been in that environment. You have a lot of skills that you have learned in school and have so many more", said SSU graduate Angie Corwin from the Sonoma County Department of Health Services.
Careers for the Common Good Panel is the annual event that gives students the opportunity to listen to speakers, to ask questions, and to receive advice from Sonoma State University graduates and local citizens who make a living in nonprofits and governmental organizations.
"They are so passionate. They believe in the work," said Angie Corwin. She said that the people you meet are ones who enjoy going to work and making a difference. She expressed that people go out and do work because they are committed to helping the common good. There are plenty of rewards to working for nonprofits or governmental organizations.
Students asked what skills they need to have when applying for a job to make it in the nonprofit world. Sean Michetti said that being bilingual, especially in Spanish, can set yours apart from a stack of applications. Angie Corwin mentioned that having the skills attained from a communications and public relations degree is useful in any job. "I think it's important to get clear on what your values are before you apply for a job because once you work for a company/nonprofit you represent them in the public's eye."
The panelists told students that the job search process, however daunting, can be seen as a positive experience."It's a great way to get professional skills" said Briana Downey, another Sonoma State grad, now working for CalSERVES. Angie Corwin added "I think it's important to get clear on what your values are before you apply for a job because once you work for a company/nonprofit you represent them in the public's eye. "It is a great time for development, both professional and personal.
The panel consisted of one man and three women. According to Angie Corwin, this ratio is not uncommon. Men are encouraged to apply to this heavily women dominated field to increase gender diversity. Also, nonprofits need more age diversity. Diane Brown from Sonoma State's MPA program stated there is a great need for young people, especially recently out of college, to replace retiring Baby Boomers in the sector.
Although nonprofit organizations focus on fulfilling their mission, the reality is, they need money to operate. Nonprofits are just like any other organization in regards to what they need to run. Furthermore, despite popular belief, it is possible to make a decent living working with nonprofit organizations. All of the panelists are decently paid for their hard work.
The Careers for Common Good Panel was a great success with a turnout of over 40 students. Thank you to JUMP for co-hosting this event. Special thanks to the amazing presenters who volunteered their time, experiences and great advice! The panel will return in 2015, so stay tuned!
Here is a link to the previous Careers for Common Good Panel 2013: