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How to Get Started with a Career in Non-Profit and NGO Organizations

Non-Profit and NGO Organizations

Non-profit and NGO organizations work to give back to the communities. They often prop up society in ways that the government has either failed to do or has not even begun to look at. Their work helps people directly face-to-face and indirectly by advocating for changes from local and federal government bodies. 

Making the world a better place is extremely rewarding and fulfilling, and for those who want to make a difference, these two sectors are some of the bests to work for. While some skillsets make it easy to work across the board, from charity to charity, others make you perfect for one single sector. There is no right or wrong way to start your career, of course, but if you – like many others – have found that it is actually hard to work for a non-profit or NGO, you are not alone. 

Two situations are going to make it difficult to start your career in these sectors. The first is a lack of resources. Most non-profits and NGOs will have a limited budget to hire and take on people in a paid capacity. Larger organizations do have the funding but are also swamped with applications from many prospective job seekers. 


Therefore, it can be difficult to get your foot in the door, but with this guide and a list of suggestions, you should be better prepared to make the connections and start your career.

Build Up Your Credentials 

Making the shift to working in these public-serving organizations can be done at any time in your career. It can be done mid-way through your life; it can be done just after your graduate. 

Academic Credentials 

People who work in these sectors are smart and dedicated. However, they need new, diverse minds that bring innovative ideas and unique solutions to the problems that are facing communities around the world today. 

Investing in your education is the best way to prepare yourself for these challenges and work to give you increased options in the future. Take education, for example. What you can learn with a masters in education is diverse and can help students of all ages. It can even help with rehabilitation and retraining for people that society often overlooks, like those who were in prison or those with special needs. 

Working for NGOs and non-profits means you can help overlooked populations and either provide them with the tools they need to succeed or at least a voice so that they may be heard. Working in such a sector is not easy, and academic qualifications can give you the foundation and, more importantly, the qualification to speak up and have your voice heard. 

Certificates and Other Notable Options 

Commit to lifelong learning, and you will do well in life. Unfortunately, very few degrees stay relevant, especially when choosing something like an MA in education. As the years become decades, what you learned back when you completed your Master’s will become outdated. This does not mean that your degree is useless in the future, but rather it is up to you to continue to stay on top of the latest thoughts and theories in your field on your own.

You can do this by reading academic journals, keeping in touch with your alumni community, and attending talks, workshops, and conferences. Then, if there are opportunities for you to train and earn further certification, take it. That sort of dedication and passion to your field is exactly how you can stand out from other job seekers and how you can help the public most.

We are continually learning how to treat each other better, and because of that, sectors like education are going to change again and again – and that’s before you look at the curriculum. So, stay on top of your education and work to advance it with credentials and other lifelong learning methods, and you can be at the top of your field and do better for those you want to represent. 

Work Experience 

All types of work experience are useful for those looking to get started at a non-profit or NGO. While they absolutely will prioritize those, who have worked at a similar organization before, that does not mean that you cannot secure a new role or internship by highlighting your work experience and how it can easily translate to the role that you want to apply for. 

Start Volunteering 

Building your credentials is important for your resume and for appealing to recruiters, but it doesn’t always show that you are passionate about the non-profit or their work. If you have a specific organization that you want to work for, then the best way to introduce yourself to them is to volunteer for them as often as you can.

You’ll make friends, start giving back to the communities that you want to help, and most importantly, for your career, you’ll start meeting people who can help give a good word for you when a job opportunity arises.

There is a reason why most of the NGOs and non-profits you apply to have a section that asks if you currently work or volunteer with them. They want to focus on those that are already dedicated to their organization and their cause. 

Don’t Shy Away from Internship Opportunities 

Another way to get involved and get your foot in the door, the same way volunteering can help, is by going for internship opportunities. These can be a great way to show what you can do and to introduce yourself to the people in charge. Every industry is a networking game. Knowing who is who and, more importantly, being a familiar face will help you get a job over other applicants.

How to Get Your First Job 

The most important thing you can do is declare what you want. Do this on your online job profiles. Do this with your volunteer organizers, internship supervisors, and the internet at large if you have a website and blog. Volunteer, intern, and integrate yourself into the community that you want to help. Most of all, however, is to be patient. Apply to all options available, even with new and small organizations. Getting in the door is the hardest part but working your way up from there is all about networking and taking advantage of opportunities as they come to you. 

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