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Finding real rewards: Work for a Non-Profit

By Erdin Beshimov

Not sure whether you want to work for a nonprofit? Here are some reasons why the non-profit sector can be a great career destination.

Dedication to a Noble Cause

Why does everyone tell you to find a job that you love.  To a freshly-minted college grad, scrambling to find a job, temping at a calling center by day and browsing online job-boards by night, this may seem like a broken record.  But the minute you get that desperately-needed first job, you realize that what seemed annoying at first turns out to be valuable professional wisdom.  And the minute you start seriously disliking your job, you think, "I should've listened."

Truth be told, working for a nonprofit will not automatically make you love what you do.  Like in every profession, the nonprofit world has a healthy dose of the routine and boring. 

But if you feel that at the end of the day your work helps other people and makes society better-off, chances are you will get a good boost of energy to overcome the often unavoidable negatives and to concentrate on the big positives in what you do. 

Work or Travel Abroad

For many a college student the opportunity to travel and live in a foreign country can be as exciting as starting college.  And for college grads who often find themselves sealed on the 39th floor of a glass tower in Manhattan a foreign destination other than Cancun or Monte Carlo can be really appealing. 

Imagine living in a village in Kenya and helping mountain farmers set up portable power generators so that they could recharge the village's only mobile phone and keep in touch with their relatives in the city.  Imagine going to Yugoslavia to help inner city kids set up and run a bicycle shop to keep them away from drugs and crime.  Imagine working with youth groups in Tajikistan, teaching them design political campaigns and work with their elected representatives to promote political reform. 

Sounds tremendously exciting and rewarding, doesn't it?  What's important here is that you're not simply going abroad, spending time at resorts and tourist sites.  You're actively engaging with the people and helping them improve their lives.  At the same time, you're learning from them, living a true life of learning by doing. 

Meet Amazing People

As you pursue a mission of social change and improvement, you will meet many fascinating people from diverse walks of life.  You will meet like-minded people, who, like you, discovered a cause they're passionate about and are actively involved in promoting it.  You will meet people who will help you by example to define and pursue your own ideas and further directions.

Flexible, unregimented work regime

Ever felt like you are dying to cut the hours you spend at your office desk staring at the computer screen?  Well, working for a nonprofit may well be your chance to do that.  Depending on the kind of nonprofit that you'd be working for, you can expect to be involved in outside work somewhere between twenty to eighty percent of your time.  Social and community workers often spend their entire days out 'in the field' working directly with people in their communities.  As a youth development worker, for example, you will spend a lot of working hours in schools and playgrounds, helping teenagers lead healthy and positive, goal-oriented lives.  Isn't it great to feel productive and involved while at the same time staying true to your outdoorsy nature?!

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