For those of us who have had to circumnavigate the perilous sea of choosing a career upon graduation from college, we know that the pressure to find a job that is both enjoyable and financially supportive can be overwhelming. At many prestigious universities, graduates feel burdened to land high-paying, high-powered jobs.
As a result of the current state of the U.S. economy, the job market, or perhaps because of sheer force of habit, the most highly coveted jobs are largely considered to be on or around Wall Street. Be it banking, law, venture capital, etc., there is no doubt that for some people, this type of job provides the perfect alignment of talent, ability, and passion. But FLiP isn't for those rare few; it's for those of us who aren't sure where our personal 'intersection' lies - but who are also used to overachieving and want to continue to do well. For those of you uncomfortable with the typical career path that many of your friends are embarking upon, this is a call to consider a slightly different route - one that requires a more introspective, proactive approach.
Financial firms often have a well-established recruiting process, and it is very easy to let the allure of this structured, on-campus system draw you in. But don't let the ease of the process prevent you from exploring options outside the 'finance' box. Students who wish to pursue nonprofit, philanthropic, or fundraising jobs often must do their own leg work, which means networking, web research, and submitting applications. Understandably, with the stress of graduating, finals, and starting a new life from scratch, many students see this as taking an unnecessary risk. Why go for the bird in the bush when you've already got two in your hand? Without the assurance that following leads will bear fruit at the end of a period of effort, it is difficult to make the decision to pursue other options.
Further complicating the situation is that some people aren't even aware that jobs in the nonprofit sector don't automatically mean a life of hard-living where the work is difficult and employees are frustrated and underappreciated. In fact, the truth is often quite the opposite. Careers in the nonprofit sector combine a heartfelt mission with dedication, professionalism, and the same kinds of personal development one can find at a for-profit company.
If you find yourself in this dilemma, it is important that you ask yourself, how satisfied will I be in my new profession? Will I be fulfilled? Will I find enough to challenge and excite me? Will I feel that my talents are going to good use? These are questions better asked prior to diving in, saving from potential disappointment down the line.
Once your decision has been made, just remember that there are other options out there, and sometimes a little effort goes a long way. There are tons of resources on the internet for people looking for jobs in the sector, and your research will yield a plethora of information that you may never have heard from those career advisors and on-campus recruiters.
Your search may lead you to be a banker, and if you're happy, that's okay with me. But if you're like me, you know that the buck doesn't stop at banking, and other options exist!
Good luck, and happy hunting, grads!
Adriana Dolgetta is an Associate Director in the Fundraising Division of Changing Our World, Inc., a national consulting firm advising nonprofits, foundations and corporations involved in philanthropy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.