Why working in the non-profit sector is so rewarding?
Working in the non-profit sector offers many interesting career options. This can become your lifelong career or it can be a wonderful way to gain new experiences.
My first job was with a large sports association. I graduated with a degree in Sport Administration. We studied the different nature of associations compared to business. We were a team of ten who were interested and passionate about the sport of soccer. Everything was new to me in this working world. I learned about the vast volunteer network that did the hard work of organizing the sport in local communities. Most started when their children played the sport. Many stayed on for decades. These people were a huge diversity of society who had a passion for the sport.
What surprised me about working in this association was how positive it seemed. Highly skilled people doing something they really enjoyed. We often worked long hours to get results for the players. We also worked hard to look at our organization to improve our results. We had to be efficient in how we worked and effective in getting results. It was a climate open to new ideas. We worked to create new services for our members. We were really innovative.
After six years, I decided that I needed a real job in a real business. It was then realized how much I missed working with passionate people who do good work for good reasons. I lasted two years before I left to study for a Master’s degree. Looking back I realized that “non-profit” did not mean we did not try to be entrepreneurial. Our approach was to maximize revenues from some programs to allow more to be invested in others. For example, we invested disproportionate funding to build the game for girls and women as this is how you build tomorrow’s national players.
I was fortunate to be allowed to take courses to improve my skills. I even went to New York for a week to study specialized skills for a project I would lead. This investment in training and education was useful for new skills and it provided time to think about the ideas we could use on the job. I later worked with many non-profits to help people advance their organizations. Their causes varied from immunization to housing to health. The vision is always the same; be innovative to create value for your stakeholders.
Perhaps the most important skill necessary for working in a non-profit is problem solving. You will face many interesting problems that need solutions. This skill is useful in any future jobs you may have.
Today I am part of the Vectors Institute to help shape courses for the next generation of non-profit staff. Learning is a vital aspect of administration and management. Many charities, associations, and causes provide vital services for a healthy and vibrant society. Non-profits matter to people. They are an ideal place to start and build your career.