Building your resume with non-profits

So you’re looking for your first internship or “real” job but you’rjobsearchnewspaper.jpge nervous that your resume looks a little weak. Beef it up with some non-profit experience.

For college students it shouldn’t be a surprise that non-profits are a great source for experience. If you’re thinking only corporations or agencies are looking for top-level talent, think again. Non-profits have limited resources so it’s very important to get a bang for every buck and ambitious college students offer an explosion for low cost.

Internships
Although my non-profit internship didn’t pay as well some others (it did pay decently though) or have the cachet of working for a big firm, I was quite lucky. While my friends who worked at corporate and agency positions spent 20 hours a week making copies and updating media reports, I became the editor of three publications within a week.

Super small staffs mean interns need to perform at least at an entry level and many are expected to do more than that. With that being said, a non-profit internship isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re looking for an easy summer break, I’m sure McDonalds is hiring. But if you want to put the skills you learned in the classroom into action, try a non-profit.

To start your search for non-profit internships, visit idealist.org.

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Classroom Projects
You don’t have to commit to a full internship to get non-profit experience. Leverage your classroom projects to work with well-rounded clientele.

If a class calls for you to create a project such as a media kit, find a non-profit whose mission fits with your interests. Many small non-profits would jump at the chance for some “free work.” More importantly, many non-profits either don’t have materials prepared or the time to update them. This is a great opportunity for a class project to go beyond the classroom and actually be to put to good use.

Volunteer Your Skills
Volunteering is a great opportunity to strengthen your professional skills. If you don’t have previous employment, volunteering can be considered “work” even if you aren’t paid for it. See Susan J. Ellis’s article “Put Volunteer Work on Your Resume,” for tips on how to leverage volunteering to get an interview.

If you have a skill you want to work on before applying for an internship, volunteer your time on specific projects to hone it. Writing press releases, working on special events and performing research are all great examples where non-profits could use some support.

A bonus with this option is that you get a great resume builder while doing as much or as little to fit your schedule.

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