Have you ever considered working for a charity, for a cause you passionately believe in? In this sector you can discover opportunities to work in a fast-moving environment where causes close to your heart motivate you every day. Senior Careers Consultants James Goodwin and Chris Manley consider some of the factors that may inspire you to work in the charitable sector.
It’s a good opportunity to use your business acumen
Whilst the purpose of a successful charity will be different to businesses in other sectors, the way in which they are run will be similar. According to Dr. Carol Hornden, the Chief Executive Officer of the Coram Foundation, Britain’s oldest charity established in 1739 to work with vulnerable children
“Charities are mission-driven and run for social benefit, but don’t survive unless they’re run like businesses.”
Working for a charity will give you the opportunity to develop your business skills. You may be doing things like using your commercial awareness to make decisions on what projects a charity pursues, using your numerical abilities to establish the viability of campaigns and using sales skills to gain stakeholder buy-in.
You can bring your whole self to work
If you want more from your working hours than the person who can only say of their job ‘Well, at least it pays the bills!’, then the charitable sector enables you to be paid for advancing a cause you genuinely believe in. You don’t have to leave the causes you believe in to your spare time or your spare cash, or even just looking back nostalgically to things you used to care about during your student days. You will be being paid for issues that you would have wanted to have got involved with anyway.
It’s a fast moving sector full of change and new challenges
It will probably come as no surprise that roles and positions within the charity sector are often heavily reliant upon the availability of external funding. It will be commonplace that you may find yourself moving from one short term contract to another. However there are lots of positives to developing a portfolio career; undoubtedly you will gain exposure to a wide variety of people and positions and you may have the opportunity to move around geographically. If you want to find out more about the potential opportunities in the charitable sector, the Charity Works Placement Scheme matches successful applicants to charities that would provide volunteers with an ethically rewarding experience.
You can use your experience
If you have been involved in student campaigning or charitable work you will have the skill set, initiative and commitment that will appeal to organisations in the charitable sector. Securing an internship is a frequent route into paid work – experience with a relevant issue and the more general skills which active involvement in charitable work will have given you, will be attractive to charities when you approach them for internship opportunities.
You can get a job in this sector!
Contrary to what you may think, gaining a job in this sector post-graduation is achievable. Bruna de Palo, Partnerships and Engagement Manager at Charityjob, says that there are more jobs than applicants in the charitable sector, but charities are not receiving sufficient applications from candidates with examples of relevant previous experience. To maximise your chances of getting into this sector you may want to consider taking a short internship. The Three Faiths Forum for example, where you can gain experience of fundraising, media work and school based activities, could provide you with three to six months experience for three days a week.
In summary, the main message we want to give you is that getting a job within this sector is achievable. It is estimated that approximately 600,000 people work in paid roles in the voluntary sector, a relatively small number meaning jobs are highly sought after. It will take time and effort on your part but if you do succeed, you will end up with both a rewarding and highly satisfying career developing a broad range of skills.
As with any competitive role it is important you start planning your route into this sector early and carefully. Your university careers service should be able to help you navigate a path into this field. At Warwick you can spend some time having a look at the activities that Warwick Volunteers offer and also consider getting involved in one of the many charity-focused Warwick SU societies.