Explore Career Paths
There are often two main interests that might inspire you to work in nonprofit management.
- You might be interested in working for nonprofit organizations in general to help with a mission for the “public benefit” in some way.
- You might be interested in a particular cause or issue, whether it might be environmental, charitable, emergency relief, etc.
Check out the career guide below for more information on different paths you can take within nonprofits.
Interested in a career in education? There are plenty of great opportunities in the education field that don’t require an education degree! Traditional teaching can still be a great option, and you can also explore teaching programs (like Teach for America), teaching abroad, and more. The career guide below is a great tool for you to explore an overview of many paths within education.
Ask a Badger
Over one-third of nonprofits believe the following five areas will experience the most job growth in the coming year: fundraising/development; direct services; education/community outreach; program management/support; and marketing/communications/public relations2016 NEP Survey
Attend an Event
Opportunities to Explore
Still exploring your options and looking to learn? These events are a great place to start.
Career & Networking Events
Ready to get your applications together, network with employers and alumni, and land that job or internship? Don’t miss these events.
Get A Job Or Internship
Ready to get a job or internship? Internships are your way of “test-driving” a particular field or career path. They allow you to experience what skills, challenges, and opportunities may be offered in many different positions and work environments. Here, you will find many resources to help you apply to jobs and internships in this industry as well as view featured employers that may be helpful on your path to success!
Nonprofit Management Resources
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What are Nonprofits and How are They Organized?
What is a Nonprofit?
The nonprofit sector is comprised of organizations working towards bettering or addressing a certain issue and/or need as defined by each organization’s mission statement. The Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University has conducted research on nonprofits and developed the following list of characteristics for nonprofit organizations:
• Institutionally separate from government (but may work in tandem with government agencies);
• They do not make or return profits to their owners or directors; money received from fundraising goes back into the organization to support the mission
• Self-governing (able to control their own activities); and
• Voluntary (non-compulsory and involving some meaningful degree of voluntary participation)
• Not all nonprofits are charities. As you will see below, an entity can be a nonprofit but not be a charitable cause
Nonprofit speak 101 – learn the lingo of the sector
Types of nonprofits
In the United States, as recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) there are three main types of nonprofit organizations (note: there are 29 types of organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c). Each type of organization is exempt from certain taxes because of the contributions it makes to the community.
- 501(c)(3) – The majority of nonprofits are in this category. They must show broad public support. Donations are tax-deductible; Common examples include private foundations and charitable nonprofits. Research them on sites such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar
- 501(c)(4) – They perform advocacy/lobbying work, ostensibly designed to promote social welfare causes (e.g., AARP). These groups are allowed to to participate in politics, so long as politics do not become their primary focus; meaning they must spend less than 50 percent of their money on politics. Donations to 501c4’s is not tax-deductible
- 501(c)(6) – This includes professional and trade associations, chambers of commerce, trade boards, real estate boards, and even NFL teams (so long as they don’t generate a profit for their members). Donations to 501c6’s is not tax-deductible.
Nonprofit Job Titles
|Common corporate or
government job titles
|Administrative Assistant||Board Administrator|
|Event planner||Community Organizer|
|Programmer/web developer||Program Coordinator|
Download this free book: The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for First-Time Job Seekers
Also read: How to Turn a Volunteer Gig Into A Job
Domestic Nonprofit Volunteering & Internships
INTERN/VOLUNTEER IN THE MADISON AREA
The Morgridge Center at the Red Gym here on campus is a great place to start. They have a lot of knowledge about local nonprofits and a great opportunities database. Some of their special options include:
- The Badger Volunteer program
- A fantastic weekly newsletter called the Morgridge Mail where you can get weekly updates about local nonprofit opportunities
Volunteer Your Time is the place to find local Madison area opportunities with all kinds of nonprofits
Community Shares features a wide range of local nonprofits looking for help – many near campus. There are great opportunities to gain skills in advocacy, direct service, grant writing, and much more.
Volunteer Match has both Madison opportunities as well as opportunities nationwide
Wisconsin Health Corps has public health opportunities you can engage in
Meet local employers at the Public Service Fair (held early each fall and spring semester)
Intern/Volunteer Nation- or Worldwide
- Idealist is the closest thing you’ll find to a nonprofit careers homepage and it is THE place to find and learn about specific nonprofit organizations that focus on issues you care about, read blogs about the nonprofit sector, find internship and job postings nation- and worldwide, and so much more
- Volunteer Match has opportunities all over the US as well as worldwide
- Student Conservation Association – The SCA is a fantastic organization that motivates and deploys thousands of young people who care passionately about improving the natural world. They intern in national parks and public lands and urban green spaces to make improvements and learn conservation and sustainability practices. They learn how to plan, enact, and lead, all while making a tangible impact in conservation
- The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) – The CNCS is a federal entity that helps more than 5 million Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through service and sponsors the following programs (among many others):
- AmeriCorps – Vista, State/National, and NCCC Programs
- Teach for America
- City Year
- College Possible
- Public Allies – Allies are placed with with a nonprofit organization where they help address critical community needs such as youth development, education, workforce development, environmental issues, arts programming and community health.
- National Health Corps – Connects people who need it most with health education and services today, while developing tomorrow’s compassionate health leaders.
- NPO.net – Non profit job and internship listings esp for northern IL and southern WI
- Bridgespan – This site is dedicated to advancing your career and involvement in the nonprofit sector
- The Public Service Careers Job Search Resource Center has some great articles and resources
When should you start looking for internships or volunteer experiences?
The nonprofit sector doesn’t have a “hiring season.” Much of the hiring in nonprofits takes place ad hoc (as needed) and at the entry level, much happens through referrals and “word of mouth” rather than job postings. For internships or targeted volunteer opportunities (ones you choose in order to gain specific knowledge and skills), start planning anywhere from 4-6 months before you hope to start. This will give you enough time to narrow down your interests and discern which skills you’d like to build through the experience. Most opportunities will be unpaid, so also seek out scholarships that may help you fund your internship. During the 4-6 months before you start, take the time to do any or all of the following:
- Take Inter LS 260, a one-credit, on-line internship course offered to all students regardless of major or year in school each Fall, Spring, and Summer
- Network with alums through LinkedIn and/or Badger Bridge and connect with nonprofit networking groups that can help you get started in the nonprofit sector (see tab below)
- Read: What’s the Best Way to Break Into the Non-Profit Sector
When should you start applying for jobs?
The general rule of thumb would be to make formal applications about 30-90 days before you hope to start work, but your networking should start much, much sooner. As noted above, start networking 4-6 months to as much as several years before you hope to start a career in nonprofits. The nonprofit world – especially at the entry level – thrives on personal recommendations, and you need to be known to be recommended. In addition to LinkedIn and Badger Bridge, also consider joining groups like YNPN and/or AFP (links below on the Networking tab) to begin getting connected to nonprofit work in the Madison area and beyond. Also read: How to Turn a Volunteer Gig Into A Job
International Nonprofit Volunteering and Internships
International Nonprofit Opportunities
Tings to do while you are still a student at UW – Madison include:
- Explore and plan a study abroad program to gain global perspectives
- Get an international internship through the IIP office so that you can work abroad (during or apart from your study semester)
- Explore Wisconsin Idea Fellowships which provide funding to undergraduate student projects working towards solving a challenge identified along with local or global community partner
- Make an appointment to meet with our Campus Peace Corps Representative to learn how service in the Peace Corps can boost your future career goals – including potentially paying up to 33% of your graduate school tuition!
- Explore your options and learn about ways to develop foreign language skills at Languages at UW – Madison since international organizations seek candidates that have proficiency in languages other than English.
- Investigate if you can volunteer within a Wisconsin-based organization that supports projects in the developing world
- Join a student org focused on international development issues such as WUD Global Connections
- Apply to the State Department’s Virtual Student Federal Service program which allows you to intern all over the world without ever leaving Madison!
- The website Indev has a bunch of great articles about working in International Development (12 pages worth on a wide range of topics)
Sites That Post Jobs & Internships in International Nonprofits and NGOs
- DevNet Jobs
- World Wide Helpers
- Global Health Corps
- Global Aid Workers
- This page provides a list of organizations “doing good” throughout the world as well as aid-working job sites, where you might be able to get your hands on a job to do your own “good”
- NGO Aid Map shares information about international development and humanitarian response by mapping diverse projects visually and interactively.
- Volunteer Service Overseas
Starting Your Own Nonprofit
If you think you’d like to start your own nonprofit, there is a lot to know. The following two resources are a great place to start:
To learn all about the world of running and managing a nonprofit entity, check out The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Once you have a solid idea for your nonprofit and have conducted a needs assessment, the UW law school may be able to help you take the next steps with its Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic
Finally it is a good idea to connect with organizations like YNPN where you can connect with other young people who have devoted their lives to serving the greater good.
If you are looking to break into the world of nonprofits, the most important thing you can do is to start building your network. Although some entry level nonprofit positions do get posted to the internet, the vast majority are filled by 1) Promoting a volunteer to employee status 2) Receiving a referral from a friend or colleague in the field 3) Pure serendipity (ie you called and asked or emailed on the right day).
This blog post gives some good tips and tricks for networking your way to your future in nonprofits: Smarter Nonprofit Networking: Building A Professional Network That Works for You
Young Nonprofit Professionals Network – is committed to providing the investment needed to help young nonprofit professionals be successful in the nonprofit sector. This is a fantastic way for students to meet and network with young professionals in the nonprofit community
Association of Fundraising Professionals – Develops fundraising professionals, advances the profession, and inspires a culture of philanthropy in our communities.
Resources Specific to Madison and Wisconsin
Nonprofit Career Development & Resume Guidance
I want to make my career in nonprofits, but I haven’t had a lot of professional work experience
- Highlight your time in college – a class project or independent study can make a great resume entry
- Any volunteering and student org involvement you had – paid or unpaid – is relevant
- Think of all the different skill sets you have developed as a busy student. You’ve researched and written reports, you’ve worked in labs and followed different laboratory protocols, you’ve joined student organizations, you’ve planned events
Career Development Guides
- Personal branding
- Finding a mentor
- Career paths in the social-impact sector
- Continuing education, Part I: Graduate school
- Continuing education, Part II: Alternatives to graduate school
- Public service fellowships | Are they a fit for you?
Developing your resume for a job in nonprofits or education
To market your unique skills for nonprofit or education careers and internships consider the following:
- What are your strengths in the following key areas: people, resources, information, and systems
- How are your skills from being an undergraduate student transferable?
- When developing your resume, use the language of the industry and from the job description of the job for which you are applying
Below is a matrix that you can use to assess how your skills match a job description you are interested in applying for. Use this format as a way of mapping out your “transferable skills” or your strengths, abilities, & accomplishments as a way of ensuring you are able to make the connection from what you have already done to the skills described in the job description.
Whenever possible, present your accomplishments in numerical terms, using percentages, monetary amounts, and numbers of clients served. Numbers jump off the page and help an overwhelmed potential employersee your worth quickly and quantifiably.
You’ll find some great examples in this blog post on the Four Elements of a Tailored Resume
|Skills (acquired through previous volunteer or paid work or class projects)||What did you do? (specifics)||How did you do it? (what skill sets did you use?)||Why did you do it? (what was the broader purpose?)||What were the results? (quantifiable)|
For resume and cover letter samples visit our Resume and Cover Letter page
Also see a Sample Resume you can use for a nonprofit job or internship
Americorps and Peace Corps Service (specialized information)
Both Americorps and Peace Corps offer you an opportunity to: “Ask not what your country can do for you…”
Americorps as a stand alone program was created in 1993 when the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) was established to connect Americans of all ages and backgrounds with opportunities to give back to their communities and their nation. It merged the work and staffs of two predecessor agencies, ACTION and the Commission on National and Community Service. Today CNCS serves millions of individuals of all ages and backgrounds help meet local needs through a wide array of service opportunities. These include projects in six priority areas: disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families.
Americorps is comprised of three different programs that college students typically participate in: Vista, State/National (Network), and the NCCC
Service in Vista can best be explained as “indirect service” to clients. This means that the skills you learn to use in a Vista internship are ideal to prepare you to manage a nonprofit or government agency in the future, but that you will seldom (if ever) actually work with the population you are helping. It’s the concept of capacity building which includes things like grant writing, fundraising, volunteer management, etc. Search for opportunities here.
Additionally, Vista alums who complete the full year of service receive one year of Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) for Federal jobs following completion of their program. Click here to learn how this works. You can also view the Vista Job Board to get an idea of the kinds of positions available to Vista Eligible candidates in the federal government.
Service in S/N programs can best be explained as “direct service” to clients. Unlike Vista, here you will typically work directly with the population your agency/nonprofit is serving. Common roles include tutoring, event execution, etc. Search for opportunities here.
AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, residential, team-based program for young adults, age 18-24. Members develop leadership skills and strengthen communities by completing service projects and gaining life experience. Teams, comprised of 8-10 members, complete multiple projects that address essential community needs throughout the United States. During the 10-month service term, members receive lodging, transportation, uniform, and meals. Upon the completion of the program, members are eligible to receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award equal to the maximum Pell Grant amount. NCCC also includes FEMACorps and several stand-alone programs like City Year.
The Peace Corps was established by an Executive Order issued by President John F. Kennedy on March 1, 1961 which was followed up on 3/2/61 by Kennedy’s famous “Ask not…” speech. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have gone on to achieve extraordinary success in all kinds of fields. Some, inspired by their service, stay in education or health-related professions, or choose to join the Foreign Service. Others pursue careers in business, from entrepreneurial startups to management at major companies. The alumni network is huge and can be a real benefit when you are searching for the first post-service job.
Unlike many years ago, Peace Corps volunteers are no longer sent “wherever” with no say in their placement (unless they choose this option), but instead can select a specific program, project, or country to serve with. Some common questions and benefits of Peace Corps service are listed below.
- Is Peace Corps Service Right for You?
- Financial Incentives Linked to Service – Financial assistance is available to returned Peace Corps Volunteers at more than 90 partner schools in a wide range of disciplines through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program. All fellows complete internships in under-served American communities, allowing them to bring home, and expand upon, the skills they learned as Volunteers. If accepted, up to 33% of your graduation tuition may be paid. A complete list of partner schools can be found here
- Federal Job Benefits Linked to Service – Like Americorps Vista alums, Peace Corps alums who complete the full 2 years of service receive Non-Competitive Eligibility for Federal jobs for one year following completion of their program. Click here to learn more. You can view opportunities (Federal and NGO) for returned Peace Corps Volunteers on their Career Link.
- UW Campus Peace Corps Representative – Visit with a returned Peace Corps volunteer who can assist you with your application, site selection, and more. Many events and opportunities are offered throughout the year. You will find them listed on the page.
- UW’s Peace Corps Recruitment Ranking – Simply put: WE’RE #1!!!!!
Taking a Gap Year Before Graduate School
Read this before you commit to a gap year program that requires you to pay them for the experience – They’re not all bad but be cautious
Gap Programs Popular with UW Students
Student Conservation Association – The SCA is a fantastic organization that motivates and deploys thousands of young people who care passionately about improving the natural world. They intern in national parks and public lands and urban green spaces to make improvements and learn conservation and sustainability practices. They learn how to plan, enact, and lead, all while making a tangible impact in conservation. There is a one-time $25 application fee to join the corps, but once you pay that fee, you can apply to do as many SCA programs as you wish throughout your lifetime.
St Joseph Worker Program – The St. Joseph Worker Program creates a year-long service opportunity for women in preparation for a life-long commitment to social change and personal transformation. Individual growth and development is built on the values of leadership, spirituality, social justice and intentional community grounded in living simply and sustainably.
Cool Works – Not technically a gap year program, however if you have skills or interests in certain areas (skiing, scuba, mountaineering, etc…) you may find a “cool” way to spend a gap year here
WWOOF -Want to live and learn on organic farms worldwide? Want to share your life with other like-minded people? WWOOF is a worldwide movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange, thereby helping to build a sustainable, global community. As a volunteer (or WWOOFer as we call them) you will live alongside your host helping with daily tasks and experiencing life as a farmer.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) – The CNCS is a federal entity that helps more than 5 million Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through service and sponsors the following programs (among many others). Most of these programs last a year or longer:
- AmeriCorps – Vista, State/National, and NCCC Programs
- Teach for America
- City Year
- Public Allies
- College Possible
- National Health Corps
PDFs With Lists of and Info About Gap Year Programs
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Educational Opportunities in K-12 & Higher Ed (for non-Education majors)
This section contains four areas:
- Alternative Methods of Entry to Traditional K-12 Teaching
- International Schools
- Careers in Higher Education – Nationwide
- Working for the UW and the UW System
1) ALTERNATIVE METHODS OF ENTRY TO TRADITIONAL K-12 TEACHING
Maybe you didn’t major in Education, but are now wishing you had, or, you are looking to utilize your major in a classroom setting but aren’t licensed to teach. The links below can give you guidance about where to start.
Advice from the NEA – National Education Association
General Information about pursuing teaching when it wasn’t your undergraduate degree including licensing requirements by state
UW Madison’s School of Education – The School of Education offers master’s degree teacher certification programs in Secondary Education and Special Education. In other teacher education programs. Individuals with a previous degree will earn either a second degree or teacher certification only. There is also a Masters in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis which can enable graduates to move on to careers as principals, deans, policy analysts, etc..
Cardinal Stritch – Master of Arts in Teaching programs
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) – The CNCS is a federal entity that helps more than 5 million Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through service and sponsors the following programs (among many others)
- Teach for America – Nationwide 2 year program leading to full teacher certification, TFA features a diverse network of leaders who confront educational inequity through teaching, and work with unwavering commitment from every sector of society to create a nation free from this injustice.
- City Year – Our whole school, whole child approach is based around a group of carefully selected, highly trained young adults – our AmeriCorps members – who provide individualized support to at-risk students, while also establishing an overall positive learning environment in the schools throughout America that need us the most.
- College Possible – Serve with College Possible, a growing nonprofit that makes college admission and success possible for low-income students.
- Match Corps – A one-year urban education fellowship. Recent college graduates from top universities across the country commit a year to closing the achievement gap in Boston, one student at a time.
- AmeriCorps – Vista, State/National, and NCCC Programs in a wide range of areas including some related to teaching and education
AUSL Chicago – AUSL creates schools of excellence by developing highly effective teachers and transforming educational outcomes for students in the lowest performing schools
TNTP Teaching Fellows – Similar to Teach for America but not affiliated with CNCS, this program focuses on some of America’s toughest cities/states and offers programs in Baltimore, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Nevada.
2) Working in International Schools
What is an International School? – International schools come in many different shapes and sizes and the term itself, includes a variety of school systems encompassing a wide variety of formats and curricula, with some being more international than others. In order to be considered an actual international school, it is widely agreed that a school generally follows a national or international curriculum different from that of the host country. Additionally, an emphasis is placed on international education (with such programs as the IB) and global citizenship.
Understanding International Schools – Teachers who are interested in teaching overseas for the first time will find it easier to teach in the curriculum for which they already have experience (i.e. American, British, etc.), but with experience and training, teachers will find that they are qualified to teach in a variety of formats. The following provides a sampling of the most common types of international schools worldwide
- The International Educator – The online resource for teaching in International Schools
- How to Get a Teaching Job Abroad from International Schools Services
- The Council of International Schools Job Listings
- The TES Job Board
- ISS Job Board
3) CAREERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION – Nationwide
You loved being a Badger. You love the whole environment of higher education. You know you aren’t going to be a professor and you can’t be a student forever, but what else is there? The links below will lead you to sites where you can find staff jobs (such as academic advising, housing, admissions, etc..) in colleges and universities nationwide.
Higher Ed Jobs – staff and faculty positions in colleges and universities nationwide
The Chronicle of Higher Education – staff and faculty positions in colleges and universities nationwide
Academic 360 – staff and faculty positions in colleges and universities nationwide
Student Personal Association – Collaboration, networking, and professional development for current and aspiring higher education professionals in the Madison-area
Student Affairs Mentoring Program (SAM) – A program sponsored by the SPA that can connect you to a student affairs professional on campus to learn about careers in higher ed
Oshkosh Placement Exchange – You will find mostly residence hall positions at OPE, but a number of schools are also looking for people to work with Student Activities, Greek Affairs, and Leadership Development. There is always a mix of bachelor level, graduate assistanceships and post-masters positions
4) WORKING FOR THE UW, THE UW SYSTEM & THE UW COLLEGES
Jobs at UW – Work right here on the UW campus
University of Wisconsin System Jobs – Employment links for all of the UW System universities
UW College Jobs – Employment links for any of the 2 year UW schools
Full list of Universities in the state of Wisconsin (Including tech schools; search pages for job postings)
Resources for Teaching English Abroad
RESOURCES FOR TEACHING ENGLISH ABROAD
As the world continues its rush to learn English, still the lingua franca of international commerce, diplomacy, and higher education, the bulk of teaching opportunities abroad continue to be for those who teach English. Your primary “credential” is simply being a native speaker of the English language. A bachelor’s degree is usually required. Some formal ESL training, whether in TEFL or TESOL certificate, is almost always a plus and in some cases a prerequisite if you have no previous experience. Candidates with advanced training and either a certificate in ESL or a master’s degree in TESOL will have greater flexibility and command more pay. The ability to teach ESL may be all you need to obtain a job and a work permit in various countries across Asia and Latin America, and many other English teaching jobs exist in other desirable regions of the globe. The following resources should help you in your search for a great opportunity (listed in no special order).
Top Five Countries to Teach English Abroad (if you need money) – and who doesn’t?!
WESLI – Wisconsin English as a Second Language Institute
UW Madison TESOL Certificate for undergrads and grad students
Teach for All – Worldwide teaching opportunities in many countries
TEFL International – Fully accredited 4 week TEFL certificate program
Graduate School Considerations
MyPlan – Investigate the costs, the campus, the student makeup, etc…at this helpful website
Jobs & Internships on Handshake
Set up your profile in Handshake to take care of everything you need to explore career events, manage your campus interviews and apply to jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers around the country.
Check out these courses
CRITICAL ASPECTS OF TEACHING, SCHOOLING, AND EDUCATION
This course investigates aspects of social justice and equity as they relate to teaching, schooling, and education.
INTRODUCTION TO EDUCATIONAL POLICY
Examines education policy debates, policy processes, and school governance with attention to the multiple and sometimes conflicting goals that animate education debates; discourses and representations of schools, teachers and students that shape policy and politics; research on education and education policy outcomes and implementation; and key lenses and conceptual tools that can help us understand education policy. Course materials include original policy texts, empirical and conceptual research, and film. While the focus is on K-12 education in the United States, students will have the opportunity to consider early childhood education and higher education as well as education in historical and global contexts.
SO YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD
Students talk about wanting to make a difference – to change the world in some way. This course, especially designed for freshmen, helps students examine their ideas and values related to making a difference, teaches them to think critically about the meaning and methods of changing the world, and challenges them to integrate thoughtful evidence with their values and beliefs about doing good in the world. With a focus on the profession of social work and other helping professions, the course will consider a variety of social problems, and investigate and critique various approaches to creating change to improve social problems