College students seeking internships often initially dismiss nonprofit organizations in lieu of large, for-profit companies. However, the nonprofit sector offers students an invaluable learning experience that not only broadens their horizons, but also gives them a chance to work for a good cause.
With more than 20 million college students in the United States, competition for securing internships with Fortune 500 companies and major consumer brands is fierce. But, there are plenty of nonprofit organizations doing great work that need talented, young minds too.
Nonprofits offer a unique professional experience; they provide a good or service to support an underserved cause while often working with minimal staff and limited resources. In order for nonprofits to succeed, they need volunteers, donations, a focused goal and the will to achieve that goal. These circumstances provide a multifaceted learning opportunity for college students eager to play an active role in the day to day success of an organization. Additionally, they are in for a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Here are four reasons why college students should add work with nonprofit organizations to their resume.
Because nonprofits find success when the entire team contributes to the end goal, interns are usually responsible for activities that support the organization’s goals rather than trivial tasks.
The operating structure of most nonprofits also allows for some cross functionality in roles among staff and interns. An intern could be brought on to do social media but given the aforementioned nature of nonprofits, may also have the opportunity to dabble in grant writing, program management or donor relations. At nonprofits, dipping your hands in different pots is both acceptable and encouraged – which isn’t always the case in corporate culture. Nonprofits provide college students the opportunity to get hands on experience, explore new avenues and learn what their strengths and weaknesses are. This experience alone could open up a new world of possibilities for the future.
With limited resources, collaboration is critical to a nonprofit’s success.
Team members must support each other and equally contribute to the work being done. This goes for interns, too. Nonprofits encourage collaboration and often empower interns to share ideas and suggestions just like everyone else because voice is heard when there’s a small idea pool. Within Camp Corral, every thought and idea counts! A fresh perspective is also appreciated. For a young college student striving to find their voice, most nonprofits are great places to practice idea sharing and become comfortable with speaking up as a vital member of a team.
Interns at large, for-profit corporations typically don’t get the chance to interact with higher level, C-suite executives.
but at a nonprofit, the distance between the two roles is not as great. Due to the aforementioned operating structure of most nonprofits, more often than not interns will work with and/or report to other team members in some capacity during their time within the organization meaning they’ll get solid facetime with team members at every level. At Camp Corral this is especially true, with such a small team it’s imperative that we all work together to achieve our goals and as a result, we spend a lot of quality time together.
There is no better feeling than supporting an important cause because every step forward feels like a win.
The long nights and early, caffeinated mornings are totally worth it when you’re able to see the impact your work has on others. Interns at nonprofits will work on projects that are key to the organization’s mission and they will likely have the chance to see them come full circle, which isn’t always a reality during a semester long internship at a larger corporation.
Most students aren’t completely sure what they want to do for a living when they enter college, but they have a world of opportunities available to help them figure it out, internships making up a host of these opportunities. College years are the best time to explore various career paths and as much as it is about learning a major, it is about a student learning their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes and challenging themselves to grow beyond their comfort zone. It’s also the time to develop professionally. An internship at a nonprofit provides the chance to do all of these things as well as take away many valuable tools and relationships, all while doing good for the world.
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Written by Mary Beth Hernandez
Read more posts by Mary Beth Hernandez