Policy Mic is an online multimedia news site that was launched in June. It enables young, ordinary people to engage in intelligent political debate (read more below) and it also takes on other social issues. A recent piece offers advice about working in the not-for-profit sector. Six contributors say that people wishing to get into not-for-profit work should first consider getting involved in different activities, such as fundraising, event management, and volunteering. They also advise potential recruits to bring in different professional skills from other areas, including from private industry. If you are a student, you can get involved in projects through your university or by contributing towards mentorship programs. This post includes advice from professionals in the not-for-profit sector, including how to get your foot in the door through an internship. I also discuss how Policy Mic might be a useful forum for publishing your research and boost your CV.
The Policy Mic contributors also discuss having different measures of success that are less about financial incentives and more about the rewards of working on
issues that matter at a personal level and which have real outcomes. Suzanne Ehlers from Population Action International writes:
NGOs have become centers of excellence in every regard — program, strategy, management, use of technology — and, while working at an NGO, you could be a part of this innovation curve.
In an earlier piece from Policy Mic, Anaam Butt reflected on her internship experiences. Her article would also be useful for anyone wishing to work in the not-for-profit sector. Amongst other things, Butt argues graduates should consider taking up an intership and to remember that social networks are an important way to find new work. (In sociology speak, this is Mark Granovetter’s strength of weak ties argument.) Butt writes:
My best advice is to be persistent and remain open-minded until you find the right opportunity. Do not close yourself off and think that you should avoid internships after graduation – sometimes companies hire interns. Also, do not forget to network! Tap into your past job or intern networks and catch up with old friends and colleagues to see what they are up to. Often times, opportunities present themselves through old connections.
Policy Mic might also be a good way to market your research findings and expertise so that your ideas contribute to public discussion. I would argue that it can only help your applied career to have some experience publishing in non-academic forums such as Policy Mic (or other media sites). The founders of Policy Mic say they have a core team of 300 writers from over 20 countries. The site seeks out new contributors for forum discussions and also for original articles. They describe their site in this way:
The more you respond to articles, share your ideas, and accumulate ‘mics’ from others, the more you’ll be able to do and say. As you accumulate enough mics to become a PolicyMic Pundit, you’ll be given the chance to develop an audience and debate your foes.
Finally, for our applied sociological needs, the Global section has featured various posts that might help to inform your work. For example, they have published articles on human trafficking, a discussion about the role of museums in cultural custodianship, and the role of international intervention in different regions. Their articles are varied, interesting, and worth checking out.
If you’re interested in working in the not-for-profit sector, check out Sharon Bond’s article in our journal Working Notes. Bond writes ‘Advice for Students Who Want to Work with NGOs. Melbourne, Australia‘.
If you have worked in the not-for-profit sector and you have any advice or experiences you’d like to share with the Sociology at Work network, please get in touch with Sociology at Work!