Factors to consider when thinking about a career within a charity:
Each section below gives you links to information on specific career areas – work activities, related professional bodies, employers/job search and other relevant information.
For many graduates, the ethos and culture of the charity sector, ‘third sector’ or the ‘not-for-profit sector’ are very attractive. Indeed, the scope for graduates working within the non-profit environment is enormous, encompassing a wide variety of roles within a diverse range of organisations. However, this should not be viewed as traditional graduate recruitment and a considerable amount of independent research is usually required, prior to finding a suitable opportunity, often through speculative enquiries.
Firstly, think about what you have to offer. Passion for the cause of the charity will always be a crucial factor but consider also the skills you can bring – most charities are interested in candidates who are strong communicators, creative, innovative, flexible, adaptable and able to work well with others. Although employees receive training, this is rarely part of a ‘graduate training scheme’ and most are expected to demonstrate skills and expertise, which make them ready to function quickly upon appointment to a role.
Consider the type of role you are interested in within the charity sector: job titles include Charity officer, Community education officer, Marketing executive, Public relations officer, Fundraising Officer, Social researcher, Volunteer coordinator and many more. Generally speaking, the majority of graduates will work initially within fundraising or administrative roles.
Candidates seeking work in the charity sector should not restrict their job search to formal ‘graduate schemes’ – these are few and far between. Nevertheless, the following organisations have offered graduate programmes recently:
Organisations such as Barnardos, Scope, Save the Children, Amnesty and the United Nations Association UK have offered schemes in previous years and are worth investigating.
Large charities, such as the National Trust, Oxfam GB, Macmillan Cancer Support, British Red Cross and Age UK, provide work placements and internships for students and graduates.
Volunteering with a local organisation or charity is equally valid experience and will give students an insight into the challenges and rewards of working in this sector.
Those with a proven work history within another sector and career changers with a strong portfolio of key skills are often attractive candidates for jobs in the third sector. However, if you are a final student or recent graduate, the following ideas may well boost your employability.