A rewarding and exciting career option is to join the social-impact industry. Volunteering or part-time work is one way to explore your options. Although it is not necessary to begin the job hunt, trying out a sector can help build your confidence, skills and network.
Volunteering or part-time work has many benefits
Assess your personal fit and interests
It can feel overwhelming to make a career change in a different sector. And it can be difficult to transition to a new job. It is easier to evaluate whether a job is a good match if it is part-time.
Volunteering at a community center, or canvassing for local politicians, can be a great way to get valuable experience if you are a data analyst and wish to move to a community organizer position. You can evaluate whether this work is right for you by assessing the pressure and time commitment.
Learn skills and gain experience
Volunteering or working part-time can give you the experience and skills that will help you in an interview or in a new position.
Even if your skills aren’t directly relevant to your role, hiring managers will still be attracted to your involvement in this sector. If you’re interested in working in a climate organization, and have experience in climate science, volunteer for a local composting club, or a grassroots political group. Many smaller organizations are open to new ideas and have a DIY approach. For example, you could start a climate research or education initiative on social media for community education presentations.
Establish a professional network
Collaboration with other people on a project can help to organically build new relationships with people already in the sector. Your coworkers will be able to connect you with opportunities by committing your time and actively communicating your desire to take on a full-time position. To express your interest in a career or learn more about other roles and careers, set up informational interviews
Finding part-time and volunteer opportunities
Connect to the communication channels of your organization
Follow organizations on social media and sign up for their newsletters. Idealist’s job listing can be used as inspiration. You can find hyperlocal organizations such as community gardens, community fridges and mutual assistance groups. Also, look for county-level organizations or committees.
Contact leaders and organizations directly
Volunteer or part-time positions may not be posted. Send an email, call or message the organization on social media to inquire about them.
To gain access to volunteer opportunities, you can use resources such as Taproot Foundation ,your community library, and community centers. These groups provide a network of skilled volunteers to help with immediate community issues.
You may be given more responsibility in smaller organizations for key initiatives. Be clear about your expectations and availability. Assign yourself tasks that have a clear start- and end date, if possible. If you don’t have the time or days to commit, indicate how much.
You can gain more confidence when switching sectors by trying out different industries and sectors through volunteer work, part-time jobs, or internships. It can be difficult to switch sectors. Experience in the job can help you decide if it is right for your career.