I Wanna Get Paid for This! 7 Step Plan Toward a Nonprofit Career

This past weekend I presented at the Minnesota OUT! Campus Conference. I have close ties to the Minnesota GLBTA Campus Alliance, the group that hosts the conference and many of the organizers were asking me about how I got involved with nonprofits and if I’d be willing to present to college and high school students about how to get engaged in the sector.

I hesitated at first, but the more I reflected on my process I realized that there were seven distinct steps I used in my process in getting engaged in the nonprofit sector.

Here they are:

1) Knowing You

What issues or topics get you most excited? What social issues are you most passionate about? When you think about solving those social problems, what kind of solutions get you so excited the hair on the back of your neck stands on end?

2) Campus Matters

What activities do I participate in on campus? How do they link with what I want to do? How do I leverage campus activities to gain experience in the area I want to work in?

3) Know who? : Your existing network

Who do you know that is leading a career in the sector you most admire? Who in your network can offer stories about their success? Who can you get together to ask questions about the field?

4) Knowing who? : Building your network

Who do you want to be in relationship with? Are there people that are leading careers that you admire but don’t necessarily know? Are there presenters, speakers, bloggers you want to have conversations with?

5) Volunteer

Get off campus. Get engaged with a nonprofit that is related to the work that really gets you passionate. The folks in #3 can probably help you find places to plug in. Once you’ve volunteered there for a while, ask for more responsibility to gain the skills you’d like to develop. Volunteer gigs can also help you meet the folks you thought of in #4.

6) Do your homework

This can include reading blogs and books, attending events or research topics relevant to your areas of interest. Doing your homework can also help you build your network and find places to plug into volunteer opportunities and internships.

7) Know Your Hang-ups

What are some of the things that stand in your way? What about this process makes you nervous or holds you back? Make a list of things that you feel may be holding you back, then map out some strategies. Knowing what holds you back can build your confidence.

If this is something a group you work with wants to explore more, send me an email FromOurPerspectiveBlog@gmail.com to schedule a workshop presentation of “I Wanna Get Paid for This! Building your Nonprofit Career”.

In the meantime, here’s a list of places to start with for “Doing Your Homework”

Buy the book, “How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar: 5o Ways to Accelerate Your career” by Trista Harris and Rosetta Thurman. Click the image to the right and buy the book right now!

Or do some poking around on any of these websites:

Blogs I love:





All things nonprofit in Minnesota:


Places to search for jobs and internships:



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