Careers in NGOs

Many of us had those childhood dreams of saving the world. However as we grew up these dreams slowly faded away. Caught up  in chasing more ambitious dreams, these were sidelined. However for those of us a little less informed a career in an NGO may be just as promising and of course there can be nothing more rewarding in terms of personal contentment. Cause gone are the days when NGOs were represented by bearded men carrying “jholas” and collecting funds. The new generation of NGOs have an increasing number of young , talented corporate professionals representing them.

G Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive, Amnesty International, India said, “In an aspirational era exploding with diverse career opportunities and choices, more youngsters today are seeking opportunities where they can earn and build a career, one where they can balance work-life priorities, where they feel that they matter and can make a difference.” He added that these individuals proactively and consciously, choose to shun the rat-race and make for a more holistic life with a career in non-profit organizations.

More and young professionals – having achieved early success in their corporate careers – experience the urge to do more. They are seeking to do something meaningful with their lives – a purpose, or a means to give back to society. A decade ago this might have been constrained to merely financially supporting their favourite charity. But today, they have more opportunity to take a more ‘hands-on’ approach. These professionals measure their return on investments in terms of their impact on society.

Ok now apart from work satisfaction there is a lot of scope for skill acquisition. NGOs  will add colour to your personality. For example, you’ll improve greatly on your networking abilities and your organizational skill set. You’ll work with people from several different backgrounds who are united in their passion for a particular cause.

Every NGO has certain limitations, especially in regard to things like funding or resource availability. These organizations have just a limited amount of resources to spend on creating an impact. Teach us how to make the maximum impact with limited resources.Basically you learn to think out of the box.

The ability to come up with unconventional solutions to common issues is a skill that every consulting firm values.

Also, if you’re working with an NGO that focuses on a specific problem, which most of them do, you will develop a high degree of expertise in a new field, which can often be a great asset with consulting work.

When you’re coming from an NGO background, potential employers will see that you were willing to accept a more modest level of pay in order to work for the greater good.

Non-profit work also adds a lot of flavor to the personality of your resume, which really stands out during the application process.

Your ability to care about things aside from books and high salaries is very appealing to consulting firms.

Now some other things to remember. An NGO may not be able to match up with corporate houses in terms of their paychecks. But with an increasing inflow of cash towards developmental and societal causes, this situation too is changing.  Be prepared to begin right from the scratch. Volunteering on a weekly basis may be a good way to begin. And of course you need the right spirit and a genuine willingness to serve a greater cause.

So now that if you are aware of the terms and conditions of working for an NGO, you might as well accept or reject it.Its all about what you prioritise more in your life.

Swagata Dutta

I am a college student who writes as a hobby....

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