By Mia Casey
Have you ever thought about using your degree and career to make a positive change in society? If so, looking at working for a socially-conscious company such as an NGO could be a great fit. If you want to know more about them, and what a career involving cause-based work could look like, read on!
What is a NGO
An NGO is a non-governmental organisation that is entirely not-for-profit – this means that the money they make through fundraising or other means goes directly to the cause they are advocating for, and not the organisation itself. This makes it a little different from a regular charity, as often-times money people donate to a charity may also be used to partially give back to the company creditors, stakeholders or owners.
NGO’s are often established around a particular cause or social movement. For example, Amnesty International Australia, the Red Cross and Oxfam are all NGO’s established to alleviate social injustices (such as poverty and inequality), while often promoting civil and social liberties (such as advocating for refugee rights). There are many different types of such organisations, both in Australia and around the world, so doing some research on what sort of organisation you could be interested in working for is definitely a smart move.
Why work for one?
While working for an NGO is not known for being a lucrative career path, it is entirely possible to forge a very successful career working for such socially conscious companies. Working in the not-for-profit sector offers a variety of different opportunities for growth and experience, and can provide more meaningful work with clearer positive outcomes than work that has a simple profit focus. Also unlike many industries, working for an NGO often does not require a specific area of expertise in terms of study or work experience, depending on where you want to work. Regardless of your degree – whether you have a communications, business, law or design degree – you can work at a not-for-profit organisation.
The main benefit touted by those who work in the sector is the personal satisfaction that comes from actively working to make positive change, rather than working to improve a company’s profit margins. Having clearly established outcomes to your work, and outcomes that have made people’s lives better in some way, is rewarding in ways many other workplaces may not be able to match. When your job allows you to work in an area you’re passionate about, then the likelihood of you enjoying what you do for a career is much higher.
In addition to this, many NGO’s operate on an international basis and therefore can provide work opportunities overseas. If your interest in making a difference with your career extends to completing hands-on work in third world countries, advocating for human rights in different cultural climates, or even working in an office providing social media promotion and support, there are opportunities available.
Working for an NGO often involves cultivating a number of skills and experiences not required for more traditional positions. Many such organisations often look for employees who have completed a variety of volunteer work and shown active interest in their mission. This means cultivating skills not commonly taught through traditional education – such as online advocacy, providing assistance to the less fortunate, or working with a vastly diverse group of people. Many industries may value these traits in their employers, but few actively look for them in quite the same way as NGO’s.
There are also many opportunities for continued learning throughout your work, as many NGO’s missions change and adapt to cultural, political and social climates. Learning how to work in an environment that requires flexible problem solving and active participation not only looks great on your resume, but can also be very rewarding.
Working for an NGO allows you to pursue an interest in social justice, gain a variety of skills-based experience, work with people from different backgrounds, and offers the potential for you to travel while also providing a meaningful way to make a difference with your career!
If you feel like working for a socially-conscious company but don’t know where to start then we can help!
As part of the Festival of Future You, UTS:Careers is working in conjunction with FASS to bring you an exciting opportunity to hear from various professionals from a number of socially-conscious companies such as Amnesty International Australia, GetUp, Youth Food Movement, and Oxfam. The event, So you want to work for a cause, not just a company aims to provide you with the insights and advice you need to find positive and meaningful work.
With so many opportunities available in such a competitive market, this event is a fantastic way to find out how you can get involved – make sure you log into CareerHub and register today so you don’t miss out!
Featured image courtesy of Pexels