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Is it possible to live comfortably while working in the volunteer industry?

I hope to serve others and volunteer as a career path. While I feel serving others is my calling, I don't exactly want to live in poverty. So, is it possible to live comfortably while also being able to serve others? In addition, is a career like that able to be balanced with a typical social life? #volunteer #nonprofit #money #career #social-work

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Melisa’s Answer

Hi Emma,

What a great question and I know many can benefit from you asking. Others who have answered made some great suggestions and information to consider.

In addition to looking at non-profit organizations, have you also thought about looking into careers and companies with positions in Corporate Social Responsibility? There are many organizations who have positions at their company, like mine for instance, that focus on community engagement, social good and encouraging employees to volunteer.

Also, by volunteering on your own or with a group for a variety of causes and organizations throughout the year, you may be introduced to others in both non-profit and corporate jobs who can share more information and give you solid advice as well.

Best wishes for success in your education and career goals.

business career connections success volunteering non-profit

Melisa recommends the following next steps:

Seek out a mentor or individual in a career that interests you and learn more about their job and ask if there is an event or organization, they volunteer for that you might be able to join and help with sometime.
Check out http://greatnonprofits.org to search for volunteer opportunities near you and hear what others have to say about their experiences. When volunteering, look for new connections to make.
Search for helpful online presentations or talks that discuss careers that focus on volunteerism.
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Katie’s Answer

Yes! I have worked in corporate philanthropy for over 10 plus years and manage volunteer projects regularly as part of the job. I've worked for companies in Finance and Retail.
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Ashley Brooke’s Answer

Absolutely! Nonprofits are businesses just like any other business, they have to pay their employees to retain talent and effective programs. Typically "volunteer" refers to doing work without compensation, which would be a challenge to make a career out of without having other financial income. However you can make a career of serving others by working in a nonprofit or community setting (schools, local government, place of worship, etc.).


If you are looking for a way to jumpstart a career in this field I highly suggest considering a year of national service with AmeriCorps. This program provides an opportunity to serve as a full time volunteer for a year, receive a stipend, and an education award that can be used to pay for future college or students loans. Doing a program like this can help you build skills and experiences that make you hire-able/desirable to nonprofits. It can also help you identify potential jobs and what you enjoy doing. You can learn more by visiting www.joinamericorps.gov

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Alysea’s Answer

Geography factors into cost of living, so consider that when presented with your salary. You could also consider a job in higher education student services. Most universities have a community services office. And higher education may afford you some solid benefits and salary.
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Ken’s Answer


Getting to know yourself and how your personality traits relate to people involved in various career opportunities is very important in your decision making process. During my many years in Human Resources and College Recruiting, I ran across too many students who had skipped this very important step and ended up in a job situation which for which they were not well suited. Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. First you have to be properly fitted for the correct size, and then you need to try on and walk in the various shoe options to determine which is fits the best and is most comfortable for you to wear. Following are some important steps which I developed during my career which have been helpful to many .

Ken recommends the following next steps:

The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.
Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##
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