October 24, 2013

Seniors: We're here to help!

by Peggy Chang and Jim Amspacher

Peggy Chang and Jim Amspacher are the coordinators of the Careers in the Common Good initiative at Brown. Peggy is the Director of the Curricular Resource Center (CRC) and Jim is a CareerLAB Career Advisor. Brown recently ranked the #5 university (and #1 Ivy) in the country for the number of alumni working in public service. 

“Am I doing something wrong?”

“Should I be applying for these jobs, too?”

“What should I be doing now if I want a job working for a nonprofit or in public service after graduation?”

These are some of the questions the CareerLAB’s advisors hear each fall -- during the sometimes frenetic on campus recruitment season -- from students, especially seniors, considering a first job working under the broad umbrella of “Careers in the Common Good.”

Everyone will have a different answer to these questions. If you haven’t already, schedule an appointment with any of the CareerLAB’s advisors to begin to reflect on your job search goals and craft a plan of action.

Many have said that it can be stressful to hear stories from their friends about how they are participating in the on-campus recruiting process and sometimes getting job offers by the end of fall semester.

While some big nonprofits and government agencies like Teach for America, City Year, Peace Corps, the Department of State, and education and activist groups recruit on campus, most nonprofits don’t have the resources to send a recruiter or to hire cohorts of recent college graduates. For the most part, these jobs won’t come to you here on campus; you’ll have to find them through research and networking.  Job openings typically do not follow our academic calendar.

If you’re not interested in the big nonprofits or the companies recruiting in the finance, consulting and tech industries, your job search will require your initiative, persistence, and ongoing self-reflection.

Only you know what your ideals and priorities are, though you may not be clear on these just yet. Take some time during an afternoon over the weekend or during a school break to write down your response to these questions:

  • What experiences or issues have been important to you during college?  What do you think about the possibility of engaging with similar issues in a job or career?
  • What are you becoming good at doing -- in the classroom, a student group, a community-based organization, etc.?
  • What skills would you like to learn or develop further during the next 1-3 years?
  • How do you define social justice or positive social change? Which organizations or people are tackling the problems you care about and use an approach that you think is effective?
  • Have you researched what some jobs in the fields you’re interested in look like?  Do you know what they pay, what kinds of benefits they may offer that are tangible and intangible?

If your struggling with these questions -- or if you have a pretty good idea of the answers and are ready to plunge into the search -- check out the Careers in the Common Good project and schedule an appointment with any of the CareerLAB’s advisors, or the CCG program advisors Peggy Chang and Amelia Grant-Alfieri ’15 in the CRC, to discuss your interests and make a personalized plan.

How did the Class of 2012 do at navigating this process? Almost 40% of them found first jobs working for non-profits, in social enterprises or in public service.