5 Handy Tips to Landing an Internship for Social Good

You’ve got to hand it to our generation of budding do-gooders.  Despite landing in an especially bleak economy, they have continued to prioritize social good in their professional paths – in addition to that paycheck. Given our opportunistic take on issues that matter, it’s no surprise that we value the same in future employers. It’s not rocket science, but getting started with a nonprofit or social enterprise can is a challenge, given the smaller operations budgets and staff sizes and the growing competition for cause-based work. The path to involvement is often undefined, and opportunities often come via word-of-mouth. To ensure your foot is positioned to launch into the field of social good, use these simple but unconventional tactics. Of course, these tips are handy for any sort of internship or job you’re pursuing, but they’re helpful especially for breaking into this sector because of its somewhat less-than-traditional recruitment and hiring styles.

Start talking, and not just online. We all know that Twitter and other online networks are great tools to get your name out to the people you’re hoping to catch the attention of; but taking the extra step to introduce yourself offline, through informational coffee meetings or phone interviews are invaluable when your resume shows up in a hiring manager’s inbox. Use tact when requesting these meetings; an email of introduction is typically the most appropriate way to begin the conversation with someone you’ve never directly corresponded with.

Know who to follow. Obviously the power of online social networks cannot be dismissed, but to make sure you’re getting the most out of them – pay attention to who is getting your precious adds and follows. Make sure you’ré plugged in to more than just the people in charge of hiring; but also the events team for updates on what’s happening and the events they’re taking notice of. Look at who they are following for an idea of what sort of field expertise and style of consultant they might value.

Go to events. Informal socials and more formal gatherings are the nonprofit world’s equivalent of a career fair. This is the best chance you’ll get to make introductions, find out more about what organizations are up to, and make it known that your interests are aligned. Idealist.org lists local events and you can easily customize notification settings. The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network – New York chapter is also a great resource for local listings.

Volunteer. One of the best, and most simple ways to get an in with a nonprofit is to begin volunteering with them. Even just a few hours a week, once a day, or for various events gives you the opportunity to share your excitement for their work and demonstrate your capabilities.

Karina Briski has been in the world of 9-5′s for nearly two years and has taken numerous internships with nonprofits and small social enterprises in her off-hours to keep the creative juices flowing. She’s in the process of moving from Seattle to New York City this month to put her intern skills to the real test. She also writes a bunch about anything that comes to mind, and her work can be found in various corners of the web, including on a blog that she sometimes forgets about updating. She shares most of her important news via Twitter


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