What a Year of Working in NGO Can Teach You

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If you have recently graduated from college, you are probably wondering, what now? First of all, congratulations, you should be proud of yourself. However, when all the hype, rest, and excitement passes, you will have to focus on the future and keep the momentum going. In most cases, it’s difficult to instantly land a paying job that matches your college degree.

It can also be very intimidating and uncomfortable making the switch from college to full-time employment. Chances are you’ve learned a lot while in college, but there are many things about work that simply aren’t learned there and you have to go through them and experience them in “the real world.”

Luckily, there are good options where you can learn these things and prepare yourself for the career that awaits you, while also growing as a human being – non-profit organizations. A single year of working in an NGO can teach you a lot and here are some of those things.

Being a team player

In college, everything is about you, your grades, and your issues. When you work for an NGO, this focus suddenly switches to something or someone else.

It’s about putting in the work to help others and do something meaningful rather than trying to score points for yourself. This can teach you to be unselfish and cooperate with others, even though you won’t be the one getting the main benefits of the work you do.

You will be working with a lot of different people of different age and different backgrounds who come from different places. At the same time, all of you will work on the same goals and this is what means being a team – setting aside your personal needs, likes, and dislikes. No matter what kind of organization we are talking about, it needs to have a team spirit to get great results.

Networking is important

One of the best things about NGOs is that they simply have a different atmosphere, culture, and environment than a classic for-profit organization. This is because everyone is there to do good, and they believe in the work they do. There is no pressure of having to make a profit and the main focus is on doing something meaningful that will help the environment or people.

In NGOs, almost everyone communicates with everybody else within the organization, so don’t be surprised if you meet your boss on the first day and spend a lot of time with them on a regular basis. This ability to communicate and interact with higher-ups can help you learn many new things and establish valuable connections that can literally “make it easy” to find new opportunities.

Unpaid labor surviving mode

Before accepting an unpaid opportunity in NGO, you have to carefully estimate your ability to survive the year. Cause you know that unpaid actually means, well, unpaid. Your experience will ineventually turn into hard cash any day soon, but for now consider advice and options to get the money and learn how to survive the year without a stable income:

Realizing the importance of good communication with your peers

All organizations, no matter if they are non-profit or for-profit, have their own goals, missions, messages, and visions that they are working towards. With all these differences, every organization needs to establish its own channels and methods of communication. This is so that coworkers can quickly and easily convey messages to each other, leading to a more efficient workflow.

Great internal communication within an organization makes everyone’s job easier, helps increase productivity, reduces the number of mistakes made, and creates a stronger brand.

By learning how important this is and finding ways to express yourself correctly in the shortest way possible, you’ll be able to save someone’s time and show that you are a team player. This is exactly what employers want today.

You will learn to take responsibility

Even though non-profit organizations aren’t essentially about making money, there are people with different positions, responsibilities, and levels of knowledge. There is room for progress, and if you prove yourself, you’ll be given the opportunity to take on a greater responsibility.

Since there is no financial pressure and the emphasis on making money, this kind of responsibility will come more easily.

You will learn what it means to be in charge of something and how your work reflects on the performance of the whole organization. At the same time, you might learn what the benefits of being a leader are, as well as its drawbacks. In the end, you will work hard and learn from experience what it means to actually contribute something through your work and make an impact.

Working for an NGO for a year can help you learn various practical skills and gain experience that you will need in the future. Who knows, you might love it so much that you pursue a career in this sector and get paid for helping people, there are many examples of people who did this.

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