By, Patricia Brehm
To all the young professionals, congratulations! You’ve taken the next step in your life, graduated college, found or are trying to find a job, and trekking firmly towards independence. In the past, you’ve sat through impassioned speeches about how people are changing the world and how you’re next. Then the dust settles and the reality hits that right now you’re focused on building a career and a life for yourself. So how do you make a world-changing impact with an entry level salary?
Make Caring Your Career
Feel a strong need to help others? You can find a career working to help others. A good place to begin is Idealist.org. A great place to find work with non-for-profits and gain the inside scoop on different organizations. Take steps by reaching out to professionals who work for causes you’re interested in. Email, call, set up an informational interview. Many times you’ll be surprised at who’s willing to help you find your dream career, especially when they know you want to make a difference.
Intern with a Purpose
Maybe you haven’t found the dream job yet or you’ve been released out into the wilds of the unknown job market. Interning opens up a whole new avenue for you to build skills while you job search. During my stint as an unemployed college graduate, interning allowed me to continue building valuable skills while searching for a job.
“But wait,” you say, “I need a job that pays!” An internship won’t necessarily hinder your job search. If you work through it the right way, you schedule your job search around your internship time. Think about this, you have two options.
1) Go in for job interviews explaining what you used to do and how you’ve been actively looking for a job in the meantime
2)You can pull from very recent experience about how you’ve been proactive in helping another organization and making a difference in your community.
Which sounds better to you?
Volunteer to Expand Your Career Skills
If you haven’t read the article already, I highly recommend reading Chris Furyua’s article on the impact volunteering can have in gaining employment. I’d also like to add that volunteering can be a great way for currently employed professionals to gain an entirely new skill set. Are you a writer? Take up grant writing! Graphic designer? Why not help build a website or work with organizations on their brandings. Are you great with math or science? Find a great resource for finding volunteer opportunities such as United Way. Don’t think volunteering works? Take a look these business innovators who worked with the Peace Corps.
If you have years of experience in a certain industry, I highly recommend the Taproot Foundation. If you have the experience, they’ll match you up with an organization or company working to make a difference. Not only do you get to gain experience, but you also gain the chance to network with other professionals as well.
Be an Empathetic Entrepreneur
Building a brand and making a difference can go hand in hand. Some brands work to make a difference such as David Melton’s Sacred Power. INC.com has great articles on a variety of individuals who make a business out of caring such as their list of individuals who are making a profit by going green.
When All Else Fails, Donate
When life and everything else gets in your way, just take time to donate. You’d be surprised at how much one small donation, even from an entry-level worker can make a difference. A great example is the Hilde Back Fund. The story of the fund starts in the 1970s, when one Swedish pre-school teacher, Hilde Back, decided to help fund a Kenyan student’s education. You can learn more about the Hilde Back Fundby going to their website or viewing the documentary, “One Small Act.”
It’s Not Rocket Science
Changing the world doesn’t have to be hard. Just figure out what method works for YOU and move forward. Remember that just because you might be on the bottom rung of a company, doesn’t mean you can’t be the top force in changing someone else’s life.