Alumni Interview: Working for a Non-Profit

February 11, 2008

When entering the ‘real’ world you have several different avenues offered to you. First you could go into the private sector (big business, corporations, privately owned businesses), the public sector (government), or the non-profit sector. Many of the students at the College of Charleston are seeing the non-profit world as a place where they want to work in the future. Not only can you work in a variety of different venues but you have the potential to help someone along the way. To give you more information about what working in the non-profit sector is Marissa Hockenberry, an alumnus of the College of Charleston. If you have any further questions for Ms. Hockenberry please log into your CISTERNonline account and check out the Mentor Network. We have several participating mentors, including Ms. Hockenberry, who would love to advise you about the non-profit sector.

1. Tell me a little bit about your current position.
Channel Development Specialist works with grocery chains, independents, cafes & distributors to ensure as many Fair Trade Certified products are on the shelves & available for consumers to purchase. Help with employee education and create presentations to enable the Fair Trade message to be easily spread to others and lived everyday. Coordination with various internal departments is key to successful implementation of promotional programs.

2. What was the appeal to working in a non-profit organization? I wanted to work for a company that is aligned with my ideals, where I would be able to showcase my talents, where my work would make a difference to the organization and the world at large.

3. Have you worked in a for-profit position and, if so, how does your current work differ from that? I worked in the for-profit sector for 10 years previously. The last 3 years were at an international for-profit company. I found I was not able to make changes or implement sustainable business practices because there were too many people in the organization with only the bottom line in mind. Although good intentions were there, so too were many roadblocks.

4. What advice would you give to a student who wanted to work in the non-profit sector? If that is what your heart is telling you to do, then you should. It can be daunting because the non-profit world is known to not pay well, but it’s worth it when you can leave the office with a smile on your face knowing that what you’ve done that day has helped someone/thing else. The non-profit world is challenging but rewards more.

5. Any other comments or advice? Research the company you are considering; if possible, do an internship with them to get the feel of the internal structure. Be open to change and challenge.

You can make a comment below about working in non-profit or you can log into CISTERNonline to talk more in depth with Ms. Hockenberry.



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