Nonprofit & Advocacy

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People interested in careers in Nonprofits, Human Services, and Social Justice are passionate about helping others and creating positive social change. Nonprofit organizations have a mission tied to a cause and are tax-exempt organizations that invest all funds back into the organization. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are nonprofits that work on behalf of a voluntary group of citizens to create local, national, or international change; they may be partially funded by, but are not regulated by, the government.

Career Information

Just like any organization, nonprofit organizations need human resources, finance, accounting, marketing, and technology support. Beyond these typical roles, nonprofits often have unique needs that have to be met by employees, such as volunteer management, event planning, grant writing, and government relations. Consider what type of role may be a good fit for you and how you can not only gain experience in the nonprofit, human services, and social justice sector, but also gain competencies for the particular job role you would like to pursue.


Job Titles & Descriptions

O*NET, a free online database, provides career information including job duties, salary, and job growth information for hundreds of careers. This list of Nonprofit Job Titles provides descriptions to help you explore career options within the nonprofit sector.

Job Opportunities

Some graduates gain experience through organizations that offer short-term (1-2 year) service opportunities. Some programs include: Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, City Year, Teach For America, and Green Corps.

Below is a small sampling of organizations and their positions that have recruited CLA students in the past. For a more comprehensive list of job openings, search GoldPASS.

  • Americorps Promise Fellow, Minnesota Alliance With Youth
  • Residential Supervisor, ACR Homes
  • Counselor Technician, RS Eden
  • Team Leader, Feed My Starving Children
  • Housing Advocate, The Salvation Army
  • Development Trainee, Fraser
  • Bilingual Customer Service Coordinator, Prepare + Prosper
  • Youth Counselor, The Link
  • Marketing & Events Coordinator, Canvas Health
  • Case Manager, RESOURCE
Job Search Advice
  • Identify causes/the population of people you want to work with (examples: youth, heart disease, environment); this will help you narrow down what organizations to target in your job search.
  • Identify what type of role you are seeking (examples: volunteer management, marketing, research, grant writing, etc.) and reflect upon your past experiences and the skills needed to be a strong applicant.
  • In your application materials, emphasize why you care about the mission of the organization, as well as your service-related experiences.
  • Utilize contacts you know in the field for advice on job searching and for suggestions of contacts at other organizations in which you are interested.
Job Search, Professional Organizations & Networking Websites
Prepare for this Career Field

Seek out opportunities, such as those listed below, to develop the 10 core career competencies. Teamwork & Leadership, Engaging Diversity, and Active Citizenship & Community Engagement are especially valued in the Nonprofit, Human Services, & Social Justice Career field.

One of the best steps you can take to prepare for this field is to volunteer with nonprofit organizations. The Center for Community-Engaged Learning  has advising staff that will help you get connected to one of the 300+ community organizations that match your interests. HECUA is a program that offers off-campus study that addresses some of the most important issues of our time. Semester-long HECUA programs incorporate classroom studies, an internship, and field work.

Pursue Internships
For a comprehensive list of openings, search GoldPASS, a free database of internship, volunteer, and job postings for UMN students.

  • Events & Communications Intern, Arc Greater Twin Cities
  • Grant Writer Intern, Tubman
  • Cultural Inclusion Project Intern, Project for Pride in Living
  • Social Media Intern, Wayside House
  • Fellowship, Public Interest Research Group
  • Literacy Tutor, Minnesota Reading Corps
  • Education & Outreach Intern, National Marrow Donor Program
  • Human Resources Intern, Second Harvest Heartland
  • Advocacy Intern, Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota
  • Legal Assistant Intern, LegalCORPS
  • Research Intern, Minnesota Environmental Fund

Talk to Professionals
Networking can help you explore a career field; start by doing informational interviews with people who are in organizations that are of interest to you. Find professionals by utilizing the “professional networking” tab on GoldPASS, using the LinkedIn Alumni Tool, and getting connected to professional organizations.

Join a Student Group
Get involved with a Student Group, select “Service” as a category to find groups that match your interests.

Take Courses
There is not one major or minor that will prepare you for this field as there are many pathways into this profession. Examples of undergraduate and graduate coursework related to this field, these lists are not all-inclusive:

  • Undergrad Coursework: African American & African Studies; American Indian Studies; American Studies; Anthropology; Chicano & Latino Studies; Communication Studies; Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies; Global Studies; Philosophy; Political Science; Psychology; Religious Studies; Sociology; Comparative Race & Ethnicity; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Studies: Management (CSOM): Social Justice (CEHD): Leadership (CEHD): Youth Studies (CEHD)
  • Graduate Coursework: Counseling, Public Affairs, Psychology, Race & Ethnic Studies, Social Work, Sociology, Social Justice, Youth & Family Studies. To search for graduate school programs, go to
Advice From Employers

“Know your strengths and how they apply to the particular job in question.” -The Arc Greater Twin Cities, representative

“The jobs in the nonprofit sector do not typically match in compensation compared to the for-profit world. The person should have a passion for the clients that they serve in that particular non-profit. The work is exceptionally rewarding and gratifying, though, and each day a person can usually make a difference in the life of a client.” -International Institute of Minnesota, representative

"If there is an opportunity to start as a volunteer or intern, these are great ways to get your foot in the door and see if your values really do align with the nonprofit and how they run their organization.  Do you like the people working there?  These are also great ways for the staff to see how you do your work and you hear, directly, about the job openings.  There are many positions filled this way in the nonprofit world.” -International Institute of Minnesota, representative

“Volunteer! Or, seek out an internship with an organization or in a role you'd like to investigate. AmeriCorps positions are great starting points in nonprofit organizations. VISTA positions additionally offer an opportunity to build capacity, which is a great skill for a future nonprofit leader.”  -Project for Pride in Living (PPL), representative

“Nonprofits are a business with a mission - it is often misconstrued that you don't make money or can't make a decent living wage working for a non-profit. That is completely inaccurate.” -American Cancer Society, representative

“Volunteer and be able to share examples of how you can demonstrate key competencies such as adaptability, relationship building, result driven.” - American Cancer Society, representative