Okay, so you’re a recent college grad with some marginally related internship experience working in the creative industry. You know you’ve got what it takes to deliver quality collateral on time, every time–if only the hiring managers at the jobs you applied to would believe in you. This is a common problem for recent graduates with not a whole lot of work experience under their belts and a small portfolio made up of more school related projects than actual projects for actual businesses. You’re talented. You’re eager. You’re hungry. You’re tired of looking for random gigs on Craigslist. What now?
There’s another group of people out there that don’t know who you are or what you do. They are in desperate need of some good collateral because the stuff that they’ve been working with the last year looks like it was designed by a sixth grader learning to use Microsoft Word for the first time. This group’s priority is to make money, but only as a means of providing more services to the underprivileged community that it serves. Introducing now… the local non-profit!
You two are a perfect match made for each other. If we ran you and the non-profit through the matchmaking algorithms of okCupid, you would be a match made in heaven. Working with a local non-profit is one of the best ways to get experience, exposure, and contribute to something meaningful.
If you’ve ever worked in a non-profit, you would know that they are extremely well connected to the local business community. Their boards are full of local business leaders and their fundraisers bring together a similar group of people who mix, mingle, and hobnob all for a good cause.
When you begin volunteering for a non-profit, make sure that you are going to be contributing your professional skills and services, not helping to stuff envelopes (a request I’m certain will come up at some point in time). It’s important that you’re getting as much work, experience and connections from the non-profit as they are getting from you. Be assertive, be confident in your professional abilities, and the pro-bono work will become paid work much quicker!
Here’s something I made for my favorite local non-profit, Working Wardrobes. This amazing group helps empower individuals and get them back to work with dignity.
Have you done any pro bono work lately? Are there other great ways to build your portfolio while doing good for the local community? Let us know in the comments.