Life After Guilford: Non-profit fair a profitable experience

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Life After Guilford: Non-profit fair a profitable experience

Meg Holden

Meg Holden

Meg Holden

It is a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in March. The sky is a cloudless blue, music is playing on Founders patio and the aromas of French fries, pork loins and vegan chik’n wraps entice students into the dining hall.

In Alumni Gym, however, a different scene is unfolding. Inside, away from the laid-back atmosphere of the quad, well-dressed students mingle with representatives from non-profit organizations from around the state. The North Carolina Career Consortium Non-Profit Fair is underway.

According to Director of the Career Development Center Alan Mueller, the annual non-profit fair is a collaborative effort by the career centers of Bennett College, Greensboro College, Guilford, High Point University, and Salem College. The spring non-profit fair supports the centers’ mission of helping students find volunteer opportunities, internships and careers.

“The non-profit industry is growing every day, but the individual agencies are struggling,” said Mueller.

“One of the fastest-growing sectors of the American economy is non-profit work,” said Eric Melniczek, director of career and internship services at High Point University. “In the Piedmont Triad area alone, there are hundreds of non-profits.”

Because there are so many non-profits in the area, there is a high need for volunteers and interns. The work experience gained from working with a non-profit will be valuable in any career.

“You will gain a skill set (from working at a non-profit) that you might not get from working at a larger institution,” said Melniczek.

“There are opportunities in finance, fund raising, human resources, recruitment, event programming … It’s a real-world opportunity to build skills in a work setting.”

The students present at this year’s non-profit fair certainly hoped that they might be able to benefit from working or volunteering at a non-profit. First-year CCE student Rena Davis, who has over 15 years experience in property management, came to the fair looking for volunteer opportunities that might lead to a new career.

“I want to spend some time volunteering at a non-profit,” said Davis. “If I find somewhere I can volunteer, I might be able to get my foot in the door so that later I can find a position where I can use my degree.”

Senior Sarah Schardt’s search for an internship led her to the non-profit fair.

“I am especially drawn to non-profits because of the work they do,” said Schardt. “There is a different goal (in non-profit work). There is more of an emphasis on community.”

Schardt believes that working with a non-profit is a good way to “get a job helping and participating in the community,” which Guilford students can relate to.

Mueller likewise supports working with a non-profit as a way to support Guilford’s core values.

“Working for money is fine, but helping other people and getting money for it is better, in my opinion,” Mueller said.

Doing work for a non-profit can be a great start to a career, but it might not be for everyone. Most of the organizations present at

Wednesday’s fair were looking for volunteers or interns, so if you are looking  for a full-time job, your search may not be quite over. And non-profit work is not for everyone.

“Non-profits are good to work for if you are highly motivated and care about the topic,” said Andrew Leon, the sustainable projects coordinator for Caldwell Green Commission in Caldwell County. “Personally, I feel like I am making a difference and directly influencing people.”

If you are more interested in the paycheck than the problem, non-profit work may not be for you. Non-profits are often understaffed and underfunded, requiring lots of effort for little initial reward.

However, if you are looking for a volunteer position, internship or job in a growing field, non-profit work may be the key to your life after Guilford, and job fairs are an easy way to find opportunities.

“It was great of Guilford to put this on, especially for seniors,” said Schardt. “Any chance to see what jobs are out there is great.”

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