Career Fair exposes non-profit possibilities

After a successful debut last year, the Nonprofit Career Fair is coming back to Portland State for a second round tomorrow with hopes of exceeding last year’s turnout.

Set to begin at 10 a.m. in the Smith Memorial’s third floor ballroom, the fair will be open until 4 p.m. at no cost to all who are interested in learning more about jobs and careers in non-profit organizations.

With just over 40 organizations from virtually every sector of the non-profit arena registered to attend, there is bound to be a source that is of interest to just about anybody who ventures through the event.

A sampling of that roster includes AmeriCorps, Friends of Honduras, Peace Corps, Mercy Corps, which is headquartered in Portland and many others, including locally based representatives. Last year’s event showcased 32 organizations with a turnout of nearly 700 attendees.

These sponsors hope to accomplish the task of revealing the very nature of non-profit work, which has as broad of a career spectrum as most any field of work, and also of making connections with prospective workers in a field that has become increasingly popular since the terrorist attacks reshaped many citizens’ values.

The non-profit sector has fared much better than corporations through the economic lull, which means many entry-level opportunities exist that can lead to life-long careers aimed at improving social conditions around the globe.

According to Dee Thompson, director of Portland State’s career center, this fair is appropriate for all grade levels and majors because of the array of opportunities it encompasses.

Underclassmen can get a more informed idea of what educational planning will aide in related careers, and those close to graduation can capitalize on the opportunity to network with potential employers.

Thompson also stressed that a common misconception is that degrees of study should correlate to one’s employment.

“Most graduates end up in employment where their majors have no relationship to their job titles,” Thompson said. “Often undergraduate degree holders in Sociology and Psychology feel unprepared for using those degrees in work without further education, but employers at this fair will be looking for those background skills as well.”

The driving force behind this year’s fair is a company out of New York called Idealist. Their purpose as a non-profit business is to promote careers in that particular field and to raise awareness of just how to go about preparing for those careers. Their Web site explains what preparations are desired by employers when looking to hire, which is at

There will be three or four separate “break out sessions” throughout the afternoon that will provide a narrower focus on certain aspects of the career field.

Beginning at 11 a.m. there will be discussions on careers either in the arts or in environmental organizations, followed by a panel discussion on community organizing at 12:30 p.m and all to be conducted in rooms on the third floor of Smith as well.

A fourth panel, on careers in fundraising, is on the slate with its time yet to be determined.

Mary Vance, a Career Center counselor, noted that with a potentially large turnout and buzzing atmosphere. She said the career fair could possibly be a bit overwhelming to a visitor, which is why she and other staff members will be present to aide in matching students’ interests with appropriate booths.

“A big question in many people’s minds is ‘how do I go about finding helpful information?’,” Vance said. “The best thing to do is to just ask.”

This year’s fair will also have a good source of information on international opportunities. The Monterrey Institute graduate school and the School for International Training in Vermont, both recognized as being the best for international training, will be among those present to offer guidance.

Those interested in landing a job are encouraged to bring a resume, however, it is not stressed that one needs to do so.