Nonprofit career fair provides options

On Wednesday, Oct. 24, PSU’s Career Center and hosted a nonprofit career fair in the Smith Memorial Center. During the event, job-seekers consulted with over 30 representatives of nonprofit organizations. Panel discussions on nonprofit career strategies were held in surrounding rooms.

Dee Thompson, director of the Career Center on campus, organized the event.

“About 400 people pre-registered through our Web site,”she said, “But even more than that turned up … Usually there aren’t as many people interested in the nonprofit sector.”

The unexpected turnout consisted of students and professionals alike. Many in attendance traveled from out of town to inquire about some of the job openings.

“I just came from Seattle,” Cat Koehn, 24, said. “I know I’m going to need a job in another two months, so I’m exploring my options.”

Koehn said she was looking for a nonprofit job because she was tired of working for profit-driven organizations.

“I had a hi-tech job before, but it was miserable. I had no life, I worked 18 hour days, and I developed Web sites for people who didn’t even care.”

Many are drawn to the nonprofit world, Thompson said, because people feel their work is valuable.

“Often people will say, ‘I have a desire to help people, I have a desire to make the world better,” she said.

But working to make the world a better place has its setbacks.

“It’s not a surprise to anybody that you won’t make as much money in the nonprofit sector as in the private sector,” Thompson said.

In fact, some people seeking nonprofit jobs don’t expect to get paid at all. Ann Marie Chinn of Cascade Aids Project said many students who visited her stand only asked how they could volunteer.

“They were surprised we had open paying positions,” Chinn said.

The financial sacrifice nonprofit jobseekers are willing to make comes from their value-driven goals.

“I have a different goal,” Andrea Clinkscales, 23, said. “It’s more important to me to provide servicesto people in need than to be earning a lot of money.”

Some students are especially ambitious about sacrificing money to serve others.

“I have my business degree, and I’m basically throwing it out the window,” Koehn said.

Tim Barela, Mercy Corps Human Resources Coordinator, encourages people to pursue their value-driven goals. He suggested a few ways students could achieve these goals.

“Look where you want to be in three to four years and build the docks to that job,” Barela said. “Keep an eye ahead, and realize the skills you need to get there.”

Students, he said, have a particular advantage in reaching their goal of attaining a nonprofit career.

“Students have the opportunity to do internships, exchange programs, work-study programs … they should take advantage of them,” he said.

Students can also inquire about nonprofit positions from, the largest nonprofit directory on the internet. The site is currently listing over 1,500 job openings.