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Professional Development Workshop: Navigate Your Career Journey in the Nonprofit Sector

On July 21, the Career Design Lab launched a new professional development workshop and program, “Nonprofits and Your Career: A Panel Discussion.” Assistant director of the Career Design Lab Karen Acampado, M.S.Ed led the workshop with three nonprofit leaders: Jennifer Miranda, office manager and HR business partner of MDRC; Alicia McGrath, executive vice president of Mission of Goodwill Industries; and Jessica Shatzel, director of talent strategy at Orr Group. During this information session, participants engaged in a robust conversation with nonprofit professionals and obtained strategies for seeking and grasping opportunities in nonprofits.

The panelists shared information on their missions, organizations, culture, and available job opportunities. They also specifically demonstrated elements nonprofit employers are looking for in candidates to help students gain strong consideration in the hiring process. To seize interview opportunities, students should include impact and contributions to previous organizations, capacities, achievements, and campus experience in résumés and cover letters to reflect their identities. According to these nonprofit professionals, the top skill sets expected in future practitioners are strong verbal and written communication, teamwork, and adaptability to the ever-changing nonprofit environment. 

The panelists also shared their observations on the industry to inspire international students to navigate the job search in US nonprofits. The panelists encouraged students to establish connections and collaborations early on to develop more opportunities at the starting points of their careers.

Some insights from the panelists:

Emotional intelligence is the top skill set that we are looking for in candidates. As we work closely with trauma-related things, EQ is important, along with good communication skills.

—Alicia McGrath, executive vice president of mission from Goodwill Industries NYNJ

There are various ongoing activities with DEI [at MDRC]. Even though it will take plenty of time, we believe that it is growing and promising.

—Jennifer Miranda, office manager and HR business partner of MDRC

Do not be afraid to ask, so that we can give you the experience that you want and help you grow.

—Jessica Schatzel, director of talent strategy of Orr Group

This event was open to Columbia University Students and Alumni, who sign in here to view the full event recording.

Looking for a job or internship?  All of the organizations are currently hiring!


Learn more about the Career Design Lab here.
Learn more about the M.S. in Nonprofit Management here.