Getting Started with Non-Profits

Career Paths
Non profit
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The nonprofit sector represents a varied group of foundations, associations and organizations—several of which offer paid positions to graduates in the biosciences. Where you choose to go in this maze of opportunities depends on your own personal mission, goals and career path. If you’ve ever thought about being an executive director for an organization like the Pediatric Therapy Network, an organization that is working toward the advancement of therapies for children with disabilities, working in the nonprofit sector may be the kind of job for you.

Organizations that serve the dual purpose of the advancement of health or sciences and service to the global community are looking for people with skills in statistics, research and, in some cases, management or project development in addition to a medical or science background. The best fit for those interested in a career in the nonprofit sector is one with an interest in social issues, biosocial studies and in jobs where the outcome affects a specific community, a particular biomedical or biosocial issue, or society as a whole. For example, the American Cancer Society has positions with job titles like “Epidemiologist and Surveillance Researcher”, “Associate Medical Director”, “Biostatistician” and “Health Services Researcher”—many of which are located in their home office in Atlanta, Georgia. The driving force behind most nonprofit agencies is the achievement of some sort of social, medical or societal gain.This needs to be your goal as well if you want to work for a nonprofit agency. As nonprofits often strive to limit costs, the best candidates are skilled in areas beyond that of their primary life sciences focus.Wearing many hats means having experience in grant writing, computer applications, epidemiology or statistical analysis.Showing versatility, being able to work with a team and maintaining a wide focus on the job are a definite must.Most positions require skilled multitasking abilities.

When working with nonprofits that service local communities, being able to service those who don’t speak English by learning a second language may be important. Looking for a career in the nonprofit sector is far from “one-stop shopping”.There are two distinct pathways for looking for the right job.The first is to go to the source and explore opportunities at several of the largest U.S. Charities that relate to the health and sciences. They post their employment opportunities at their web sites. The second is to sign on to one or more web sites that specialize in nonprofit careers.Smaller organizations often post jobs on these sites. Charities The following are links to the top health and science-related charities. There is a star next to organizations that had an excellent breadth of advanced opportunities available on the day of my search.Each has employment offerings on their web site.

Fourteen Top Health/Science-Related Charities by Revenues American National Red Cross American Cancer Society* AmeriCares American Heart Association Catholic Relief Services* United Cerebral Palsy Association Smithsonian Institution* Save the Children Federation MAP International United States Fund for UNICEF March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation National Mental Health Association American Diabetes Association* Muscular Dystrophy Association Nonprofit organizations and larger associations like the American Heart Association offer paid positions as well as intern opportunities.The range of positions is expansive.There are positions in epidemiology, environmental sciences, medical research and supervisory capacities, to name a few.Far from carrying the image of low paying, volunteer-oriented organizations, nonprofit agencies offer competitive salaries and benefits to quality graduates and postgraduates.Jobs range from executive or directorial positions, careers in applied research and jobs focused on community or national health.

The job you pick depends on your level of background in the sciences, your desire to advance into management positions and how close to the “front lines” of community service you want to be. Foundations Foundations are the place to look if you have a position already but need funding for a particular project or idea.For example, the Gates Foundation offers scholarships for postgraduates interested in projects related to health, equity, technology or education.For those not sure where to look, Internet sites like The Charity Channel or Charity Village Nonprofit Neighborhood offer links to foundations that grant funds for those who qualify and fit with their goals. Internet Job Offerings The Internet provides multiple sources for online exploration of a career in the nonprofit sector.Nonprofit Jobs Cooperative offers a variety of nonprofit job offerings, as does an organization simply known as Nonprofit Jobs.

The latter has a specific section on research opportunities. The list below shows just some of the places you can go to look for a career in the nonprofit sector: Common Good Careers Nonprofit Jobs Cooperative Nonprofit Jobs Nonprofit Gateway (a U.S. gateway to government nonprofits U.S. Environmental Protection Agency U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Nonprofit Career Network Deep Sweep Society for Nonprofit Organizations One Internet site, located at, offers nonprofit-only positions in a wide range of areas, including research and project development. It provides nonprofit and volunteer information on more than 29,000 organizations in over 150 countries. Severalpositions focus on the biological or medical sciences and some organizations work closely with the U.S. Government as consulting agencies. Nonprofit jobs in the bio-sector are available for the motivated, society-oriented individual who is interested in playing a singular, yet significant role in the formation of social and societal change through research and investigation.