Have you been clicking that “search” button one too many times, looking for a lucky break and a bright side in your job search? If you’ve been wondering how to turn “apply now” into “you’re hired” after you’ve responded to an Idealist job listing, our latest video series featuring Connie Lewin, Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships at Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) will give you some insights.
Connie’s journey from the social sector to the corporate world and back again (with a stop for an MBA along the way) is an intriguing and motivating one that outlines the groundwork she laid before she even applied for the job.
Looking for an innovative approach to social change
Early in her career, her first job at a nonprofit gave her experience but she was dissatisfied with the attitude that the social issue the organization addressed couldn’t actually be solved. Ultimately, she wanted to find an organization in which she and her colleagues “could work ourselves out of a job” by identifying one problem and discovering a viable and sustainable solution for it.
She found it at SHE, a social enterprise that supports health education and women’s health needs in Rwanda. Its goal is to serve 9000 women and girls this year with its sustainable business model for a menstrual pad manufacturing business. The business currently employs 14 Rwandans- mainly women- who were given business and skills training with the hope that they can run and lead their own manufacturing company in the next 3-5 years.
Connie has seen how access to menstrual pads affects the day-to-day lives for women and girls in Rwanda and the sense of empowerment they now have when they go to school with the supplies they need to manage their periods. Her contribution to the team was as its first marketing professional, but now in Rwanda there are two staff members dedicated to the organization’s marketing efforts. “They took the framework that was laid out and ran with it, making decisions each day,” Connie explains. Her dream of being driven out of a job nearly fulfilled, she sees SHE moving its business model into other countries that have reached out for help.
Standing out to employers
Connie did research on SHE and identified how she could best contribute to the organization. Her actions can certainly help if you’re looking to make a career change.
Do your homework in the sector and career area you are interested in. Volunteer to gain experience and learn what the organization’s needs are.
Discover your transferable skills. Having previous experience at a nonprofit is not a “skill” in itself. Consider the actual skills you use, both in your work and throughout your day-to-day life. Identify which skills are needed for the jobs you are interested in and how to enhance them.
Convey your passion. Make it real and relevant for the employer. Go beyond learning about the organization itself and find out what made the founder passionate about its mission and committed to carrying it out.
While Connie’s search focused on making a sector switch, her recommendations apply even if you are staying in the same sector and cause area. You will still benefit from doing your research, learning about organizations, and discovering what skills they are seeking in applicants.
By Victoria Crispo