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10 Lessons We Learned This Year About Finding and Loving Our Nonprofit Careers

A metal design of the number 10 on a piece of wood.

There were hundreds of articles posted to Idealist Careers this year. Topics ranged from how to become a nonprofit board member to a conversation with Susan Cain, author of “Quiet” about introverts as social-change leaders. As 2013 winds to a close, we reflect on the most popular posts of this year and the lessons we’ve learned from them.

Want a career in international development? Do the “unsexy” work

From: 3 tips for launching a career in international development

Asiyah Sharifi, a lawyer who focuses on gender justice and women’s entrepreneurship in developing countries, has spent 12 years navigating the international development field and offers advice on how you can do the same. Of her three tips, she recommends everyone get used to doing the “unsexy work” that needs to get done on the ground, which might include a lot of administrative work.

The most powerful weapon in your career is an informational interview

From: How I landed a job through an informational interview without asking for one

Rebecca Magee wanted to make the jump from the nonprofit sector to the for-profit sector. She currently works as the Social Consciousness Coordinator at EILEEN FISHER, Inc and was able to make the transition by going on an informational interview. By reaching out to someone she admired in her field, she gained helpful information on how to navigate her career and left a powerful impression.

If you want to be successful, you have to keep track of your accomplishments

From: Are you keeping track of your accomplishments at work?

If you want to change jobs or just want to stay motivated in your work, you should keep track of all of the amazing things you accomplish. In this post, we offered advice on how, why, and when to note your accomplishments. One way to organize them is to maintaining a journal, spreadsheet, or online doc: “Every time you hear yourself say ‘Winning!’, make a note of what you did and include the day’s date.”

Set aside time to think about what you love

From:  27 questions to ask yourself to figure out your passion

Scott Dismore at Live Your Legend has put together a list of 27 questions to help you figure out your passion. Here’s one question that stands out: “When was the last time you massively over delivered on something? What was it and why did you work so damn hard?”

A job interview is a two-way street, so come prepared

From: 175 questions to ask during a job interview

Ever have trouble coming up with questions to ask during an interview? No more excuses, here are 175 to choose from. Two stand outs are: “Why do you think people leave this organization?” and “Does anything cause you concern about my candidacy?”

Passion comes from experience and reflection

From: A simple equation to help discover your passion

Ryan Chatterton at Brazen Life calls into question the common advice too “follow your passion,” claiming it’s not entirely helpful. Instead, he suggest that passion is cultivated and offers an equation to help you discover your own.

It’s OK to manage your manager (in fact, you have to)…

From: The dos and don’ts of managing up

The idea of managing your manager requires tact, but is necessary in today’s workplace. The first step is to get to know your boss, which involves better understanding the way your boss communicates and what they want from you. Consider asking a question like this: “What is she ultimately trying to accomplish at this organization?”

And managing your manager starts early

From: 5 questions to ask your potential boss during a job interview

It’s important to ask your potential boss questions during your interview to gain insight that may let you know if you’re a good fit for the company. One question to consider is: “What qualities make people on your team successful?”

You’re never too old to try on a new career

From:  I’m a 30-year-old intern

Former Idealist intern Kimberly Maul wrote about her experience being an intern at 30-years-old. When deciding to take on the job, she had to ask herself some questions. Among them: “Will this be valuable to me? Taking a step back to work as an intern is a bit of a risk. But internships should be valuable experiences, especially in an industry or field where you don’t have much experience.”

Introverts can excel in the job hunt

From: Job seeking as an introvert

In our most viewed post of the year, Idealist Scrum Master Hannah Kane wrote advice on looking for and securing work as an introvert. In regards to the search, Hannah recommends looking for jobs that “suit your personality, in organizations that match your mindset.”

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by Aaron McCoy

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