About the Non-Profit Sector

About the Non-Profit Sector

So this summer I have been working at a non-profit human rights agency.  It has been such a great experience in comparison to other places I have experienced.  International Justice Mission demands a high level of excellence and professionalism that you would think only applies to the corporate world.  The reason for that is because we take our mission very seriously.

Though all of our casework is international, the headquarters here in D.C. is what supports the mission.  The casework we take on includes victims of forced slavery, unprosecuted rape, sex trafficking, illegal detention, illegal property seizure, as well as cases of citizenship rights.  So our operations, legal practices, and aftercare support are all delivered by the national staff in the 12 countries we work.  We at headquarters support their work by raising funds, advocating and lobbying, building constituents and awareness across churches and communities, and empowering people to get involved through our marketing and communication resources.

One of the pros about working in a non-profit the size of IJM is that you are not segregated in your own department.  You  actually are exposed and aware of everything that is going on in other departments.  This is great because then you are able to connect your work with others around you and see the whole picture a little better.  This is especially true for me since I work in the Finance Department.  Since every department uses the funds raised and has to be held accountable for how they use it, I am able to see first-hand what other departments are doing to fulfill the mission of rescuing victims from violent oppression.

Another great thing about working for a non-profit is how much versatility you experience through your projects.  Instead of doing one thing every single day, my tasks vary depending on what might be needed at any given time.  Of course I have my primary work that I do on a regular basis; but because of the structure of non-profits, it is encouraged to be flexible in your approach in and in your skills.  You never know what someone may need from you at any given time!

One downfall to interning with non-profit organizations is that they usually do not pay like the government or a corporate office would.  However, I must say that very rarely do I remember that I am not getting paid when I am in the middle of my work.  The full experience of meeting awesome people, broadening your skill sets, and working to rescue victims of others abusing their power makes up for the absence of a check.

If you are considering working for a non-profit organization, my suggestion to you is just choose wisely.  My desire to work for IJM came from the alignment of my interests with their mission.  I wanted to work for an organization that provided relief and aftercare for victims, prosecuted the abusers of power, and found ways to sustain their efforts.  This organization did it all!  Search carefully and I am certain that you will be able to find one that matches your interests well.

Also, go into the organization with an open mind.  I believe that most if not all non-profits are run differently.  Some are understaffed and disorganized, while others are run like corporations or firms.  Be prepared for any kind of experience.  Explore the structure of the non-profit and search for opportunities to grow with the organization.  Some are brand new and changing rapidly, others are very well established in their ways.  Needless to say, non-profit organizations will give you an adventure if you would like to take one.  Even if your ultimate goal is to work for the government or for a corporation, I would strongly recommend having one experience with a non-profit.  It will help broaden your scope of work and make you more flexible and marketable and more equipped to change the world.

To get more of an idea of IJM and our work, check out this video . . .

Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

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