On DiceTV, Cat Miller recently talked about overcoming the Catch-22 of the challenge of getting experience when you’ve not been able to get a job that would give you experience. Said Cat:
Offer your services to nonprofit and community organizations, local political campaigns or entrepreneurs. They often need help with a donor or customer database or Web design and they don’t have the funds to hire experienced consultants.
So exactly how do you volunteer?
The work is easy – It’s what you’ve studied. But how do you actually get the position? Do you blindly e-mail the IT Director of an organization (if there is one) and make your pitch? Even when you’re offering your services just to get experience, the sell may be difficult. It’s not that a director would say no, but he/she may not have a need for your specific skills. She may already have a killer Web designer, but is in desperate need of a DBA. Plus, you’ll find yourself in a job hunt for no money. It feels like a waste of time when you can’t even give it away.
The solution is to find a site that brings volunteers and organizations together. One is Catchafire, a portal that matches volunteer’s skills with an organization’s needs. While focusing on Greater New York, its accepts volunteers from anywhere because many of its projects are virtual.
You’re likely to find work through such channels because organizations are facing the same problem as volunteers. Catchafire founder Rachael Chong sites a 2009 Deloitte & Touche report that says 95 percent of nonprofits want access to skilled volunteers, but don’t know where to find them.
– Dino Londis