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Learning Center Experience
By Melanie Beath, Kaplan University Faculty
One of my favorite quotes is “It is never too late to be what you might have been” by George
Eliot. I have always thought this quote fit very well with my passion and
desire to work in the human services field. I believe people are never without
hope as long as they are alive, and that sometimes people just need some extra
support to help them get where they want go, be what they want to be and
achieve what they always dreamed of doing.
I have held many held many positions in the course
of my 20 plus years in human services, however some of the most rewarding times
I have experienced are when I worked for nonprofits. There are many important
things to know, consider, and understand when working in a nonprofit as a main
staff, as well as serving on the management team of one.
When it comes to working for a nonprofit, I think
that it is very important to take time and research the organization you are
When I think of skills related to the human services
profession, these important ones come to mind:
As an executive director of two different nonprofits,
some of basic duties in my role included:
This type of leadership position in human services usually
requires at least a bachelor’s
degree with multiple years of experience, and often an advanced degree (such as
degree) is sometimes desired. For general staff, some positions may only
require an associate’s degree, however in my experience many organizations look
for people with at least a bachelor’s degree, usually in the fields of human
services, psychology, sociology or some other type of
I’d recommend that it’s important to have some
flexibility in your schedule as you may be required to work hours that best fit
the schedule for the population that you serve, perhaps early mornings, late
afternoons and evenings, and maybe some weekends.
As an example, if you are working with school-age
children and families, many times this type of work will need to be done in the
late afternoons or evening because children are in school during the day and
the caregivers may be working. Sometimes hours can be adjusted during breaks or
in different seasons like summer.
I would encourage anyone who is interested in
working for a particular nonprofit to look into volunteer opportunities with
them especially while still in school. This helps to get you practical
experience and build relationship with the staff, and gives you an opportunity
to see if working in a nonprofit setting is what you want to do.
in a nonprofit and serving on its management team does require a lot of work,
but it is worth it when you see how the clients that you serve are empowered,
encouraged, and given hope. The journeys that they take as
they work with the staff and organization are key to helping make any nonprofit
a success. It is important to value them, respect them and work to provide
excellence in service at all times. Often times the clients we help are in need
of positive support and guidance and to be able to offer that through what we
do is very rewarding. It is very fulfilling to see people realize that they do
have hope and that is never too late to be what they might have been or achieve
what they thought was impossible.
Melanie Beath is a faculty member at Kaplan
University. The views expressed in this
article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan
University. The University cannot guarantee employment or career advancement.
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