Recently GAPPS-ICMA held two virtual Networking Nights with UConn Public Policy alumni on nonprofit and government careers. The panelists answered pre-submitted questions from students, and then broke out into smaller sessions. GAPPS-ICMA Chapter Officials created virtual pamphlets for each event to help students prepare.
Below is a compilation of advice given by alumni on topics of high interest for students.
What advice would you give to soon-to-be graduates entering the non-profit field?
- Don’t limit yourself
- Find interesting people to talk to, and initiate a conversation. Be open to talking to anybody, because you never know where that relationship might take you
- Do whatever awesome means to you, the MPA and MPP programs make you versatile
- Figure your brand out, and use it to your advantage!
- Identify the arena in which your passion is
- Pick a geographic area to focus your job search
- Assemble a database of orgs that are doing the work you care about, and research each organization
- Assess yourself honestly, and advise yourself as if you’re talking to your best friend. Sometimes you are harder on yourself than you would be towards others.
- Do a cost-benefit analysis of the job you’re applying for
- Be prepared to fail, this is okay, and part of the process! Keep an open mindset.
- If the environment allows you to, try to stay in a job for at least a year.
- Know with certainty that your first job will not be your last
- It’s just as much about you choosing an organization as it is them choosing you. Do not be afraid to ask questions.
Do you have any advice for negotiating salary, benefits, etc?
- Will you take advantage of all benefits? If not, negotiate for a higher salary.
- Do your research, and know what people hired into that position average is for salary and benefits. If you feel you need to ask for more, ask! The worst they can say is no.
- Be willing to ask about benefits early on in the conversation.
- Be realistic, if you don’t have a lot of work experience, don’t expect top of the range. Be clear in asking when you will be evaluated, and what the criteria and goals are to work towards them.
- Talk about your salary with others in similar positions.
- Use tik tok and other social media to your advantage! There’s good content out there to learn tips and tricks.
- Look up a nonprofit’s I90 to get an idea of salaries. This is less relevant for starting positions, but it is still a useful tool!
- Understand what you are worth. MPA students are worth a lot! Your skills are valued.
What are the top 3 interview tips / advice that would have been helpful to you when you were first starting out?
- Nail your opening pitch. Paint the picture, why this job is perfect for you, and why you are perfect for them.
- Think of your interviewee role as a storyteller, and prepare and practice 4-5 stories with examples of your skills in action.
- Always have questions, beyond logistical, even outside the specific job. Think about your role within the broader organization.
- Do research on your interviewers, using your resources online and LinkedIn.
- Fully understand the position you are applying for
- Show your excitement!
- Engage and ask questions
- LinkedIn, Google, do your research on interviewers
- Hone down your skill set so you can state how they differentiate you and would be impactful to the organization
- Make your interview conversational, everything is about teamwork
- Interviewers are hoping you are the right person, so don’t be so nervous!
- Be clear on what the value added is that you bring to the org
- Come up with examples/stories and hard numbers of your impact
- Read the room, make eye contact, and be aware of your responses
- The ideal team player (for interviewers) but great for people looking for jobs. Hungry, Humble, Smart! (People smart)
- Think about the culture of where you want to work, always have a question for this
- Dig in to the job description, and speak on it with an example, including your coursework.
GAPPS-ICMA appreciates the opportunity to connect with alumni and the students look forward to hosting this event annually!