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From Volunteer to Career

National Student Partnerships, now known as LIFT, was started in 1998 by Kristen Lodel. At the time, Kristen was only a sophomore at Yale and has been running the organization ever since.

She’s not alone. Other organizations such as Teach for America and Dress for Success are examples of college students taking their idea and turning it into a career. You don’t have to start your own nonprofit organization—or still attend college—to turn volunteering into a career. Here’s how to get started on the path from volunteer to career.

Think about your passions and your beliefs and find an organization in line with them. See if you can visit to learn more about the nonprofit and discover if there are volunteer positions, and the possibility of future paid positions, available in your area of interest. Start by volunteering to see if it will be a good fit. If you’re serious about transitioning to a paid position you should treat your work as you would a paying job. This will show the staff you’re a hard worker and ready for more responsibility.

More than likely you’re going to have to be flexible. Oftentimes turning from a volunteer to a full time employee won’t happen overnight. But the more face time you give to the staff and if you’re open about your intentions, they can start working to make room for your position in the budget.

If volunteering is a rewarding experience, there’s a good chance you’ve found the right place to make a living as a nonprofit professional.