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Where to start

This is a highly diverse sector where no two jobs are the same. Think about the causes you care about and what roles might suit you.

 

How to know if you’re suited to this sector

You need to want to make a positive difference in society more than want to earn a high salary. You also need a skill to bring. Charities tend to give lots of responsibility early on so if you thrive on this that’s a good start. The sector can feel chaotic and there is no set career path. Be prepared to manage your own career by moving up and on.

How to get the experience to be credible

Student societies are a great place to gain experience of issues and roles you might be good at.

Volunteer, intern, take jobs in admin or fundraising in the right organisation to get your foot in the door. Find out more in our Volunteering page

Becoming a charity trustee is a valubale experience, as well as being beneficial to the charity and wider community, Fewer than 3% of trustees are under thirty, and the Young Trustee Movement are working to change this. Find vacancies and further information on their website.


Charityworks offer a Fast-track scheme specifically for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students. You'll gain insight into the not-for-profit sector through an online traing event, as well as being 'fast-tracked' to the final stages of the application process for the Charityworks graduate scheme (see 'How to find employers' below).


Charities often like to appoint people who have developed skills in the public or private sector. A well-trodden route is to get experience in a big organisation that will train you well so you can move into the third sector later on.

Further study or certification required

The sector usually values previous experience over a master’s degree.

How to find employers or training courses

There are fewer internships and structured graduate schemes than in other industries. Use the following websites to apply to jobs which look interesting. They are unlikely to be marked as 'graduate' and may not be highlighted as entry level. If you can do most of what's in the job description, it is a suitable job for you.

www.charityjob.co.uk

www.idealist.org

www.jobsincharities.co.uk

www.thirdsector.co.uk

Follow charities which interest you on social media (they often advertise positions directly to avoid the costs of listing vacancies on an external site).

Many people use speculative applications to create opportunities rather than applying for advertised vacancies. This video will tell you more.

There are several graduate schemes.

Charityworks A paid, 12-month programme offering charity work placements to help you gain experience and skills in the sector.

Gradunique A joint Macmillan Cancer Support and British Heart Foundation graduate programme. It has been paused but is due to reopen.

Worthwhile Various entry-level roles and graduate schemes.

Wellcome Trust A general graduate scheme, and one focused on investments.

Smart Works A two year scheme that has recruited Cambridge students.

Accelerate Trainee Scheme Cancer Research A medical research charity scheme that doesn't require any health or life science knowledge and that is also open to non-graduates.

Oxfam Trainee Scheme Designed to encourage people from a wide range of backgrounds to join the charity sector. The scheme is also open to non-graduates.

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

Demonstrate your commitment to their cause by drawing on your volunteering, relevant academic work or involvement in student societies.

One size definitely does not fit all. Make sure you properly tailor your application to their requirements and give evidence of success.

What Cambridge offers to help with this career

Current vacancies and potential employers can be found via Handshake

Careers Service events can also be found via the Events page on Handshake

Contact Cambridge alumni who have worked in this sector

Other things you should know

There are lots of jobs in fundraising (corporate, high net worth individuals, institutional, events or fundraising smaller amounts from individuals). Charities need the funds to be able to do all of their other functions. Working in fundraising initially can be a good way to get experience of a charity you like - and get paid.

What to do next

Now you have looked at this page, think about your next steps. Everyone's journey is different. There are many ways to move forward. Here are some actions you could take now: