Some AU students are beginning to join the growing number of young people nation-wide who are forgoing large paychecks to pursue careers in nonprofit work.
Social entrepreneurship, the movement of launching nonprofit ventures that attempt to solve specific problems in troubled areas, is growing in popularity among recent college graduates. Many of today’s young people who want to change the world see business ventures as the way to do it, according to The Washington Post.
Marcy Fink Campos, director of the AU Community Service Center, said she has seen a recent increase in nonprofit clubs and organizations that involve AU students.
“One of [the Community Service Center’s] interests is that students end up being exposed to the nonprofit sector and consider a career there,” she said.
Students who graduated from the School of International Service last year were more likely to begin work at non-profit organizations than graduates from AU’s other schools, according to the AU Career Center’s Web site. Thirty five percent of SIS students who graduated in 2007 started careers in the nonprofit sector, compared to 32 percent of graduates from the School of Public Affairs and 10 percent of graduates from the Kogod School of Business, according to the Web site.
Several AU students have also started their own nonprofit organizations. Charise Van Liew, a 2003 SIS graduate, is one of three AU alumni who founded Facilitating Leadership in Youth.
FLY is a youth outreach program based in Anacostia that began as an AU club in 2000 before becoming a non-profit in 2002. Now several AU students and alumni are involved with the organization as staff members, interns and volunteers.
Van Liew said she has high-hopes for the organization.
“Ultimately, FLY should be sustainable because it is a well-run business and its reputation and impact is bigger than its founders,” she said in an e-mail.
Brittany Schell, a senior in the School of Communication, said she plans to go in a similar direction after graduation. Schell interns at OneWorld US, which she described as a non-profit organization that posts articles online about topics not typically covered in mainstream news, such as human rights and sustainable development.
“I am interested in nonprofit work because I believe these organizations are helping to change the world,” she said.
Despite the current number of AU students interested in non-profit work, Campos said she is worried the poor economy and the amount of debt students are graduating with will start a trend away from non-profit organizations.
Amanda Kisner, a senior in SIS, said a potentially low income would not stop her from pursuing her dream of making the world a better place. After graduation, Kisner hopes to get a job providing food for the disadvantaged.
“I know that money isn’t the only thing that makes people happy, and I know that for me personally, it is more important to be doing something worthwhile,” she said.
In support of the growing trend toward non-profit careers, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business has recently become one of many business schools to create a social entrepreneurship program, according to the Post.
While Kogod does not currently have any such program, its Washington Initiative class is designed to give students experience with non-profits. This semester’s class is raising money for a walk-a-thon to end homelessness, according to Campos.
About 35 students per semester also take advantage of Community Based Learning, a program that connects classes to a related nonprofit organization. Students involved perform 40 hours of service to receive one extra academic credit for a related class.