We have a workshop coming up here at the CCP, in conjunction with the Career Centre, called How To Start A Not-For-Profit, on January 15th. My hope in organizing this is partly to help students avoid the classic mistake I see so many setting themselves up to make: namely, the misconception that graduation means getting a ‘real job’ in the ‘real world’ and leaving behind what you truly love, and getting hired at a company to do something for a paycheque.
I’ll never forget what it was like to graduate from my undergrad (I studied Art History) and start looking through the postings on job sites, realizing I had no idea what I was qualified to do. I could write one heck of a good essay, analyze a painting like nobody’s business, and research just about anything. But what did that mean in relation to the jobs I saw posted? What skills did I actually have, and what did it mean to do XYZ role for ABC company? I couldn’t picture what my next step actually looked like, because I hadn’t spent much time during my undergrad really trying to do that.
What I did know, however, was that I was passionately committed to equity in education, and that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people who found it challenging to function in a regular school setting. Trial and error took me from working where I thought I was supposed to be (a commercial gallery job, which I hated with the red hot fire of a thousand suns), to research in education, to teaching at an alternative high school, to managing tutoring and mentoring programming for a community-based organization, to working in student development and service-learning here at U of T.
For me to find what I really loved meant reconciling myself to the idea that one image I had of my future wasn’t really rooted in reality, and that I had misunderstood what a career really is. After all, a career is essentially the thing you spend more time doing in the week than any other thing. So why on earth would it not be the thing you care most about? Why should you not follow where your real motivation comes from? And if you’re involved now in a student organization or club that’s working to support a cause you believe in, or working to untangle an issue you feel strongly about, why shouldn’t you pursue that when you graduate? There are lots of ways to do this, and starting your own Not-For-Profit organization just might be what allows some students to spend more time in the week doing what they believe in than any other thing.
It’s been so inspiring for me, working in Student Life, to see how many young people are driven by a desire to support, serve and make the world a better place for themselves and others. It’s our goal at the CCP to nurture that desire, and this event is just one way we aim to do that. Hope to see you there.
Co-Curricular Service Learning & Student Development Coordinator
Centre for Community Partnerships