You Too Can 2.0: And an Intern Shall Lead the Way
[Author’s Note: Facebook and MySpace and Twitter, oh my! While I’m not the yellow brick road to lead you to the Emerald City of social-networking Utopia, I am a real, living, breathing, Facebook-surfing, Gen Y, nonprofit professional. My goal for this column, which will appear bimonthly in FundRaising Success’ Giving 2.0 e-letter, is to help nonprofits understand the who, what and why of Web 2.0]
“Social networking is great, but we just don’t have the time or staff for that kind of thing.”
Does this sound familiar to you? It probably does, because it’s become the motto of many an overworked, understaffed nonprofit organization. So rather than make a proposal for additional staff or increase the job descriptions of your communications department, you might try proposing an alternative.
There is a gigantic resource ready and waiting to get your 2.0 efforts buzzing — for free. Meet the college student. The college student in search of an internship and the organization in search of staff — sounds like a match made in heaven!
Like most college seniors, I spent my last year in college earning credits toward graduation and beefing up my resume by hunting for internships, participating in research projects and volunteering for anything and everything in my field of study. Each year, a new group of people that are technologically savvy and hungry for opportunity are waiting for a chance to utilize their knowledge and learn the lessons that cannot be taught in a classroom.
Here are my top three ways to utilize budding, young professionals before they hit the ground running.
1) College visits. They aren’t just for those looking to attend colleges, but for those looking to recruit from them as well. Search your surrounding area for universities that offer degrees relating to nonprofit work. For example, many schools in the Chicago area have majors called nonprofit management, theater management and arts management, etc.
This would be a great place to start your search. A one-hour visit to a senior-studies course could put you in a classroom speaking to 20 college students excited at the mere prospect of the opportunity to work with your organization and who all are eagerly heading into the world of nonprofits.
2) Many colleges allow students to do work for outside companies or organizations to obtain senior credits. This type of arrangement is beneficial for both the student and the employer. The student gets college credits and knowledge of the industry, while the organization gets the input of an energetic, 2.0-savvy individual working for its cause. This type of recruitment requires only a phone call to the career-services offices of any major university. One of the areas these offices specialize in is helping students secure the internships required for graduation.
3) Browse social-networking sites. Many organizations and companies are turning to Facebook for their intern needs. Check out Chicago Professionals for Youth on Facebook. This group focuses on connecting young professionals with volunteer opportunities at local nonprofits. There are several groups like this one, looking for organizations to pair with talented, young students beginning their careers.
Obtaining the assistance of an intern for social networking is a cost-effective, flexible way to test out how your organization can benefit from 2.0 applications, and, at the same time, also provides the opportunity for the next generation of nonprofit professionals to get a jump-start in the industry.
Christina Johns is manager of media and telemarketing at the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.