Dear Coach Joan,

Am I the only one who really wants to find meaningful work that is not a part of the consumer, capitalistic, dog eat dog world? I graduated from college with a degree in sociology and I’m very interested in helping people. I have no idea how to get a ‘real job’ and have been working the same construction job I did in high school. How do I get a ‘real job’ but not feel like I’m a part of the corporate world which is frankly hurting our planet and just making more and more money to fuel materialism? I also want to stay in Sonoma County where I grew up.

Ian the Idealist


Dear Ian,

Congratulations on completing your college degree!! It shows that you set your goal and worked toward completion. Good job! No w the transition time, launching from college life to career launch. And sadly, they really don’t teach the process of exactly how to make that transition. Most colleges have career centers but students often say they are not helpful or they don’t know how to really use those resources. But  that said, I think you have more going for you than you realize. Many people don’t know what they value and just look to get a job, presumably based on their skills and interest, and land in whatever is available and highest paying.

That is not you, Ian.

You have a strong sense of purpose. You want to make the world a better place. You want to contribute in a way that helps people directly.  Bravo!

That means you are a perfect candidate for the non-profit world.

Music to your ears: In the non-profit world you will find your tribe of people who are also committed to helping to improving things!!

It is vital to work among people with whom you share values. You clearly value using your time and energy to make the world a better place. Non-profits are your career sector!!

There are for profit and non profit organizations. Non-profits are set up with a specific mission that often entails being of help in some way in our society. That is in contrast to a for-profit business oriented company whose mission is first and foremost to make a profit, by selling services or products.

That is NOT what you are interested in.

Now, how do you find out what opportunities you should explore? First of all, being in Sonoma County, California, recognize that you are in the county that has the largest number of non-profits per population than any other county in California. There are many do-gooder organizations for you to explore!

The first thing to do is to get a sense of the range of non profits in your local area. You can Google to find a list of non profit organizations in Sonoma County. You will see that they are focused on topics ranging from healthcare to helping the environment, to supporting education, helping animals and more. Go down the list and look for the category or categories where you are most interested in making a contribution.

Next, look to have informational interviews with people who work at the various non profit agencies.

Makes sure to put together a resume that highlights your education, work experiences, volunteer work, key academic courses and include an Objective of working in the non profit sector.

Write a cover letter that explains your interest in the non profit arena, your attraction to their mission in particular and the skills and passion you are bringing to your career with them.

You can also Google to find ‘careers in non profit’ to explore the various roles that people play.  Once you identify some non profits that are appealing to you, see if you can make the time to do some volunteer work there. It gives you the chance to get to know various organizations and people and sometimes people get hired into an organization after they prove themselves as fine volunteers and a position opens up that matches their skills. By then they are a known entity and have proven their commitment through the volunteer work.

Onward in your idealism and finding work in a local non profit.

Coach Joan