Strategizing Careers in the Nonprofit Sector

Career opportunities for Yale’s talented doctoral and postdoc students in the humanities abound. One area of particular interest is the social sector, which provides a diverse array of fulfilling options. Pursuing these possibilities calls for innovative thinking, some professional development pertinent to nonprofitsa strong base of professional connections, and an entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance. While these opportunities will leverage the many skills gained pursuing a doctoral degree, navigating the transition to a career in the nonprofit sector will necessitate “shifting gears” and require a new narrative.  

In an effort to expose PhD and postdoc students to alternative career pathways in the nonprofit arena and help them navigate this pathway, Yale’s Office of Career Strategy (OCS) is launching “Strategizing Careers in the Nonprofit Sector” this fall – a new pilot program focused on careers within the nonprofit sector. The program will constitute five sessions and all sessions will be conducted on zoom. Participants will get to interact with and learn from experts and professionals in various fields within the social sector. Each session will provide insight into a different facet of  non-profit organizations, help graduate students identify and possibly pursue new opportunities and guide them as they develop professional portfolios. 

There are limited spots available and preregistration is required. Registered participants will be provided with event details including preparatory materials for each session and information about further opportunities to meet with the panelists. Participants who complete the program will be acknowledged through with a Letter of Completion from the Yale OCS. Click here to register.

Session I. September 8th 12pm-1.30 pm (on zoom) : Orientation

Conversation with James Shulman and Ellen Babby moderated by OCS Career Fellows

The orientation session will provide an overview to the new online curriculum to assist PhDs interested in exploring career paths in the nonprofit sector. It will feature two experienced nonprofit practitioners, James Shulman and Ellen Babby who both journeyed from a Yale PhD in the humanities to successful careers in the social sector. The conversation will focus on three areas: the nonprofit landscape, key functional roles and areas of work, and suggestions related to pursuing a career in the nonprofit arena, considering both short and long-term strategies. The session, which will provide an overview of resources available, will include ample time for active engagement of participants . YaleConnect RSVP Here

Session II. October 6, 12-1:30pm  (on zoom) : How do Non-Profits Raise Money?

Conversation with Loren Mayor, Ellen Babby, Zandra Ruiz

While nonprofit organizations operate very differently than their counterparts in the private sector, their growth and success are contingent on a strong financial base. Depending on the size of the organization, each will have its own business model. This workshop provides a high-level introduction to the myriad ways that nonprofits raise funds to support their mission.  This session will introduce crucial but often overlooked, career possibilities in nonprofits for PhDs and features three PhDs from diverse careers in nonprofit strategy and development. Attendees will gain a better understanding of the transferability of their skills as PhDs to the nonprofit landscape, and an overview of helpful resources for strategizing their career in nonprofit resource development and strategy.  YaleConnect RSVP Here

Session III. October 25 4-5.30 pm (on zoom): Expanding Horizons

Conversation with Richard Ekman, Kamala Schelling, Jim Basker, Ellen Babby moderated by OCS Career Fellows

There is a rich array of possible career paths in the nonprofit sector. The Expanding Horizons speaker series will expose students to the various pathways that PhDs have journeyed. One panel each semester will engage practitioners representing various types of nonprofit organizations (i.e., foundations, think tanks, international development, higher education, the arts, etc.). This event will be open to all doctoral and postdoctoral students and will be recorded for future viewing.  

The Expanding Horizons events will build on the highly successful “Where Do I Go from Yale?” providing an opportunity to deepen these discussions. In addition, the series will be cross listed with the recurring Humanities and Social Sciences Professionalization series.  YaleConnect RSVP Here

Session IV. November 1 12pm-1:30pm  (on zoom) : Transferring Skills from Graduate School to the Non-Profit Sector 

Conversation with Roger Nozaki, Marissa Moore, Julia Kent moderated by OCS Career Fellows

Many functional roles in nonprofits require strong written and communication skills to develop resources and support their mission. In this workshop, nonprofit practitioners discuss the similarities and differences between academic writing and nonprofit communications, with a specific focus on grant writing. Participants will leave the workshop with a better understanding of the transferability of their dissertation writing to a variety of careers in nonprofit sector, as well as a number of resources and strategies for pursuing such careers.  Yale Connect RSVP Here

Session V.  December 6, 12-1:30pm  (on zoom) : Building a New Career Narrative 

Workshop with Hyun Ja Shin

A successful transition to any new career/position calls for a narrative that aligns with the mission and culture of the selected organization.  While the academic curriculum vitae is critical to any academic position, a succinct resume that clearly and poignantly reflects what an applicant brings to a position (accompanied by a letter of application that highlights these attributes) is absolutely essential. This workshop will guide students on how they can begin to rebrand themselves for the nonprofit job market. Yale Connect RSVP Here

Further details and updates can be found here. Please direct all questions and queries to McDougal Career Fellows Zaib Aziz or Taryn Dubois.


By Yale Office of Career Strategy
Yale Office of Career Strategy Yale Office of Career Strategy