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Careers for the Common Good

Blazing a trail through the nonprofit job world

Students can get weak-kneed at the prospect of choosing a career path, graduating and embarking upon life in the so-called "real world." Many would like to work for socially responsible organizations but the path to those careers is seldom clear. A new initiative launched by Career Services in response to this need is Careers for the Common Good (CFCG), a student-driven effort with a mission to empower and support students in the pursuit of values-driven work opportunities in the nonprofit, public and private sectors.

Sally Newman '05
Sally Newman '05 (photo by Charles Rountree '05)

At a November event sponsored by CFCG, two established professionals in the social investing field met with students over dinner to talk about their careers. Elizabeth Glenshaw, Director of Community Investment Market and Development at the Calvert Foundation, a nonprofit community investment financial service and lending firm, and Rick Hausman, Director of Research at Clean Yield Asset Management, a socially responsible investment management firm, spoke with students about careers that integrate values and management techniques. They encouraged students to look for the kinds of careers that will make a difference in the world.

 "What I do is engaging and rewarding, but was challenging each step of the way. If you want to be in this field you have to want to create your own path," Glenshaw said.

Glenshaw and Hausman fielded a variety of questions from students: What sort of degrees do most people in your field have? How are socially responsible firms viewed by larger mainstream organizations? How can I have a hand in investor proxies? What is your office culture like?

Unlike on-campus recruiting, where students submit resumes in the fall or winter of their senior year and have a good chance of having a job upon graduation, smaller organizations, like most involved in socially responsible investing and nonprofits, often don't have the ability to hire so far in advance. "They tend to be less well funded and don't hire as often as corporations," Glenshaw observed.

"These positions offer the same sorts of intellectual challenges as corporate jobs, but often have the added value of a stated commitment to social responsibility."

- Sally Newman '05

Sally Newman '05, hired by Career Services to organize CFCG dinners, herself aspires to work in the world of socially responsible banking: "A job where I can support myself," she said, "and really put my morals to work." Newman, an Economics major actively involved with the Tucker Foundation, epitomizes the type of student Career Services hopes to reach.

Newman has been a leader of Darcorps, a day of community service for freshmen. She is also a member of the Dartmouth College Greens, a student group that advocates for Green Party issues, and Casque and Gauntlet. Because of her service experiences as a student, Newman knows that she will want to continue helping people long after she graduates.

Newman urges students to explore the nonprofit world. "These positions," she said, "offer the same sorts of intellectual challenges as corporate jobs, but often have the added value of a stated commitment to social responsibility." Eventually, Newman hopes to see CFCG connect students with nonprofit companies looking to hire, thus providing a network comparable to the one that exists for on-campus recruiting.

 "Careers for the Common Good is intended to be a major piece of a larger puzzle," said Skip Sturman, Director of Career Services. "It is modeled after a program begun several years ago at Brown University and now part of a growing national movement, spurred on by Idealist.org, to redefine and encourage the pursuit of public service careers."

CFCG is also a key component of Dartmouth's much larger Public Impact Initiative, headquartered in the Rockefeller Center, which encourages undergraduates to participate in civic activities and raises consciousness about contributing to society through their careers. Sturman and Matt Dunne, Rockefeller Center Associate Director for Civic Engagement and a leader of the Initiative, are raising funds to expand CFCG in order to help foster a new generation of civic leaders and social entrepreneurs.

To create programming, Newman began to work with Career Services this past fall to develop the dinner series that brought Glenshaw and Hausman to campus. These twice-per-term events, described by Newman as "something like a group career-counseling session," give 10 to 12 students access to people who have found success in careers that focus on the common good. The dinners will continue this winter with food an organizing theme, both in terms of the meals themselves and the speakers who represent food-related enterprises.

In addition to the dinners, CFCG sponsors a student-organized, Career Services-administered employer fair each fall where students can speak with nonprofit and other employer representatives. Over 900 students, mostly seniors, attended the most recent fair. The group also puts out a biweekly specialty CFCG blitz.

 For the past two falls, CFCG has sponsored panels at which representatives from graduate schools like Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and New York University's Wagner School of Public Service have spoken. The CFCG website features additional information, as well as a CFCG-published booklet titled Make a Living, Make a Difference.

By SAMANTHA FOX '08

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Last Updated: 12/17/08