How to Turn Your Passion for a Cause Into Your Career
You probably already know that a big part of career satisfaction is being passionate about the company you work for and enjoying the job you do on a daily basis. But when you combine your professional skills with a cause that you care about deeply, you can bring that passion to a whole new level.
Just ask these five professionals, who have translated their skills in marketing, design, operations, and community management into roles—in some cases, roles they never expected—at mission-driven organizations they truly believe in. Read on to find out more about their career paths and what led them to where they are now, and get inspired for your own career.
Marketing and Communications Manager, Bright Pink
From the time she was in high school, Carli Feinstein knew she liked to throw a good fundraiser. So after nixing Spanish as her initial college major, she went into business and PR. Going into her senior year, she began an internship with breast cancer awareness nonprofit Bright Pink at its very beginning stages. "The organization was tiny!" she shares.
But the real reason she felt a connection with Bright Pink? "I had just learned that my aunt and cousin had both been diagnosed with cancer that year," she recalls. "For the first time, I saw a real way that I could put my skills of understanding business and creativity and writing to use for something good."
She does that by managing Bright Pink's social media communities, developing relationships with corporate partners, and planning all the materials for upcoming events and programs.
Partner and COO, The Bridgespan Group
It was when Mandy Taft-Pearman started applying to business school that she found out about the Bridgespan Group. She'd always been interested in nonprofits and mission-driven organizations, so she knew the nonprofit consulting group was right up her alley. But instead of trying to apply right away, she took it as a challenge to see if she'd be able to apply what she learned at business school to a nonprofit career. Turns out, she could!
"I'm excited about the fact that we are on a never-ending search for how we can have more impact," Taft-Pearman shares. After eight years as a consultant, she accepted the role of COO—and now, she oversees the organization's four main functional groups, helping to form internal strategy and move the company mission forward.
Digital Associate, (RED)
Art class was Mallory Ross' favorite part of the day throughout high school—so it was no surprise (well, except to her parents) that she ended up going to art school, where she studied advertising and graphic design. But what brought her to AIDS fundraising organization (RED)? "I actually did a presentation on (RED) in high school," Ross recalls, "and then I did one in college, as well, to engage my friends and fellow students."
Then, about two weeks before graduation, she saw a tweet from the organization, which inspired her to apply for a position. As a digital associate, Ross manages (RED)'s multiple social media platforms and serves as the in-house designer, creating imagery and videos that will engage users. "Using my design skills to advocate for good is super inspiring," she shares. "It's definitely what keeps me going here."
Director of Vocational Services, Goodwill
J-D Garcia's dream career may have initially involved playing soccer, but he found his real passion at Goodwill, where he helps job seekers prepare for and find employment. This starts with Goodwill stores, which offer goods to the community at affordable prices. But that's not all: "We also operate our stores to give people with barriers to employment meaningful work," Garcia shares.
To prepare job seekers for that work, Garcia also oversees job training programs, where job coaches train future employees on the necessities of the workplace, like how to work as part of a team and respond to supervisor requests. "We're a resource for our community. When I come to Goodwill, I feel very honored to work here."
Community Marketing Director, Kiva
Chelsa Bocci started in the corporate world, working as a recruiter and immigration specialist for the first five years of her career—until a stint of travel changed everything. She was backpacking in southeast Asia when the tsunami hit Thailand in 2004, so she stayed there for three extra months to do relief work with the Thai Red Cross. Eager to do more (and not quite ready to reenter the workforce), her next step was an internship in South Africa, where she first discovered microfinance.
As the community marketing director, Bocci finds ways to engage Kiva's online and offline audience. She spreads the mission of the company through both social media platforms and real-life initiatives, like new college chapters and elementary school classrooms.
Photo of hands courtesy of Shutterstock.
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