Discovering your career

Entry-level jobs that make a difference

Jobs to consider if you want to be on the front lines of causes that matter to you.

No matter what your career path is, you can find roles that match your skills and have a positive impact. Here are some entry-level jobs to consider if you want to be on the front lines of causes that matter to you. Many of these roles offer a starting place to figure out if a career path is right for you, without committing to a master’s degree or specialized training.

Nonprofit roles

There are many amazing nonprofits across the country doing work to eradicate poverty, promote education, provide health access and mitigate climate change. The good news is, there are many ways to use your skills in a nonprofit: just like the private sector, nonprofits hire for roles in marketing, finance, human resources, IT, and facilities.

If you’re looking for entry-level nonprofit roles, here are some jobs to explore:

Development associate or development assistant: “development” is the term most nonprofits use to mean “fundraising.” Most nonprofits rely on grants or individual donations to cover their budget. This role typically helps the fundraising department do its work by managing administrative tasks, maintaining donor databases, helping with events, or processing donations. It’s a great way to see how a fundraising department works, and to get an understanding of how nonprofits achieve their goals.

Grant writer: if you’re a strong writer and project manager, grant writing might be a good fit. Aside from writing, grant writers research funding opportunities, help keep staff accountable for grant milestones, and create reports for funders.

Education roles

You don’t have to have teacher certification to work in the classroom. These job titles are open to recent graduates:

Assistant teacher: this role gives you an opportunity to see if teaching is the right path for you, before committing to a master’s degree or other credentialing requirements. Assistant teachers typically work with a lead teacher to help teach lessons, maintain classroom discipline, grade homework, and support students individually to help them succeed.

Paraprofessional: though this role can be similar to that of assistant teacher, paraprofessionals (also called paraeducators, teachers’ aides, or instructional aides) offer more specialized help to students with physical or learning disabilities, or other special needs.

Climate and conservation roles

If you’re hoping to make a difference in the field of climate change mitigation, sustainability, or conservation, these roles could be the fit for you.

Climate Corps Fellow: this full-time, 10-month fellowship offers opportunities to implement climate change resiliency projects, develop sustainability skills, and build partnerships in your community. Participants are awarded a climate change professional certification at the end of their fellowship.

Park rangers educate visitors, protect and manage natural resources, and perform law enforcement activities in federal, state or county parks. Many parks hire for seasonal roles, and the National Park Service offers volunteer opportunities and internships to students if this is a career you’d like to explore.

Park naturalists focus mostly on educational activities: taking visitors on nature walks, teaching classes, visiting local classrooms, and more. This job combines nature conservation and education in order to get the public interested in and excited about the natural world.

Health and human services roles

Interested in exploring a job in the health and wellness space? The roles below could be an option.

Community health workers act as the link between community members and social and health services. They do outreach, act as advisors and educators, advocate for their clients, and collect community health data. This public health role can include one-on-one visits with community members and families, health education, and record keeping.

Classroom counselors or youth counselors support young people going through challenges like mental health crises, transitioning into or out of foster placement, or dealing with the juvenile justice system. Counselors work within a treatment team to provide crisis intervention, help young people connect to community resources, and act as mentors.

Government and journalism

Interested in working in public policy, or informing the public about important issues? Here are 2 entry-level jobs to start you on that path.

Journalists research, write and report news stories, educating and informing the public about events and issues that affect their lives. Journalists can uncover wrongdoing and bring it to light. Or they could highlight positive stories about solutions to problems (take a look at the Solutions Journalism Network). If you’re interested in this pathway, start with your student paper to get some experience.

Legislative aides (or legislative assistants) provide support services to elected officials, from answering phones and maintaining schedules, to conducting legal research and even drafting legislation. If you’re interested in a career in public service or public policy, this entry-level role gives you an opportunity to see how laws get passed.

Bonus: service programs

If you’re not ready to commit to a career yet, but you want to give back, consider the following service opportunities. The commitments range from 1 to 2 years, and each of these opportunities pays a stipend.

City Year is an 11-month program where members serve as student success coaches, helping students build on their strengths and cultivate social, emotional and academic skills that are important in school and life. There are multiple application cycles every year.

Teach for America works to address educational inequality. TFA corps members commit to teaching for at least two years in underserved schools. There are 5 application cycles per year.

Peace Corps could be a fit for you if you’re looking to immerse yourself in a service project abroad alongside local leaders. Project areas range from education, to agriculture, to health. Most projects have a 2 year time commitment.

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