UCL Careers


Pursuing a Fulfilling Career in the Charities and NGOs Sector

Read a broad summary about what you need to pursue a career in the non-profit sector.

An individual sitting in front of a laptop and another person gesturing with their hands.

16 May 2023

In a world that constantly grapples with social, environmental, and humanitarian challenges, the charities and NGOs sector plays a vital role in making a positive difference. If you have a passion for creating change, working in this sector can be a deeply rewarding and fulfilling career path. In this blog, we will explore the various steps you can take to build a successful career in the charities and NGOs sector.

  1. Identify Your Passion and Cause: The first step towards a fulfilling career in the charities and NGOs sector is to identify the cause or social issue that deeply resonates with you. Reflect on the problems you are most passionate about, whether it's poverty alleviation, human rights, environmental sustainability, healthcare, or education. Research and explore different areas within the sector to understand where you can make the most significant impact.
  2. Volunteer and Gain Experience: Volunteering is an excellent way to gain hands-on experience and make a positive impact while exploring different areas of the sector. Look for local charities or NGOs that align with your interests and offer volunteer opportunities. It could involve working on events, community outreach programs, or assisting with administrative tasks. Volunteering not only provides valuable experience but also allows you to network with professionals already working in the sector. Check out the SU UCL Volunteering Service to find a host of volunteering opportunities.
  3. Acquire Relevant Skills and Knowledge: To excel in the charities and NGOs sector, it's essential to develop a diverse skill set. Communication skills, project management, fundraising, grant writing, advocacy, and leadership are some of the key skills sought after by organisations in this sector. Consider pursuing relevant courses, attending workshops, or joining professional development programs to enhance your skill set. Additionally, staying updated on current affairs and understanding the broader socio-political context will help you navigate the challenges and opportunities in the sector. At UCL Careers we frequently hold skill-based workshops so make sure to keep an eye out for our events on myUCLCareers. Alternatively, if you’re after specific training there are a variety of online sites with free/affordable courses. Future Learn offers a range of online courses. As UCL Student/Staff you are eligible for a free upgraded Future Learn account which gives you premium benefits such as a course digital certificate of completion that you can share on your LinkedIn and CV.
  4. Build a Professional Network: Networking plays a crucial role in the charities and NGOs sector. Attend industry events, conferences, and seminars to connect with professionals, experts, and like-minded individuals. Engage in discussions, ask questions, and learn from the experiences of others. Joining online communities, forums, and social media groups focused on the sector can also provide valuable networking opportunities. Reach out to people on LinkedIn in positions you’d love to learn more about. Building a strong professional network can open doors to job opportunities and collaborations.
  5. Research and Target Organisations: Take the time to research and understand different charities and NGOs that align with your passion and values. Look into their missions, projects, impact, and organizational culture. Identify organizations that resonate with you and target them as potential employers. Many organisations advertise job opportunities on their websites or through specialised job boards. Consider reaching out directly to express your interest or inquire about potential opportunities.
  6. Gain International Experience: The charities and NGOs sector operates globally, addressing issues on a local, regional, and international scale. Gaining international experience can significantly enhance your career prospects. Explore opportunities for volunteering or working abroad, such as international development programs, global fellowships, or initiatives by renowned organisations. International experience not only broadens your perspective but also demonstrates adaptability and cross-cultural competence—qualities highly valued in this sector. UCL has a variety of short and long term opportunities to apply for. Check these out via the following links; UCL Go Abroad, UCL Short Term Global Opportunities.
  7. Stay Resilient and Committed: Building a career in the charities and NGOs sector can be challenging and competitive. It may involve dealing with limited resources, bureaucratic hurdles, and the emotional toll of working on sensitive issues. However, staying resilient and committed to your cause is essential. Embrace the inevitable setbacks as learning opportunities and continue to work towards your goals. Remember that the impact you make, no matter how small, can create a ripple effect and contribute to meaningful change.

A career in the charities and NGOs sector offers a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on society and address some of the world's most pressing challenges. By identifying your passion, gaining experience, acquiring relevant skills, building a professional network, targeting organisations, gaining international experience, and staying resilient, you can pave the way for a successful and fulfilling career in the charities and NGOs sector.