Nonprofit jobs increasing in popularity

Applications for nonprofit jobs are rising rapidly, although this does not mean that the availability of positions is keeping pace.

Gina Jacaway, AmeriCorps director at the Illinois Public Health Association, said that for 15 summer internships she received more than 230 applications and resumes. Jacaway said that she has seen an increase in both openings and applicants, and credits both to the faltering economy.

“There is an increased need from agencies throughout the state of Illinois to get qualified candidates into them,” Jacaway said. “They have voids to fill and those are increasing voids because of the economy due to layoffs.”

However, Jacaway also said that while a good portion of applications are due to economic necessity, many are also a testament to the next generation coming into the professional workforce.

“They really want to give back, not only get a job but also make a difference,” Jacaway said, adding that about 45 percent of her AmeriCorps applicants are recent college graduates.

“There is an increase of applicants that need to get some experience in between their bachelor’s and master’s degrees,” she said.

Jacaway says that many of the host agencies that accept AmeriCorps volunteers impose qualifications beyond those required by AmeriCorps, usually asking for at least two years of college work experience.

The organization places about 75,000 volunteers in 11-month terms of service at different nonprofit groups all over the country. Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age.

The Campaign for Better Healthcare, based in Champaign, employs nine AmeriCorps volunteers.

Jim Duffett, executive director of the campaign, said that his organization has received an abundance of resumes, but the nonprofit sector is becoming a tougher job market. He also pointed to the economy as a significant contributing factor.

“It has had an impact on new (nonprofit) funding from private sector foundations,” he said. “But there are a number of new job opportunities that we have.”

Duffett estimated that 20 percent of the increase in applicants is because of the difficult job market, while the rest is due to the Obama administration and what Duffett called his “call to service.”

“There is an unbelievable amount of people applying for those jobs,” Duffett said.

However, Duffett also added that the Campaign for Better Healthcare will not be hiring any more paid staff members. Charmaine Milla, sophomore in LAS, said she is interested in the nonprofit sector for both personal interests and professional goals.

“I’m looking into positions that require involvement with charities,” Milla said, adding that she has considered fundraising for different nonprofit organizations, primarily ones that focus on issues abroad.

While Milla said her own interest in nonprofit work is not connected to the new president, she definitely sees an increase in involvement amongst her fellow students since Obama’s campaign.

“I do see that trend,” she said. “I see a lot more people interested.”