Unusual stints that make a difference

They are no longer just about hunger strikes and hartals, NGOs (Non Governmental Organisations) are also avenues for careers and they have many takers among the youth.

Whether it is for the passion, or for the crucial ‘on-the-job’ experience, or to make meaningful use of ‘gap years’, more and more youth are taking up jobs in the social sector.

Over the years, non-governmental organisations have become more than just pressure groups, they have become important instruments of change, collaborating with corporates in their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and governments.
Says Vaishnavi Bala, who has had multiple stints with NGOs, “NGOs have become corporate-like in their way of functioning and level of expectations. They are highly accountable to their funders and take their job very seriously.”
It is no wonder that youngsters look to these organisations to develop a unique armoury of skill sets.

Says 22-year-old Rohini Kamath, who worked with an animal rights organisation, for a year and a half, “I worked in the media relations department, and had to come up with communications material, write press releases and even assist video journalists. I couldn’t have asked for a better platform to sharpen my news sense and writing skills.”
For Rohini, who is now pursuing her Masters in Public Relations, the theories that she learns in class make more sense after her on-field exposure.
Sumanth Madhav is an     engineering graduate who is  definitely not about to land a software job. He is into wildlife rescuing and is in the process of establishing an NGO, called Vanamitra, along with his friends.
“I’ve been into wildlife rescuing since I was eleven. Rescuing snakes is as much a part of my life as my mobile phone is,” says Sumanth passionately. He plans to pursue Vanamitra full time.

“I believe that a job has no point unless it makes you  completely happy. I will not be happy in a 9-5 or desk job,” he says.
For a long time, NGOs were the happy-go-lucky playgrounds of rich housewives, for whom the pay didn’t matter.
While NGOs still don’t pay as much as corporates, this too is changing. “For a fresher, the starting pay is dismally low,” says Rohini.

“But as you gain more experience or bring more skills to the workplace, the salary exponentially goes up,” opines she.

Sumanth concurs, “The scene is much better today than it was four or five years ago. Corporates are showing interest in funding social initiatives, even the government is more than ready to adopt well managed social projects. International organisations are a major help in this area.”
Ashra Anver, who is working in a women’s rights organisation, says, “The kind of hard skills and soft skills working in an NGO equips you with is phenomenal. I know a little bit of everything in event management, photography, research, film making and graphic design,” she says.

An NGO has work opportunities for a whole multitude of professionals today — from lawyers to journalists to researchers to designers to film-makers.
Does one need professional qualifications to work in an NGO?
“Well, I guess a degree in social work or development studies always comes in handy, but it’s the field experience that counts,” says Vaishnavi.
Recession or otherwise, non governmental organisations offer fulfilling and lucrative  careers, and the truth is more and more youngsters are jumping into the bandwagon today!

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