Last week, myself and 11 other students participated in a Career Trek to Charlotte to learn about non-profit work and opportunities in ministry. Career Treks are a new initiative by the Center for Career Development in collaboration with other departments and groups on campus. These treks provide opportunities throughout the year for groups of students to visit a company or companies, learn more about those specific organizations, engage with industry professionals and gain first-hand knowledge of the environment and culture.
Last week’s Career Trek was hosted at Caldwell Presbyterian, a church and community known for its breadth of ministries focused on advocacy and community transformation. During our visit, we heard from members of Caldwell’s staff, as well as representatives from three non-profit organizations and initiatives.
The Third Place is a community coffee shop and common ground space run by QC Family Tree and hosted in Caldwell Presbyterian. The Third Place works not only to create economic opportunities for members of the community, but also to be a place where folks can come together to build the bonds that form deeper communities.
Hagar International is an organization committed to supporting the recovery of women and children who have been victims of trafficking and slavery in Vietnam, Cambodia and Afghanistan. Their motto is “whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to restore a broken life.”
End Slavery in Charlotte works to raise awareness about modern day slavery, and to support local anti-slavery organizations in Charlotte by filling gaps in the services available.
Over the course of an hour, we learned about the history and work of each organization. The representatives also spoke about the non-profit industry and offered their advice to us as students seeking to go into the non-profit industry. We asked questions about what to look for in job postings, how to choose between graduate schools and entry level job opportunities, and what they did to get to where they are today. Dr. Ray Casey, CEO of Hagar USA, told us that his work is guided by the questions “Who am I?” and “How can I give of that?” He said, of five degrees (one BA, three Masters and one PhD) the one he uses the most day-to-day is his Master of Arts in Non-Profit Management. Lisa, from Ending Slavery in Charlotte, spoke process and challenges of starting a non-profit. Leaving the Career Trek we had more answers, new industry contacts and a group of peers we knew shared our professional interests.
The Center for Career Development will be running Career Treks throughout the year, across a variety of industries. The next Trek will be to Red Ventures on October 21. Students should register in Handshake by October 18.
Pro-tip for Trek participants: be ready to leverage the opportunity to be in-person with industry professionals. Ask focused questions and make sure to hold onto their contact information to follow up after the event.