Behind closed doors, 80 employers set up tables, laid out materials, and reviewed the openings they wanted to fill for their organizations. In the IUPUI Campus Center lobby, students and alumni waited—resumes in hand—for their chance to learn more about the organizations and what internship, employment, and volunteer opportunities each one had to offer.
But this isn’t a standard career fair; it specifically targets those interested in the nonprofit sector. IUPUI’s Nonprofit Expo serves as an annual connection point for students and nonprofit, government, and community organizations. It’s at this event that the two sides find common ground and fill openings across the state.
Students and employers will once again have the opportunity to connect on Tuesday, March 26 from 1- 4 p.m. in the IUPUI Campus Center. Employers can register for the ninth-annual event until Friday, March 1.
Kathy Mikula with Girl Scouts of Central Indiana will be in attendance for the 2019 event. Mikula said her organization has had success finding students at the Expo to join their team and returns each year to capitalize on that success.
“We wanted to come out with everyone else as a not-for-profit and see what has changed,” Mikula said of last year’s event. “We’re primarily looking to fill job openings, but we’re also always looking for volunteers.”
Just as the Expo provides opportunity for well-established organizations to see what’s coming down the nonprofit talent pipeline, it gives up-and-coming nonprofits the chance to recruit new volunteers and employees.
Last year was Molly Adams’ first trip to the Expo. She was there representing the Million Meal Movement, a hunger relief organization serving Hoosiers statewide.
“We wanted to raise awareness of our mission and organization,” she said. “We’re a fairly new group so this is an opportunity to promote volunteerism.”
It wasn’t long before students began to line up at Adams’ table. This was her chance to introduce them to her organization’s mission. The opportunity paid off for the students who volunteered and for the organization. Million Meal Movement is planning a return trip for 2019.
“That’s exactly the kind of interaction we needed,” Adams said, smiling. “We want to get our name out there and build our volunteer base. We’re a full-time staff of two, so we’re looking for people who can fill in those gaps.”
For students, filling the gaps means gaining invaluable hands-on experience in the nonprofit sector, and making face-to-face connections with potential employers.
“I didn’t even realize there were this many nonprofits,” Michele Annee said as she scanned the room. Annee is a working toward her Nonprofit Management Certificate and minoring in Public and Nonprofit Financial Management.
“This is my first year attending and I was shocked there were so many nonprofits,” added Brandon Rubacha.
Rubacha plans to build on his public safety management undergraduate degree as he plans to pursue a master’s degree in public affairs. He says the Expo provides an opportunity to see what’s out there in the nonprofit world and how he might fit into that landscape.
“This event has helped me see the vast number of diverse groups available,” he said. “We can sit in the classroom and talk about the different areas students can pursue, but meeting the actual companies, seeing what they do and how they work is really important. It gives you an idea of what you want to do.”
Students recognize that the Nonprofit Expo is a melting pot of opportunities for those looking to better the communities in which they live.
Lauren French is in SPEA’s accelerated master’s program, earning her bachelor’s degree in civic leadership while while she simultaneously works toward her Master of Public Affairs with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. She said the event is especially helpful for students who aren’t local to central Indiana.
“I’m not from Indianapolis, so coming to my first Nonprofit Expo was incredibly beneficial,” she recalls. “It provided a better understanding of what the nonprofit landscape looks in Indianapolis and around the state.”
Oceanik Garrett, a media and public affairs major with SPEA, says events like these are the exact reason she wanted to come to IUPUI.
“It brings the jobs to us,” she says. “One reason I picked this university is because it’s in a big city, where the employers are. Events like the Nonprofit Expo really give students a chance to prepare for bigger interviews that can lead to bigger opportunities.”
The Nonprofit Expo is a collaboration between SPEA, the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, IU School of Social Work, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the IU Department of Health Sciences, Herron School of Art + Design, and the School of Health and Human Services.