By Merril Diniz:
According to Rahul Nainwal, Founder of the India Fellow programme, volunteering is a great way to develop up some real, in-demand work skills. So, we thought of exploring what these skills might be. We discovered that these skills not only enhance your CV and improve your job prospects, they also improve your profile in case you want to pursue higher studies abroad. So, here goes.
Mechatronics engineer Laxminarayana Doosa always loved numbers and he got a great opportunity to play with them when he worked with Drishtee, an organisation with social businesses spread across six states in Northern India. During his fellowship, he had to analyse a study and present the findings to the organisation. “This taught me a lot about data analysis; how to interpret data as well as survey designing. More than anything, it has taught me one skill that I value a lot, and get a high from whenever I work on it i.e. “Making Sense of Data”,” he shares. The ability to crunch numbers and conclude what they mean is considered an asset across sectors. You could work as a data analyst, a role that requires both technical and soft skills (like knowing your audience).
This skill has traditionally been used in the non-profit sector to pitch for grants/funding for projects. But proposal writing is easily transferable across other sectors, where outcomes could range from justifying a budget increase and winning a competitive bid to convincing managers or clients to buy into a new project. Besides persuasive writing skills, proposal writing requires a certain degree of research, adhering to a convention in terms of structure as well as the effective use of online presentation tools.
During her fellowship stint, Kamya Dagran worked with NGOs in rural areas. Her first project was community-based monitoring of the ‘National Rural Health Mission’ programme by the Government at Chaitanya, Pune. “I was trying to play the role of facilitating people of the community to make changes in their lives and environment for the better,” she shares.
In effect, what Kamya got a taste of – on the job – was a slice of programme management, which is literally the backbone of the Development Sector. Be it a health programme for mothers and children in underserved communities or working on sanitation issues – it is programme officers and managers who conceptualise and execute an organisation’s key initiatives. With excellent programme skills, one can work across the development sector or even join the CSR division of a corporate.
Getting people to part with their money is a tough proposition, but if you have what it takes, you will be in demand in any sector. On a more serious note, fund-raising is done through activities ranging from hosting events and personally reaching out to philanthropists, to tapping online platforms like crowdfunding. The donors, themselves, range from high net worth individuals and corporates that donate millions to individuals who could part with as little as INR 100 if they really believe in a cause. But for a fund-raiser, every penny counts. Understanding the psychology of donors and how to connect with them, and building and sustaining relationships, are key requirements to excel. You must also develop good organisation and planning skills along the way.
If you look at the social media pages of any organisation today, you will see that effective storytelling is being used by non-profits and corporates, alike to create visibility. A good communicator can amplify stories of impact through a mix of blogging, writing effective press releases, networking with media and leveraging social media channels. Those who master the art of digital storytelling, are in demand in journalism, advertising, the corporate sector, the development sector, marketing and communication.