exploring nonprofit careers

Martina G. Efeyini
December 13, 2019

'Tis the season of giving!  #GivingTuesday was last week; what a wonderful time to explore nonprofit careers. Are you a natural problem solver looking for a career that supports the greater good of science? Or are you looking for a mission-driven career that combines policy and science advocacy? If so, a nonprofit career may be a career for you.  

Nonprofit organizations are mission-driven and the financial gains support the cause, so the salary may be lower. This is not always the case, so do your homework when applying for nonprofit jobs.  Know your values, think about the work environments you thrive in and, most importantly, keep in mind that the mission of the nonprofit should match your mission.  

Here’s some advice for preparing for a nonprofit career.  

Identify your passions  

The first step of exploring a nonprofit career is determining your “why” – i.e. your passion. Nonprofits want to hire people who are truly committed to the cause. Your passion should match, and you do not belong there if it does not. If you are stuck, talk to your mentor and complete the myIDP tool to find your core values.  


Once you find your passion, start volunteering. Volunteers are ALWAYS needed! With the year coming to an end, now is the time to find ways to volunteer next year. Are you attending the 2020 ASBMB Annual Meeting? Consider applying to be an official meeting tweeter. (Contact Communications Director Angela Hopp.) Maybe you’re interested in being part of an outreach project or advocating for science funding. There are many ways to volunteer with ASBMB.   

Also look for ways to get involved in your local community. Science museums, zoos and other nonprofits have volunteer opportunities.  

Go out in the field  

After getting your feet wet by volunteering, take it a step further. Apply for an alternative spring break, explore summer opportunities or take your research abroad with a program like the Fulbright. Start exploring these options now because many deadlines are early 2020.  

Nonprofit jobs are perfect for scientists who are passionate about science and want to make an impact in science and society!  

Nonprofit job types and openings  

Program coordinator and manager roles require strong communication, administrative and teamwork skills.  

  • The New York Academy of Sciences has two positions open for the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists. See these posts for a program coordinator and program manager (chemistry).

    The program coordinator is responsible for event operations, data management and customer service. Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in sciences, one to three years of experience in an administrate role, and strong written and oral communication skills. 

    The program manager (chemistry) works with a team to evaluate chemistry nominations, track honorees’ work and host the Blavatnik Awards. Requirements: Ph.D. in chemistry with one to three years of postdoctoral research experience preferred (academic setting), grant writing and program-management experience.

Research roles have a core focus on doing research for the greater good to cure diseases.

Science education jobs usually focus on K–12, higher education and diversity and inclusion.  

  • The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (New York) is hiring a program director for its Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in STEM Higher Education Program. Requirements: Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree in the STEM field or related social science field. Experience as an administrator in higher education, passion for diversity, equity & inclusion issues and past participant in diversity, equity and inclusion programs.  Deadline: Dec. 15, 2019, and the position starts July 1.  

Fundraising and strategic-partnership development roles require strong self-motivation and leadership skills.

  • The Society for Science & The Public is hiring a director of strategic partnerships to lead multimillion-dollar corporate sponsorships. Requirements: Strong entrepreneurial, leadership and communication skills with extensive experience securing six-figure funding.  Five to seven years of relevant experience. Bachelor’s degree (but master’s preferred).
Martina G. Efeyini

Martina Efeyini is a toxicologist and freelance science writer who blogs at She also writes for the National Society of Black Engineers and

Join the ASBMB Today mailing list

Sign up to get updates on articles, interviews and events.

Latest in Careers

Careers highlights or most popular articles

Research on a budget

Research on a budget

March 30, 2020

As a professor at a small university, Peter Lyons has developed ways of reaching his research goals with limited funding, and he shares some of them here.

Calendar of events, awards and opportunities

Calendar of events, awards and opportunities

March 29, 2020

New this week: virtual poster presentations for #ASBMB2020, webinar on research security, and more.

Internships in industry

Internships in industry

March 27, 2020

If you’ve been looking for a chance to try your hand at industry work, these internships are a great way to start.

Science Twitter: Personal boundaries on a professional platform
Social Media

Science Twitter: Personal boundaries on a professional platform

March 25, 2020

“Success on Twitter has a different definition for every user ... I felt I needed to find the perfect balance of personality: one that is professional, intelligent, and advocates on behalf of meaningful causes but is still likable and relatable.”

The surprising comfort of learning objectives

The surprising comfort of learning objectives

March 24, 2020

As you work through the transition to remote learning for your class, let the learning objectives be your guide.

Calendar of events, awards and opportunities

Calendar of events, awards and opportunities

March 22, 2020

New this week: a special section with COVID-19 announcements and resources.