October 3, 2011; Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer |Recent college graduates with limited work experience have had a particularly difficult time navigating career paths in the recession of the last few years. With the goal of learning more about the challenges of Cleveland’s young nonprofit employees, Cleveland’s Young Nonprofit Professionals Network conducted a member survey in late 2010 with a focus on individuals between the ages of 25 and 35. Reporting on the outcomes of the survey in a recent story, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reveals that despite the city’s high concentration of nonprofit organizations, 82 percent of respondents indicated that they had considered relocating as a means to advance their careers. 

According to the Plain Dealer, the majority of the 143 survey respondents had less than five years of experience working in the field and linked their interest in nonprofit work either to a specific mission or a more general desire to give back. As an example of this demographic, the story cites Kim Novak, a recent graduate of the master’s program at the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Case Western Reserve University, who, after a six-month job search, just moved to Columbus to live with her parents. Dave Waldman, another graduate of the CASE program, experienced similar challenges but found an unexpected solution in a year of Americorps VISTA service at the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation in Cleveland. In spite of the relatively low salary that the job provides, for Waldman staying in his home town made sense. “I’d rather stay here and work to solve some of (its) issues instead of going someplace else,” he told the Plain Dealer

As a possible solution to the potential of losing more of the city’s young, YNPN suggests that the Cleveland’s nonprofit community do more to “define, support and promote nonprofit work as a viable career choice for its young professionals.” In the report, “Building a Career in Nonprofit Cleveland” the authors highlight the value of mentoring programs that match experienced professionals with individuals who are newer to the field. Agreeing with the importance of keeping young workers energized in a challenging economy, executive director of America Scores Cleveland, Debra Pence-Meyenberg suggested that “even if you can’t promote them right now, you can let them plan events or share talents in other ways.”

The national office of YNPN  will release “The National Voice Report,” a broader study on trends with young professionals, at the end of October.–Anne Eigeman