Turn your passion into a career through advocacy work

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Advocacy is defined as public support for a particular cause or policy, but careers in that field of work are so much more than just that. Careers in advocacy often center around non-profit work which plays a vital role in strengthening communities and providing important resources to the people within them.    

“We’re so used to running and rushing for ourselves that we forget there are people who desire to have an opportunity as well and just need a door,” Calida Jones, assistant director of education and engagement for The Hartt School Community Division, said. 

Jones was one of four panelists that took part in the “Careers in Advocacy Panel” sponsored by Careers for the Common Good, a collaboration with UConn’s Center for Career Development and Community Outreach. This panel provided students who are interested in pursuing socially conscious career paths with the opportunity to hear from representatives of both local and national non-profits and learn how to turn advocacy into a career. 

“It’s what you bring with your skills and your passion for the mission as much as your education if you want a career in advocacy,” Lisa Winjum, executive director of NAMI Connecticut, said. 

Advocacy and non-profit work are often labor-intensive career paths that require you to go out into your local community and make meaningful connections with the people you are serving.  

“I am more interested in life experiences and people who are on the ground doing work and experiencing life versus the classroom version,” Jones said. “You have to go into the community you are in and start serving.” 

“I am more interested in life experiences and people who are on the ground doing work and experiencing life versus the classroom version…You have to go into the community you are in and start serving.” 

Calida Jones, Assistant Director of Education and Engagement for the Hartt School Community Division

A career in advocacy can look very different depending on where your passions lie. Common advocacy careers include lawyers, lobbyists, social workers and any other jobs that require you to fight for the interests and needs of other people. Jobs like these allow you to follow your passions and use your own experiences and knowledge to help others.  

This line of work is centered on selflessness and working to ensure the next generation of leaders is equipped with the skills and abilities to enact change on local and national levels. 

“We need to be teaching kids that are coming up behind us. Have those conversations with them about what it means to take personal responsibility for your own journey, your own life and advocating for yourself and learning how to be a support system for not just your friends, but your family, your community,” Jones said. “Those kinds of opportunities will shape and frame who you will present as.” 

Careers in advocacy are not your typical nine to five job and tend to require much more work that goes unnoticed. Many times, these roles will put you in a position where you attempt to enact change in government policies, which can be a very long, arduous journey. Despite this, all panelists agreed that these types of careers are very rewarding because you have the opportunity to make a real impact in your community.  

“When you come into the helping professions it’s because you care,” Winjum said. “If we didn’t care about people in some of our lives’ work, we wouldn’t do it. 

Thumbnail photo courtesy of @UConnCCD on Twitter.

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