Hot topics in the sector
There are many hot topics, but particular websites or newsfeeds may help you to stay on top of the latest issues.
For example, there has been a lot of interest by the media in aggressive fundraising tactics and more specific issues faced by certain parts of the sector, such as the smaller charities surviving in a saturated funding market.
Try the Charity Commission or sector-based websites such as the Third Sector and Charity Times for email updates about news and issues affecting organisations, as well as news sites like The Guardian.
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations champions the voluntary sector and lobbies Government so it is also a good place to see what topics are relevant.
What roles are available?
There are many different roles available within the charity sector. Some you may be more familiar with such as working in fundraising, volunteer management or international development.
Others may be more focused on the operational side of the charity such as HR, finance, PR or legal roles and others on service delivery such as service managers, helpline/advice managers, and support workers.
If it is the sector that you're interested to work in, think creatively about the roles that are available and which would be best suited to you.
Websites such as Prospects and Third Sector provide a good overview of roles and responsibilities.
What are the entry routes?
The vast majority of people, prior to working in the sector, will have done volunteering or internships.
There are lots of opportunities for unpaid experience in charities, although fewer with paid contracts. Some unpaid opportunities are flexible so that you can also find part-time work to supplement income.
Vacancies may be advertised on an organisation's website or national websites such as Do-it. There are lots of opportunities to work and volunteer, both in the UK and internationally.
Employers will be looking for a wide range of skills depending on the role that you are applying for. However, many rate extracurricular activities and key skills such as adaptability and innovation as imperative for working in the sector.
It's common for employees in charities to be involved in lots of aspects of the organisation, particularly if the charity is small. It's important to show a commitment and passion for the work a charity carries out.
There are a very small amount of graduate schemes for the sector, and as a result these are highly sought after.
CharityWorks offers a 12-month paid graduate scheme for the non-profit sector. Others are more tailored, for example Cancer Research Graduate Programme allows you to specify a stream of work within the charity and intoUniversity Graduate Scheme allows you to train as an education worker in centres across the UK.
The British Red Cross has a part-time, unpaid internship programme and there are details of other schemes on the TargetJobs website.