by Leslie Wells, assistant director of communications, Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI

Nonprofits across the nation are rebuilding, working to recover from the job losses that swept through the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dozens of them are now preparing to connect with college students at the 2022 IUPUI Nonprofit Expo in hopes of recruiting new talent for their organizations.

Updated reports released earlier this year found that — as of the end of 2021 — nearly 72 percent of the estimated 1.64 million nonprofit jobs lost during the pandemic had been recovered. But that still leaves hundreds of thousands of positions unfilled across the country.

IUPUI’s Nonprofit Expo will help organizations fill some of those vacancies by serving as a bridge between nonprofit, government, and community organizations and local college students.

“This isn’t a standard career fair,” explains Kerry Lay, a career advisor with the O’Neill School at IUPUI. “It allows nonprofits to connect with large numbers of students in one place and specifically targets those who are interested in working in the nonprofit sector.”

The pandemic canceled the 2020 Expo and forced the 2021 event to be virtual. But students and organizations will meet again in person on March 23 from 1- 4 p.m. in the IUPUI Campus Center. Employers can register for the event until March 21.

The Jewish Community Center is returning to the Nonprofit Expo this year. The JCC provides inclusive experiences that aim to help people grow and build communities through preschool, after-school, fitness, and arts programming.

“The Expo is specific to nonprofit employers and attracts students who want to do meaningful, mission-based work,” says JCC Director of Human Resources Nancy Riddle-Mills. “These are qualities we look for in all our employees, whether they’re full-time, part-time, or seasonal staff.”

The Expo allows organizations to see what’s coming down the talent pipeline and gives smaller nonprofits the chance to build name recognition and recruit new volunteers, interns, and employees. The trade-off for students is invaluable hands-on experience for those who want to work in the nonprofit sector.

Quinlin Malloy, a Sustainable Management and Policy major at O’Neill, attended the 2021 virtual Nonprofit Expo. She met with three organizations and was offered an internship at Camptown, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit focused on connecting kids with nature through educational learning experiences.

“Going to these types of fairs allows you to actually talk with a potential employer in a field you’re interested in before agreeing to an internship or a job,” Malloy says. “That’s a much better approach than trying to search around and hopefully find someone.”

Prior to the Expo, Malloy had never heard of Camptown. But after meeting with the organization, she was selected for an internship in late spring of 2021. And she’s been there ever since. In January, they offered her the opportunity to join their team as a full-fledged staff member.

“Without the Nonprofit Expo, I probably would have ended up in an internship that wasn’t nearly as interesting as what I was doing and it may not have turned into a job,” she says.

Thanks to the Expo, Malloy has a guaranteed job when she graduates in the fall, and Camptown has filled a position that will help them advance their organization’s mission and help education and empower more young people around Indianapolis.

The Nonprofit Expo is a collaboration between the O’Neill School, the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, IU School of Social Work, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the School of Health and Human Services, the Center for Transfer and Adult Students, IUPUI’s Center for Service and Learning, and the IUPUI Office of Student Employment. Employers can register for the event until March 21.

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