What it Takes to Be a Nonprofit Manager in Public Health | Jun 02, 2016

What it Takes to Be a Nonprofit Manager in Public Health If you are interested in obtaining a leadership role in a nonprofit organization in the field of public health, you should be familiar with the skills and qualifications that make a great manager.

Qualities of the successful manager

While knowledge of your chosen field is important, employers are increasingly looking for soft skills – the special traits that help employees excel in interpersonal relationships. Whether you are applying for a job with a new organization, or looking to earn a promotion from within, these soft skills will help show employers that you are up to the task:

  • Leadership: If you want to be a manager, demonstrating leadership skills is a must. You should be able to manage those within your organization, as well as lead community members that you interact with. Finding a mentor who can help you grow in this area can be especially beneficial.
  • Adaptability: Even the best plans sometimes go awry. Being able to adapt and respond to unexpected challenges is critical in public health.
  • Initiative: Being able to take the initiative in your work with little oversight shows potential employers that you are ready to take on the additional challenge of managing others.
  • Passion: Passion keeps a job from becoming just work. In public health, it is critical for avoiding burnout.

Recommended education and experience

As in any field, a management position will require a certain amount of workplace experience. Starting out in a supportive role for a few years will get you on the right track to advance to a leadership position down the road. However, you will need to research the organization that you are interested in to determine the exact experience that you need. If you have a connection who works with the group, consider asking for an information interview. Unlike a formal job interview, in an informational meeting you simply meet with a professional to discuss the nonprofit and what it takes to work in that type of environment. It is not an appropriate time to ask for a job.

While requirements vary by position and organization, you cannot go amiss with a master’s of public health degree. Interested in pursuing a higher education but unable or not willing to take a leave of absence from work? Consider enrolling in an online MPH program. With the flexibility of an online degree, you can pursue your education while working full or part time, gaining valuable experience for your resume.

If you do not have nonprofit experience, consider finding a volunteer opportunity while you pursue your degree. In addition to gaining valuable experience, you will also have opportunities to network with others who work in nonprofits. You never know what connection could lead to your next job.