What comes to mind when you hear the word advocacy? Do you think of attending protests? Posting on social media? Maybe donating to organizations or calling your representatives?
All of these are very important aspects of being an advocate, but frequently we don’t think of advocacy as something that can translate into a full–time career. Often, the only way advocacy is thought of as a career is as an elected representative. In reality, there are multiple opportunities where your full-time job can focus on advocating for issues that are important to you. Here are three ways that many organizations do important work in advocacy:
1. Providing Resources
Advocacy is often centered around vulnerable populations. While institutional change is fundamental to helping these communities, an important aspect of advocacy is to help those who are currently struggling. There are many organizations that address these issues and provide resources for struggling populations. For example, the Anti-Violence Project in New York has staff members who, among a variety of other initiatives, provide resources to help LGBTQ+ people who have been impacted by violence. They promote empowerment and healing by providing counseling and organizing support groups. They also serve as advocates for LGBTQ+ people as they try to get resources from service providers, law enforcement, healthcare systems, or the courts.
2. Education Initiatives
Another important part of advocacy is changing the public’s perception of a certain issue. There are many organizations that work to educate people in order to create change by showing the intersectionality of a specific topic. For example, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) spends most of its time working to educate and destigmatize mental illness. The organization runs various educational programs that reach out to hundreds of thousands of people to educate them on mental illness and the resources available to them.
3. Legislation and Policy
Another way to create change is through advocating for legislative and policy changes. By fighting for change through policy, real results can be seen through the political and legal system in our country. An example of an agency that works to do this is the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. This organization works to support and advance legislation that protects the environment and addresses various environmental issues. They work to not only bring attention to making small changes in our everyday lives as citizens but also by tackling environmental protection on a large scale through legislative action. This form of advocacy touches upon many career paths; advocacy, in general, is a communal effort. The Citizens Campaign is a great organization that exemplifies advocacy work through policy and legislation.
These are just a few of the many ways that you can have a professional career while advocating for issues you are passionate about. The Anti-Violence Project, NAMI, and the Citizens Campaign for the Environment are just a few of the organizations that will be participating in our Careers and Advocacy Panel which will be taking place virtually November 4th at 6:00 pm. This panel will help you learn more about what it’s like working in a career in advocacy as well as the opportunities available to you! You can register for this panel on Handshake to hear their experiences working in advocacy full-time and network with these great organizations! We hope to see you there!