Bay Area job seekers look for more than a paycheck

By Chris Nichols, Daily Planet Staff
Saturday June 15, 2002

Many Bay Area job seekers a bit more interested in improving the world than fattening their wallets may have attended Thursday’s Non-Profit Fair in Oakland.  

The daylong fair attracted many local residents who are skeptical of the sagging technology market and want a more rewarding — even if it is lower -paying, job. 

Recruiters from 40 Bay Area nonprofits attended the fair, organized by Sector Power and Idealist.org and provided for free to attendees technical assistance and how-to workshops. 

They came from a range of backgrounds but shared a common goal: To find careers that involve people. 

“Nonprofits keep us connected through our hearts to other people and to the rest of our community,” said Howard King, supervisor with the Berkeley Emergency Food and Housing Project. “We found a lot of people today wanting to work not in the corporate world but with and for other people.” 

Attendees of the fair, many with both bachelors and graduate degrees, distributed resumes and spoke with representatives hoping to gain even an entry-level job at one of the organizations.  

“We’ve got amazingly qualified people looking for these jobs. We’ve got lawyers and other professionals looking for entry-level positions at non-profits,” said Sonny Le, an organizer with Sector Power. 

According to Emma Kalonzo, coordinator for Idealist.org, approximately 500 people attended the fair at its two locations, Preservation Park and The James Irvine Conference Center in downtown Oakland. Kalonzo says the fair provided Bay Area residents something it has been missing, a showcase for local nonprofits. “We wanted to highlight all of the great things that nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area are doing. There wasn’t anyone else doing that. We wanted to fill a void,” Kalonzo said. 

Many at Thursday’s fair emphasized that with the collapse of the dot-com market, nonprofits and other alternatives to the corporate world have begun to take up a larger share of the Bay Area economy.  

Many of the organizations at the fair, such as the San Francisco College Access Center and AmeriCorps, provided job seekers with information about youth based programs. According to Melita Noel, Tutoring Coordinator at SFCAC, a number of graduates from Upward Bound, the parent organization of SFCAC, showed up to Thursday’s fair looking to work in the nonprofit world and give back to the community.  

Upward Bound and SFCAC are nonprofits committed to serving low-income youth with advice and information about college admissions.  

Noel added that along with the Upward Bound grads, a number of job seekers from the fields of education and even a few from the corporate world had inquired about SFCAC’s nontraditional education programs. “A lot of educators and teachers want to continue to work with youth but not have the same kind of structure of the school districts,” Noel said.  

She received a number of resumes Thursday, she said, many from individuals with significant training and graduate degrees.  

According to Margaret Kirkpatrick, principal at the Berkeley Adult School, the recent economic downturn has had a significant effect on the programs at BAS. “This was our largest program year ever,” Kirkpatrick said. “There’s been a dramatic increase in enrollment.” 

BAS offers its 14,000 students academic, vocational and career preparation programs. Kirkpatrick says that the programs at BAS are in a constant state of development to meet the needs of students.  

Bled says that Berkeley High’s Parent Teacher Student Association has increased the number of speakers at career workshops and has a number programs which focus on alternative education. According to the Career Center at UC Berkeley, graduates of the class of 2002 are and have been starting their job hunts earlier than previous classes.  

Of the students who found jobs in 2001, there was a 4.1 percent increase in those going into the non-profit and public sectors compared with the year before. 


Contact reporter at