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I would like advice for submitting references from nonprofits to scientific institutions. No need for individualized advice. My background is here but I'm curious about the general question. I work with a few nonprofits that comprise healthcare education, scholarships, safety, gun regulation, and successful grassroots legislation.

How do employers interpret these sorts of references? I'm worried they will see me as dogmatic, radical but the reality is the opposite. I'm supporting community, state and national organizations which have huge support and are very productive.

My mission statement is to learn and facilitate the process of change. Being in the thick of this has produced valuable insight into what it takes to identify priorities and follow through with a goal on a big stage. I would like my job/graduate application to see the parallel between political productivity and solving problems in science that will advance primary research as a US priority.

I do have research under my belt it's either independent or from undergrad and almost all of my professional experience has been in nonprofit work after finishing undergrad 4 years ago. It's in the past 2 years that I've chosen and worked for a career in science with graduate studies and a couple independent research projects. This is why I would like to highlight my productivity using references from my nonprofit work.

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    " I'm worried they will see me as dogmatic, radical but the reality is the opposite. I'm supporting community, state and national organizations which have huge support and are very productive." - people may consider exactly these organizations dogmatic & radical. Turn it around: how many organizations on the "other" side do you consider "dogmatic & radical" that people with different convictions would describe as "community organizations" etc.? Bottom line: be very careful with politics, it's a minefield. – Stephan Kolassa Jan 31 '16 at 21:16
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I don't think that there's any hard and fast way that employers interpret job history. That's one of the reasons that different people get different jobs. What I can say is that you will be happiest in positions where the work that you have already done, and the person that you are, is valued.

You say a lot of great things in your post. They should be in a cover letter. Of course, leave out the "I'm worried they will see me as dogmatic, radical but the reality is the opposite." And don't worry about how they will see you. If they see you that way, you most certainly won't like working there! Put out who you are, don't apologize for it. You want to work for a place that values you as you are.

Go into more detail about what you do for the nonprofits that you work with. If you have a political viewpoint, put it out there too--subtly.

Perhaps take this sentence and rework it:

I would like my job/graduate application to see the parallel between political productivity and solving problems in science that will advance primary research as a US priority.

Something like this:

I would like a position that allows me to apply my understanding of the parallel between political productivity and solving problems in science that will advance primary research as a US priority.

That's very rough, but what you're telling us, tell your prospective employer. If they don't like what you're telling them, then you probably won't like them either. If they do, then you probably will.

In the end, trying to present yourself to anyone as what you think they want you to be is a losing game. All you will get is people who are looking for people that they can manipulate and control.

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In general terms, no one like radicals, except other radicals. Give your experience as it stands and leave out any philosophy unless you know that the people interviewing would be receptive to your ideas.

In saying that it is fine to mention your interests, it only becomes uncomfortable (for me anyway) when you're stressing points that are not directly related to the work you're being hired for. An example is I interviewed a chap who had just finished studying at a theological college. That's great, but he kept bringing up God in the interview, which wasn't. He didn't get the job although his skills and experience were marginally better than the chap who did.

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    I'm hearing that it's best to extract the applicable qualities of my otherwise unrelated work history, and it's that common ground that needs to be emphasized. – 12345678910111213 Jan 31 '16 at 7:05
  • I think you said it better than me. – Kilisi Jan 31 '16 at 7:25

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