26 October 2020

Want to make 6 figures AND a positive impact?
Start with these 3 steps.

By Lily Partridge

When it comes to your career, there’s a common misconception that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. 

In this case, your cake is a financially-stable job with a deliciously thick layer of emotional fulfilment on top. Yum.

The thing is, somewhere along the road, society adopted this notion that stability and sustainability were mutually exclusive; that making a difference in the world required some sort of horrible sacrifice: time, money, comfort, career advancement…But then you hit your thirties 30 and exchange your dreams of changing the world for a mortgage and a savings account for your kids’ education. 

Harsh? Maybe. But how many 35 year olds do you see voluntouring in Ethiopia in their spare time? Incidentally, how many 35 year olds have “spare time”?

But what if you could changing the world in your 9-5, saving that spare time (and those spare dollars) while you’re at it? When it comes to work, the idea that a company can balance purpose and profit still falls outside most people’s radars, despite the fact that the sector doing this is one of the fastest growing in the world.

Social Enterprise is the cake… and you can eat it every, single, day. 

In 2020, the term ‘Social Enterprise’ feels almost as ubiquitous as it’s other social counterparts (social impact, social media, social distancing…), but the reality is that because it uses a business model, many still can’t fully wrap their heads around it. 

Organisations of all sizes are adopting initiatives to contribute to positive social and environmental change, ranging from CSR and annual donations, to sending their employees on external secondments. It’s no surprise that staff, particularly younger staff, are increasingly demanding more from their employers and actively seek out companies with commitments that align to their values. 

While putting consumer and internal pressure on the big players does force a glacial shift towards business-for-good, it’s the young and agile Social Enterprise that’s already ahead in the game. The big difference between Social Enterprise and other for-profit companies is that the financial bottom line is just as important as the social or environmental benefits, so there’s no sacrifice…you’re getting ahead and enabling others while you’re at it. Yeah, your cake has never tasted so good.

So, you’ve decided that Social Enterprise is the emotionally- and economically-rewarding solution to your career woes: but where to start?

Like any corporate career, you have to build it from the ground up, developing the skills and experiences to get you through the door, and the sooner you start, the better. 

It can be hard to know how to crack your way into the impact ecosystem, so here are 3 ways to get well on your way to career security and actual job satisfaction:

1. Discover what’s actually out there!

As a rapidly growing, emerging industry, Social Enterprise jobs and opportunities won’t be in the spotlight 24/7. Do your research into the companies that are already established in the space, and certifiably so. Subscribe to groups, events, talks, e-newsletters, and podcasts to start building your professional networking and understanding what working in Social Enterprise is all about.

Top tip:
B Corp and Social Traders Australia have directories of all their certified organisations on their websites, with the different ways they enable impact using business.

 

2. Build industry-specific skills.

These days, a degree can only get you to the door – your skills and experience are what gets you through it. The more you know about the available roles and opportunities within the industry, the more you can tailor your upskilling to the career of your dreams. If you’re still at uni, look at electives or minors you can take with your degree to make the most of your time studying, or sign up for some free short online courses that you can complete in your free time.

Top tip: Majority of Social Enterprises are small-to-medium-sized, and many are startups, meaning you’ll likely have to be a jack of all trades. If you don’t have a business background, it’s not a deal breaker but it definitely helps, so tailor your upskilling to get across the basics.

 

3. Get some real experience.

They may be philanthropic, but Social Enterprise employers don’t lower their standards when it comes to recruitment. Real-world experience is essential to not only stand out from other applicants, but to discover whether the space really is for you, build a professional network, and help refine your job search. 

There are a myriad of ways to get career-ready experience: internships, practical placements, online short courses (see above), leadership programs, volunteering (yes, this is still okay to do!), and getting involved with societies and events. Yes, it will be harder to find purpose-driven work experience, but do your research into the companies promoting their opportunities.

Top tip: Do a LinkedIn stalk of people who are currently working in your dream role at a range of different companies. Specifically, look at their previous experience and top skills to see how they got where they are today. You can tailor your own personal and professional development to suit moving forward.

 

Once you’ve got all that knowledge, skill and experience under your belt, you’ll be well and truly on track for an awesome, fulfilling future career, especially if you get started while you’re still at uni (why wait till you’re retired and ready to “finally give back”?).

My last piece of advice is something they rarely tell you about working in Social Enterprise: sadly no, it’s not all smiles and sparkles, and you don’t get to don a cape every morning. Like almost every other role, it’s got its ups and downs, but the biggest benefit of all is knowing that everything you do everyday is working towards something bigger…and that’s the cherry on top.

Want to get a taste of Social Enterprise whilst building essential skills and real-world experience?
Apply for a spot on a Virtual, Rural or Global Impact Program to consult alongside Social Enterprises driving change in ways more exponential and sustainable than ever before.

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