The well-trodden path for business graduates has long been a career with a well-respected business or organisation offering solid career prospects and financial incentives.
But that's changing. A quiet revolution is taking place in the workplace. A desire to improve society and address inequalities is no longer the preserve of a young, student populace. It's now the belief of those young people entering the workplace in graduate-level jobs, and of young entrepreneurs setting up their first business.
The growth of the social enterprise economy is attracting bright young minds to innovate, with a view to matching profit with purpose. However, change is coming from the corporate world as well.
Boardroom leaders increasingly understand the business case for instilling a sense of social purpose into their organisations. By committing to make positive social change, not just profit, these organisations are increasingly reaping the benefit of recruiting the best graduates, who in turn are keen to work for businesses giving back to the community.
But how do you make that step into a more purposeful career? Here are some tips to help you choose a career that can make a positive impact on society.
Do Your Research
There’s no substitute for initiative, so do your research before applying for jobs. Read news reports on your target employers and review their annual reports. Look online for CSR reports and sustainability policies. You’ll soon get a feel for how much value different companies and organisations place on social issues and corporate responsibility.
Build Your Experience
Apply for work placements and internships, but don't restrict yourself to the big traditional employers. Look at gaining some work experience with local social enterprises or other third sector organisations to give yourself a better view of the spectrum of work that's available.
Get Your Hands Dirty
As well building up your work experience credentials, if you’re serious about making a difference, then look for volunteering opportunities that enable you to address social inequalities at first hand. Many third sector organisations will welcome the offer of help with open arms.
Build Your Network
Just like any other career, it’s important to build your knowledge and understanding from people, not just books or the internet. Take advantage of any opportunities to meet or network with people who are working in a community-focused or CSR role within business.
Do Your Own Thing
If you care passionately about a particular social issue, then why not seize the moment and do something about it yourself. Start with the issue and then develop a business idea that can help you address it. The good news is that there’s plenty of support out there to help you get started – from Edinburgh Innovations for Students or FreshSight to grant providers such as CAN Invest and O2 Think Big, to social investment providers such as Social Investment Scotland and Big Issue Invest, and plenty of others besides.