We’ve talked before about the social-change landscape: the growing variety of organizations putting an emphasis on creating a better world. But what if you want to work for one of these organizations? What are the current opportunities? Below is an overview of the private sector jobs that give back and resources to get involved.
Changes in the private sector and social entrepreneurship
The past couple of decades have played host to a dramatic convergence of technological advances, greater environmental and social awareness, and shifts in the way we think about the purposes and methods of working. These changes have set the stage for a wave of new corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability jobs in companies, and for benefit corporations (or B Corps) to spring up all over the world with new opportunities for work. Corporate foundations are also steadily rebounding after the 2008 fiscal crisis; more companies than ever are recognizing the value of a “triple bottom line” (“people, planet, profit”) approach; and many newer fields—such as sustainable design, renewable energy, microfinance, venture philanthropy, and green building—have had great success forwarding CSR goals in recent years, while turning a profit.
Much has been written about this phenomenon, and reading up a bit can be good background when you’re beginning a job search. For a small sample, see these takes by Rick Spence, Ilya Pozin, and Fast Company.
Types of jobs
But what do all of these changes mean for the do-gooder looking for a job? Some of the jobs available have been around for awhile—in fields like philanthropy, international development, and education—and others that are newer to the scene—in corporate impact, crowdfunding, clean tech, and others. Net Impact, a nonprofit that helps business school students and professionals leverage their talent for social change, does a stellar breakdown of popular private sector jobs for good in the Field Overviews section of their Career Center. Get a simple but detailed look at careers that have been around
Questions to consider
As you search for social impact jobs in the private sector, investigate the commitment of businesses that interest you to social responsibility and a culture of innovation. To start, explore our five lens approach to examine the different entryways to a new career. Also, JustMeans, Climate Counts, and the National Green Pages are all excellent resources for research.
There are also considerations outside the straight-up job search process:
- Think about whether a fellowship could be a good fit for you right now. Ashoka, Echoing Green, Encore.org, and ProInspire are a few all-star organizations offering fellowships for outstanding social entrepreneurs.
- Many MBA and other traditionally private sector-focused graduate school programs are branching out to include working for good in their curricula. Read more in Net Impact’s Business as UNusual guide and the Aspen Institute’s biennial rankings of MBA programs focused on impact work, and consider your options.
- There are dozens of professional and networking associations for people in common-good careers. Check out the Social Enterprise Alliance, Social Venture Network, and University Network for Social Entrepreneurship for some great examples.
- Brown University’s Careers in the Common Good
- Dartmouth University’s Career Services Information on Social Enterprise Careers
- Duke University’s Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship
- Harvard University’s Social Enterprise Initiative
- NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service Career Resources
- Stanford University’s Center for Social Innovation