10 years ago, if you wanted to get into the social impact/social enterprise sector, it was enough to say “I think I want to find ways to take a business approach to solving social problems. That makes so much sense!”
5 years ago, if you wanted to do this work you needed to show that you had some direct, relevant experience, a spike of some sort that allowed folks to connect the dots between things that you’ve done and the work you’re proposing to do now.
Today, the expectation is significant direct experience that matters.
If you want to work with social enterprises in the developing world, the expectation is that you’ve spent real time in the developing world doing related work – a couple of years, not a couple of months.
If you want to be a marketer for a great cause, the pool of applicants shooting for that job have been in the great cause marketing business for a while already.
If you want to invest overseas, the expectation is that you have both investing chops and a direct understanding of the markets and businesses you’d like to invest in.
The great news is, unlike 10 years ago, when you had to a make a giant leap, there are countless opportunities for smoother, more gradual transitions.
To start, it’s never been easier to form a group and take free online courses for social changemakers. Our +Acumen courses are designed for just this, and in the next month you can learn about Lean Data Approaches to Measure Social Impact, Storytelling for Change (available in English or Spanish), and Social Entrepreneurship 101.
Or maybe your path will take you to a mainstream firm that offers a rich set of pro-bono opportunities—like those offered by Bain, Ernst and Young, and PWC—or you’ll go to one of many progressive nonprofits that work with big companies—including Taproot Foundation, TechnoServe, Bankers without Borders and MovingWorlds.
Or you could work directly for a social enterprise: right now Burn, Esoko, and Seed Schools are all hiring.
And of course nearly all the top MBA programs now have social enterprise offerings, including Kellogg School of Management, Stanford Graduate School of Business, The Wharton School, Duke Fuqua School of Business, Yale School of Management and Harvard Business School.
This is what happens when a sector goes from “brand new” to “adolescent.”
Today, the bar is higher, but so are the opportunities to help you get over it.
(Big thanks to Duda and Ashley for helping me get this post over the line)