Clarifying Your Mission: The First Step to Making Social Impact Careers Happen
Editor's note: This is the fourth post in a series highlighting some of the most high-impact and replicable innovations in social entrepreneurship education through the lens of the 2013 Ashoka U – Cordes Innovation Awards winners.
“How can I be a Marxist and still own a Jacuzzi?”
That essential question drove my career as well as the job search for many of the students I’ve counseled over the years. Whether as social entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs, we felt we were ready to uplift the human spirit and alleviate poverty and suffering on our planet through enterprise—and to do so while not starving either! But in reality, few of us were prepared to take on that challenge.
Sure, we all dream of noble purposes, but what exactly are those “noble purposes?” If you don’t know what they are, if you can’t be specific about them, it will be hard for you or for anyone else to help you to turn those noble intentions into pragmatic actions. Saying “I want to work in sustainability” doesn’t get you—or anyone trying to help you—very far.
The key is to turn your vague desire for meaningful work into a specific mission. “I was in Asia last summer and saw the dorsal fins cut off of sharks for soup,” one of my students recently told me. “The sharks were then thrown back into the water and drowned. I don’t want to see that happen any more.”
See the difference?
The problem is that few of us are this clear. Last year I spent three hours with 70 Boston-based MBA graduates, working in small groups to help them find their missions. When we started only two of these 28- to 35-year-olds could express who they were and what they wanted in front of the group.
At the B corp More Than Money Careers, we have developed a three-step systematic program to help users “get clear, get connected and get hired” for well-paying social impact jobs that fit their values. The program is delivered through our online, on-demand library of 10-minute multimedia modules. In 2012, 30 universities signed on to implement the program alongside their current career-center offerings. Today, modules are available directly to end-users through a Netflix-like rental program, with a new mobile app and more coming later this year.
The unique MTM Careers 12-module program was created by co-founder and co-managing director, Dr. Mrim Boutla, a Ph.D. neuroscientist turned career coach at Brown and Indiana Universities. The key innovation is that the program is designed to make the impact-career (off campus) job search as easy as the traditional (on campus) career job search.
We have been tracking salary data the past three years for our MBA students in SustainableEnterprise. The data show that students are being paid competitive MBA salaries and often more for jobs that are impact-driven than those who are not.
The MTM Career library has three steps with four modules each. Success is highly dependent on students doing the first step—finding clarity. To do so, Dr. Boutla designed the “Career Opportunity Map” (depicted below) to organize the seemingly endless number of possibilities that ultimately confuse most students. Students are guided to find their “sweet spot”—the cell that represents the “triple fit” for their passions, skills and preferred culture.
The first consideration is what type of impact you want to have, and in what sector (early education, global health, etc.); the second is what type of community you want to work in (government, nonprofits, for-profit social enterprises, etc.); and the third is the function or skill set you want to employ (operations, finance, marketing, etc.).
Once you’re clear, you can use LinkedIn to fill all the cells on the map with hot links to professionals (for a university, each cell is filled with alums) so that if students need further help “getting clear,” they can connect with someone doing that kind of job in the real-world. The MTM Careers program further teaches you how to have a virtual coffee with potential connectors and employers via social media, and how to close the deal with materials and in interviews.
MTM Careers has unbundled careers services for students, letting them select and use what they want, when they want it and how they want to. As a metaphor, rather than going to symphony hall for a concert, we offer you access to the “iTunes of Career Services for Impact-Driven Careers.”
Hope you’ll come play!
Click here to read more posts in the Ashoka U- Cordes Innovation Awards series.