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An overview

Deciding how your own values and beliefs will impact on your career choice is a very personal consideration. The information below aims to explore the idea of ‘doing good’ with your career – and focuses on organisations with social or environmental goals from the non-profit, public and private sectors. Opportunities which relate to your values can be found in all of these industries. For example, the private sector includes social enterprises, community interest companies, companies with CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) teams, SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) organisations and firms which have strong principles and values on the social/environmental impact of their work.

Defining your values

If you’re looking to ‘do good’ with your career, it can help to first consider what ‘doing good’ means to you. This can provide a useful career focus.

Try the following to help:

  1. Write a list of any of the following:
    • Volunteer or paid work that you’ve done which you consider ‘did good’
    • Causes that you actively support, or have done in the past
    • Individuals you know of who you think ‘do good’ with their career
    • Organisations or companies you know of who you feel ‘do good’
  2. For each, try to briefly define what ‘good’ was done.
  3. Consider the definitions of ‘good’ you’ve just written.  Are there any themes emerging which could help to pinpoint your values? Reflecting on this exercise can help you clarify where your values lie – and may also help to define other aspects that are important to you in a career.
Finding jobs

Working out what suits you

As well as your values, there are many other aspects that make up the ‘ingredients’ for fulfilling work. A job which doesn’t suit you, even in a context which fits your values well, can be an unhappy prospect. Take the time to think about:

  • Your skills – which do you like to use? What would you like to develop?
  • Your environment – buzzing and competitive? Supportive and personal? Concentrated and focused?
  • Your work-life balance
  • Location, salary

Generating Career Ideas

To investigate more about what would suit you, read our page on Generating Career Ideas, which contains resources, questionnaires and exercises to help you figure out what might suit you.

Job hunting

Vacancy Websites

There are a selection of job vacancy websites for cause-driven work listed in ‘External Resources’ on this briefing, and these should be supplemented with sector-specific resources. For example, if you’re really motivated to work in an environmentally impactful field, you can find many specific sites for job hunting via our Environmental Work page.

Graduate Schemes

Although a few graduate schemes do exist in charities, environmental organisations, arts organisations and so on (see the relevant sector pages for information), the high costs of training schemes mean that they are unusual in this area. A few more general schemes are listed below:

  • Fujitsu’s graduate scheme has opportunities to get involved in CSR projects
  • On Purpose runs a one year paid Associate Programme in social enterprise (only open to those with a minimum of 2 years full time work)

Speculative approaches

These are vital, as many organisations keep costs low by not advertising vacancies. Check individual organisation websites, and set up coffee chats with those working in some of your most favoured organisations to ask more about the work and the role – and ask whether they could let you know if they hear of any opportunities. See our guide to networking for more.

Alternative ways to fulfil your values

Sometimes it’s not possible to find work, at least initially, which meets all your interests, skills and has the ethical impact that you’re looking for. A good example is the field of Human Rights Law – there are many years of more general legal training and work ahead before you can begin to specialise in this application for your knowledge. So how do you keep your values fulfilled?

Volunteering

One of the best ways to connect with your values is to consider some volunteering around your other work/study.  You can see the variety of UK volunteering opportunities on Do-It.

Contact local ‘hubs’ to find out about more opportunities for voluntary work (if you’re here at the moment, Oxford Hub and OCVA are good places to get in touch with, as well as the work centred around the council-owned community centres, and properties housing many local charities, such as the Old Music Hall on Cowley Road).

Campaigning

Becoming an active campaigner can involve anything from harnessing online and social media activity, right through to in-person support for meetings and demonstrations. Connecting with campaigning hubs (examples include 38 Degrees and Avaaz) can provide you with the opportunity to participate in organised campaigning, and many larger organisations will provide resources for those that would like to further the campaign on a local or regional level.

Philanthropy

If you have the resources to donate financially, you can do a significant amount of good for the causes you care about. Individual giving can also be supplemented by working to encourage donation from those around you by organising fundraising events and sharing information.

Giving What We Can is an Oxford organisation dedicated to providing information and encouragement for those seeking to give effectively. A similar organisation also considering giving time and energy is Give More. A US-orientated equivalent, giving recommendations on charities to donate to is Give Well.

Intrapreneurship

Creating change within an institution is something all of us do in work, even in a minor way. If where you are working initially doesn’t meet your values, perhaps your enthusiasm can begin to influence a shift. From connecting with like-minded staff to discuss ideas, to creating business cases for them, you might be surprised how much impact you could (diplomatically!) make.

Investigating an employer's ethics

You can research by using an organisation’s website:

  • Reading their annual report (often available on their website – environmental/sustainability reports have been required by law since 2006).
  • Reviewing their organisational values, behaviours or mission statement – often in the ‘about us’ section of their website.
  • Researching their impacts and outputs – from learning how and if they share information with others, to evaluating the effects of their core work in light of your values.
  • Investigating their staff policies: often found near the vacancy section of their website. This might include details of their commitment to equality of opportunity, training and support, volunteering days, child-friendly workplace details and more.

The following alphabetical listing of websites provides a brief sample of research tools that may help you to investigate the policies and practices of particular companies.

It should be noted that they are drawn from a variety of sectors, and exist for a variety of different aims, so their relationships with (and perspectives on) companies may differ considerably. Some are independent organisations that are openly critical of major companies, while others are drawn from the business world, and will provide information on particular schemes and partnerships. They by no means provide absolute answers, but are hopefully useful for your investigations:

Our resources

Subscription websites

  • Ethical Jobs – a series of websites which we subscribe to on your behalf

Podcasts of past events

Careers with Social & Community Impact

This podcast will give you the chance to hear from three speakers who are all working in quite different roles but whose work makes an impact on their local communities.

External resources

Vacancy websites

  • Idealist – global search engine (use ‘United Kingdom’ in ‘Location’ for British jobs)
  • Guardian Jobs – attracts a large number of organisations seeking to improve social outcomes, as a result of its paper supplement ‘Society Jobs’
  • ACRE – CSR and sustainability jobs board
  • Elevator – jobs in charities, social enterprises and other ‘purpose driven’ companies
  • Social Enteprise UK – job board
  • Igneous Recruitment – CSR and sustainability jobs

Other useful websites

Regular events

This information was last updated on 21 September 2017.
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Recent blogs about Careers Beyond Profit

International internships with Ashinaga

Posted on behalf of Ashinaga. Blogged by Julia Hilton on November 16, 2017.
  • When: 23 November 2017, 17:00 – 18:00
  • Where: The Careers Service, 56 Banbury Road

Ashinaga is the third largest charitable organisation in Japan. In the past 45 years Ashinaga has raised over $1bn to enable more than 100,000 orphaned students to complete higher education in Japan. Ashinaga offers over 100 internships a year in our Japan, Uganda, and Senegal offices throughout the year. These internships are largely focused on the Ashinaga Africa Initiative. This is an academic leadership program that aims to provide an opportunity for higher education at the world’s leading institutions of higher education to orphaned students from 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The goal of the program is to nurture future leaders who will contribute to democratic realization, economic development, and poverty eradication in their home countries post-graduation. One outstanding student from each Sub-Saharan African country will be selected to join the program every year. Ashinaga will provide these students with the training, opportunities, and finances necessary to study at academic institutions around the world.

Students from all disciplines are welcome to attend this short presentation, after which there will be time for questions with the President of Ashinaga, the former head of our Ugandan office, and ex-interns who now work in our Tokyo office. Students with an interest in Africa, Japan, development, education, leadership, and the third sector are particularly welcome.

Find out more on Ashinaga’s website.

Careers for the “greater good”

Blogged by Abby Evans on November 7, 2017.

Many students aspire to make a difference, to “do good” with their career. Here we share a few ideas and resources to get you started, see also our key resource for Careers Beyond Profit.

What does “good” look like to you?

Think for a moment…. Is there something you’ve done already that you feel ‘did good’? Are there causes that you actively support? Which role models (celeb or real!) do you feel ‘do good’? Are there organisations that you feel ‘do good’? Identify common themes that emerge, and start to work towards your own definition of good. Struggling? Perhaps a philosophical framework might help –some basic reading on consequentialism, virtue ethics and deontology (duty-based ethics) might get you thinking.

Clarify your values

What is important to you? You are more likely to have a fulfilled career if your values align with those of the organisation that you work with. Values include things like integrity, status, respect, community, equality, independence, fairness, honesty, ambition. See our Careers Workbook for help with thinking through the values that are important to you.

Explore opportunities that match your aims

Many think of charities, the public sector or social enterprises when considering careers that make a difference, but opportunities can exist in the private sector too. Focusing on certain sectors can help your research…but it’s worth thinking about the role that suits you too.

Some key resources:

  • Linked In, particularly the career insights of 180,000+ Oxford alumni on the University of Oxford Linked In page, is a tremendous research tool – try a keyword search (CSR (corporate social responsibility), sustainability etc) to discover alumni with shared interests, and get in touch for insights.
  • Listen to alumni talk about their careers, not-for-profit sectors included.
  • Consider a public sector or charity sector graduate scheme: Think Ahead, Frontline, Teach First, Police Now, Unlocked, Civil Service Fast-stream, National Graduate Development Programme for Local Government, NHS graduate management scheme etc.
  • Explore opportunities to volunteer while you are at Oxford.

For more advice and many more links to resources to help you, see also our information on  Careers Beyond Profit.

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