Seen these icons?

If we have events, jobs or news that are relevant to the page topic, you can access them by clicking on icons next to the print button.

Careers Beyond Profit | Careers Beyond Profit – Oxford University Careers Service
Oxford logo
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 is a one year paid leadership 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.

Alternatives ways to live 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?


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).


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.


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.


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)
  • One World Group – small international jobs site
  • 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 06 January 2017.
Loading... Please wait
Recent blogs about Careers Beyond Profit

Insight into Teaching – apply now for 9th week school placements

Blogged by Abby Evans on January 18, 2017.

Insight into Teaching offers the opportunity to spend three days in a UK school with a full programme of lesson observation, getting involved with activities and possibly the chance to try out some teaching. An ideal way to explore whether teaching is for you, gain experience to boost an application, and to gain insights into life in a UK school.

The programme takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of 9th week this term, 14-16 March 2017.

Available places are offered on a first-come, first-served basis up to the closing date of Friday of 5th week, 17 February 2017, so apply early to avoid disappointment. Apply via Career Connect (select Internship Office & Skills Programmes, and search for Insight into Teaching HT17).

Placements are available in schools across Oxford and beyond, in most subjects, and applications are open to all current matriculated students at Oxford University.


Creative Careers Week – third week Trinity!

Blogged by John Gilbert on January 10, 2017.

Get inspiration for your future career at our series of events from Monday 31 January to Friday 4 February…

FutureRising: Careers in Advertising

  • When: Monday 3rd week, 14.00-16.30
  • Where: The Careers Service

Learn from advertising industry experts about the creation of an advertising campaign. Hear from industry professionals about different stages of the process:

  • How agencies prepare for the ‘pitch’ and what it takes to win the business;
  • From client to execution, and the role of the Account Manager;
  • Getting the campaign out to the audience and how the impact is measured.

This exciting workshop, hosted by our sector partners FutureRising, offers you the chance to hear direct from professionals at top advertising agencies and gives you the chance to take on a real advertising brief and get feedback on your work, get some top tips on getting a job in the sector and have your questions answered.

Sign up on the FutureRising site. Link to follow soon.

Careers in Publishing

  • When: Tuesday 3rd week, 14.00-17.00
  • Where: The Careers Service

Information to follow: book now on CareerConnect

Careers in Journalism: Mock Newsroom

  • When: Thursday 3rd week, 14.00-16.00
  • Where: IT Services

Expect to be actively engaged throughout this fun and fast-paced workshop aimed both at aspiring journalists and anyone interested in trying out journalism for the first time?

Budding reporters will have the chance to experience what it’s like to work on a breaking news story in this immersive workshop run by national press agency News Associates. See how you cope under pressure and find out if you have what it takes to meet the challenge of creating and refreshing your story as new information comes into News Associates’ simulated newsroom. Every attendee will get individual feedback and there will also be time set aside for career advice and information about routes into journalism careers. PCs are provided at IT Services, but please bring your own laptop if you’d like to keep your work.

Book now on CareerConnect

Heritage: Research and Writing for Trusted Source

  • When: Friday 3rd week, 14.00-15.30
  • Where: The Careers Service

Further information to follow. No booking required.

Securing an Internship in Arts & Heritage

  • When: Friday 3rd week, 15.30-16.30
  • Where: The Careers Service

Further information to follow. No booking required.

International Careers Day 2017

Blogged by John Gilbert on January 10, 2017.
  • When: Saturday 21 January 2017, 11.00-15.00
  • Where: The Blavatnik School of Government

Find a global career at our biggest fair of Hilary

  • Explore international careers  – from postgraduate study to policy consulting, and from international development to diplomacy.
  • Meet over 30 exhibitors at the fair, and attend presentations about their opportunities.
  • Learn from professionals at our two panel talks – about working with international organisations.
  • Get your CV checked at our International Development CV Clinic! Slots open for booking on CareerConnect from Wednesday 18 January.


Fair booklet now available online

Download the preview of our fair booklet to see details about exhibitors at the fair.

Organisations attending include:

  • Adam Smith International
  • ATD Fourth World
  • BARBRI International
  • Carfax Education
  • College of Europe
  • Crown Agents
  • Diplomatic Academy of Vienna – Vienna School of International Studies
  • French Embassy and Institut Franҫais du Royaume-Uni
  • Fulbright Commission
  • Global Academy Jobs
  • Guiyang Prime International Academy (贵阳普瑞国际公学)
  • Hertie School of Governance
  • Infosys Ltd.
  • INSEAD PhD in Management
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • The Internship Office – Oxford University Internship Office
  • Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program at Stanford University
  • Oxford Analytica Ltd
  • Oxford Policy Management
  • Perm State University
  • Schwarzman Scholars
  • SOAS University of London
  • Study Options
  • Terre des hommes Foundation
  • TPP
  • Tsinghua University Education Poverty Alleviation Office
  • University of Oxford, Alumni Office
  • University of Oxford, Student Fees and Funding, Student Affairs
  • The World Bank Group

Panel talks

Policy and Practice Work with International Organisations

12:15 – 13:15 

Come and hear about the myths and realities of working in the development sector. Our speakers  have worked with a variety of organisations and will give candid accounts of the steps they took after University, what has enabled them to move into rewarding roles and advice about any changes in their sector affecting recruitment trends.


  • Dr Carla Ferstman, Director of REDRESS human rights organisation,
  • Dr Anna McCord, formerly ODI, economist, independent consultant for DFID and others on public works and governance programmes
  • Dr Terry Roopnarain, OPM, anthropologist specialising in social development and gender
  • Dr Leslie Groves, formerly DFID, independent organisational change expert specialising in inclusion and human rights


Research and Strategy Roles in Governance and Development

14:30 – 15:30

Working at the interface between research, strategy and implementation sounds exciting and rewarding – but what is it really like? What are the stepping stones following a degree at Oxford? And which skills and competencies count for joining or working alongside major international organisations today? Speakers in this panel will share their experiences and insights from their career journeys and current roles.


  • Mr Sam Daws,  Director, Project on UN Governance and Reform, Oxford, and former First Officer to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
  • Dr Annette Idler,  Director of Studies, Changing Character of War Programme, Senior Research Fellow at Pembroke College and DPIR, Latin American Centre Affiliate, University of Oxford; and Research Associate at the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding, Graduate Institute Geneva
  • Dr Neil McCullough, independent consultant in economics and governance, formerly Asia Foundation, Oxford Policy Management

Organisation Presentations

11:00 – 12:00: The World Bank
11:05 – 11:20: TPP
11:25 – 11:40: BARBRI International
11:45 – 12:00: Infosys Ltd.
12:00 – 12:30: OU Internship Office
12:05 – 12:20: INSEAD PhD in Management
12:25 – 12:40: Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program at Stanford University
12:35 – 13:05: Schwarzman Scholars
12:45 – 13:00: Tsinghua University Education Poverty Alleviation Office
13:05 – 13:20: Fulbright Commission
13:25 – 13:40: Oxford Analytica Ltd
13:45 – 14.00: Adam Smith International
13:45 – 14:05: Oxford Policy Management
14:05 – 14:20: Crown Agents
14:10 – 14:40: ICRC
14:25 – 14:40: Diplomatic Academy of Vienna – Vienna School of International Studies
14:45 – 15:00: Global Academy Jobs
15:05 – 15:20: Carfax Education

International Careers Day 2017 – save the date!

Blogged by John Gilbert on December 20, 2016.
  • When: Saturday 21 January 2017, 11.00-15.00
  • Where: The Blavatnik School of Government

Hilary Term sees one of our biggest careers fairs, for students and researchers looking for an international career. We’ll have representatives from a whole range of sectors, with a particular emphasis on international development, governance, consultancy and further study – with exhibitors, organisation presentations and panel talks.

To get a taste for the organisations that attend see last year’s fair booklet – and watch this space for 2017’s!

Koreo Prize: national storytelling competition

Blogged by Claire Chesworth on December 7, 2016.

Koreo is the new name for Vanilla Ventures, the talent development organisation responsible for Charityworks, the UK non-profit sector’s graduate scheme, and Change 100, the paid summer internship programme for disabled students.

The Koreo Prize exists to give young critical thinkers the opportunity to share perspectives on one or more of six issues affecting modern society, aligned with the UN’s Global Goals: gender equality, social mobility, food security, community resilience, well-being and social housing.  Applicants will approach social issues in a way that embraces their complexity, bringing them to life through a story or series of stories. Submissions will be judged by a panel of high profile experts from across the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Further information is on the Koreo Prize website; the closing date is 3rd April 2017.

This page displays current related blog posts. If none display, you can still stay up-to-date with our newsletter sent regularly to all Oxford students.

Older posts can be found in our archive of past blogs.