I wake up, put on my business attire, check some emails over coffee and head down the road to the office like millions of people around the world. The only difference is that this is not a big corporation in a city like Zurich, but rather a fastgrowing tech startup in Zambia.
While this might seem like a rather unusual career choice for some, it is definitely not uncommon for a growing number of young people aiming to make a difference through their career. The pattern is transversal and surpasses national borders or social groups: more than 50% of millennials are willing to take a pay cut to find a job that matches their values and over 90% wanting to use their skills for good. And it is not just young people who are increasingly veering towards new kind of careers, but also a significant number of MBA students around the world are choosing social impact over salary, taking positions in effective and innovative organizations that address social problems.
Career development and sense of purpose
But I did not know much about this back in 2014. I was a mechanical engineering student looking for a summer job, with the usual suspects as prospective opportunities: big tech companies and consulting. I never considered joining a non-profit organization. I did not see many professional development opportunities in the third sector, and when I came across the Summerpreneurship program, the first thought that crossed my mind was if this opportunity to do something that matched my values would actually help me in the future.
Impact Hub Zürich’s Summerpreneurship program offered the possibility for students to do a summer internership with a startup while learning about entrepreneurship and how to follow a career with impact. Without knowing it I was concerned about the same things as most of the people my age: career development and sense of purpose.
The job world has changed
Careers in the twenty-first century are fundamentally different than everything we have seen before. Employees at any of Henry Ford’s factories did not spend much time thinking about career development or sense of purpose, nor did most of the people working on the white-collar jobs that followed. But even despite the dramatic changes that are shaking the fundamentals of our economy, people do not change mindset overnight. Many young people still feel uncomfortable about making choices that are not completely aligned with what has until very recently been considered the norm. This was certainly my case, but I decided to give it a try.
Participating in the Summerpreneuship program with highly skilled peers that share a similar mindset but come from different backgrounds is a truly enriching experience, especially for students that spend most of their time enclosed within their own subject. Having a business student from Italy, an engineer from Switzerland and 3D artist from Venezuela interacting together in a coworking space is not something that many people experience during their studies, but these are the kind of eclectic environments we can find in the world’s most innovative organizations.
More than just an internship
I made lifelong friends, learned that profit and purpose are not at odds and experienced for the first time what the future of work looks like. Now I know that what I saw during that summer was, in fact, not that unique and that similar ideas were emerging all over the world. What I saw and heard during my time at Impact Hub are things that I have been encountering over and over again through my career in places as disparate as San Francisco and Zambia. Seeing people with entirely different backgrounds on opposite sides of the world having similar aspirations is what made me understand that this is not just a trend, this is the future, and the future is now.
If you want to find your future and even date your future boss, you can join one of our two Meet & Match events (for eco/social or tech startups) on March 17 or/and March 22 to get to know the participating startups and their 20+ open internship position for this year’s Summerpreneurship program (application deadline is March 31).
Pere Molins, Impact Enterprises