You’re here because you want to do good. You want to stay informed. You want to take actions that help instead of hurt the world around you.
Perhaps, you are even inspired to make doing good your full-time gig. But creating the career you want takes more than good ideas and good feelings.
Here are a few lessons from our career blog, Idealist Careers.
1. You have to jump in. Have you ever volunteered? No? Try it. Volunteering is one the best things you can do for a social impact career. Know anyone who works in the social sector? Talk to them about their path. And, if you really want to dig in, try an internship. You’re never too old for an internship.
The point is to get your hands dirty and figure things out. Get involved in the sector as a learner and doer. It isn’t until you start exploring that you realize what you want to do, and where you’ll fit in.
2. You have to be ready to fail. For every story of a successful social entrepreneur, there are countless others who never got their big idea off the ground (or, as James Altucher calls them, the Jack Zuckerbergs of the world).
For example, Anne Desoriers was full of passion and purpose so she decided to launch a nonprofit. And it failed. But, she’s rethinking and re-learning what it means to give back in a way that is authentic to her and the community she seeks to serve. But, she still feels the sting of failing. You will too if you want to be an entrepreneur, intra-preneur, or any kind of changemaker. You want to shake things up; be prepared to fail.
3. You have to develop your own form of leadership. Say the word “leader” and people immediately think of outgoing, gregarious people who know how to inspire a team and can quickly arrive at big decisions. In other words, they think of extroverts. But the qualities of effective leadership—critical in a sector where people are often relying on your work to help them live better lives—are found in introverts, extroverts, and everyone in between. Harness what makes you an effective leader.
4. You have to seek help. Get a mentor. Or several advisors. Yes, this easier said than done, which is why you need to be clear about what kind of help you need. But the point is to not try to do it alone. You are part of a community of people who give a damn. Take advantage of that and build your network.
5. You have to set your boundaries. Yes, doing good is good for the soul. But so is a decent salary, a warm place to work, and respect from your colleagues. Do you know what makes YOU happy as a professional? Figure it out and choose your job wisely.
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