How to Become a Social Entrepreneur Without Leaving Your Day Job

February 3, 2016, 8:15 PM UTC
Interview With Warby Parker Retail Inc. Co-Founders Neil Blumenthal & Dave Gilboa
David Gilboa, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of eyewear retailer Warby Parker Retail Inc., right, and fellow co-founder and co-chief executive officer Neil Blumenthal listen during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. They discussed competition in the online prescription eyeglass space. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Victor J. Blue — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Article after article has shown that millennials are the most purpose driven generation. We value purpose over the size of our paycheck, demand meaningful work, and are consistently on the hunt for new ways to change the world. Enter the social entrepreneur.

Millennials are also called the most entrepreneurial generation ever. After watching our parents get booted out of work during the recession, we millennials are highly skeptical of corporate America. This skepticism, combined with the meteoric success of millennial entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg, has convinced many of us that being a social entrepreneur is the only way to defend ourselves against corporate downsizing.

Thus, social entrepreneurship is one of the hottest fields a millennial can be involved in. But, there is another way to pursue meaning at work without taking on the risk and unpredictability of entrepreneurship. Social intrapreneurship refers to the process of creating new cause driven initiatives within a traditional company. Now that you understand social intrapreneurship, let’s explore how you can transition your career in this direction:

Help your company create a social good program

Millennials prefer cause based products, are willing to pay more for them, and demonstrate strong brand loyalty to companies who weave social good into their stories. Traditional companies know this and are responding by creating new initiatives to reach millennials. So, chances are strong that your company will be open to your ideas for social intrapreneurship. For example, you could help launch a paid volunteer program like the one Timberland employees enjoy, help market a new line of products that give back, or help your branding department better tell your company’s social good story.

If you need to jump ship, here are some options

While many traditional companies are shifting into social good, there are many more that are refusing to change. If you’re dying to work for social change but your company won’t budge, it may be time to consider a career move. Here are a few places you could look:

  • Harry’s Razors – Be part of a company that’s revolutionizing the shave AND giving back. Harry’s is a great company that’s growing fast. Since day 1, they also donate 1% of company dollars and time to City Year, one of the largest AmeriCorps programs in the country. If you find yourself in the New York area, this could be a great fit.
  • Warby Parker – It’s getting tougher and tougher to get onboard here, but this company is a prime example of the type of place where you could have a vibrant career as a social intrapreneur.
  • Krotchet Kids – Krotchet Kids is fast becoming a standard bearer for social entrepreneurship. If you’re able to take a little time off to reorient your career toward social good, a Krotchet Kids internship may be just the ticket.
  • B Corps Jobs Board – B Corps Certification is the ‘certified organic’ seal for social good companies. Their job board is one of the most comprehensive lists available to the aspiring social intrapreneur.
  • Mashable’s list of social good job boards – This article links to 11 different social good job boards. There’s bound to be something for you on one of those lists.

Search for social intrapreneurship opportunities via job title

Social intrapreneurs come in many flavors. Here are a few titles to search for:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator/Assistant
  • Anything with the term ‘Impact Investing’ in the title
  • Cause Marketing Manager/Assistant
  • Cause Branding Coordinator/Assistant
  • Coordinator/Assistant – Employee Volunteer Programs
  • Corporate Sustainability Coordinator/Assistant
  • Anything with ‘Sustainability’ in the title

Contract your way into intrapreneurship

Millennials are well known for shirking the 9 to 5 in favor of flexible, results based employment. Use this to your advantage by pursuing traditional companies that want to launch a social good initiative. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you could sell your services to a company launching a new brand focused on social impact. Or, if you’re a marketer, you could sell services such as content marketing, ad copy, or consulting to a company seeking to make its mark on millennials. This can be a great option that stands a solid chance of leading into a permanent position or helps you build a portfolio of cause driven clients.

Work for a hybrid non-profit

A hybrid non-profit is an organization that has non-profit status and engages in a revenue generating activity. One of the best known examples of this is Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. Kiva Zip is another exciting example that recently launched. By working with organizations like these, you’ll guarantee yourself the opportunity to be a social intrapreneur.

Thanks to cause-minded millennial consumers, the opportunities to become a social entrepreneur or build a career through intrapreneurship abound at companies across the U.S. Be careful, however, not to get so sucked into the glamour of entrepreneurship that you fail to explore the opportunities (and security) offered to you by becoming a social entrepreneur or social intrapreneur.

More from Millennial Magazine:
The Basic Components of a DIY Home Music Studio
2016 Business Trends Report for Millennial Entrepreneurs
How Millennial CEO Pete Cashmore Created Mashable

Josh Schukman is the founder of Social Change Nation, whose mission is to provide startup social entrepreneurs with the best tools for growing their companies.

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