Supporting Students in Finding Impact-Driven Careers

7 Dec, 2023 | Content for Educators

Here at OxBright, we’re working to understand Gen Z and Generation Alpha better than anybody else. We want to know what they care about, so that we can support them in achieving their academic and professional goals, and tackling the growing global challenges they face.

We also want to support teachers, Heads of Futures and pastoral leads who share this vision. That’s why we’ve been creating content based on our proprietary Careers Report data – and today’s post focuses in on our finding that, on average, students scored the importance of an impact-driven career higher than any other factor influencing their professional preferences. 

So, how can we work to support students passionate about using their careers to make a positive difference to their communities, the causes they care about, and the world as a whole?

I hosted a webinar for the OxBright Heads of Futures Network in which I discussed just that – here are my key takeaways.

The Key to Finding Out What You Want to Do Is Understanding Who You Are

There’s often a lot of focus when it comes to careers education on what students want to do with their futures – which is understandable given the deliverables and deadlines that teachers and careers leads are held to – but the first step in helping your students to find a rewarding, impact-driven career really is helping them to understand who they are and what they care about.

To find long term fulfilment in any career path, it’s important to consider what your values are so that you can find career options which align with them. Our free Career Test allows students to evaluate their preferences, interests and skills, aiming to suggest career paths that match more than just the degree they’re interested in. It also tells students how well possible career options score when it comes to important values such as sustainability.

Understand What Kind of Impact You Want to Have

Perhaps one of the least helpful things in impact-driven careers education is the term “impact-driven”. It suggests that there’s one golden list of careers, sectors and roles that tick an “impact” box, and students simply need to choose the one that they like the most.

In reality, there are many ways that careers can be impactful. Some are obviously so – medicine or teaching, for example, make tangible and meaningful changes to countless lives everyday – but many careers can be high impact in less immediate ways. When considering purpose-driven careers, it’s worth encouraging students to consider which kind of impact they find most motivating – breadth of impact, or depth?

In other words, are they more interested in impacting large numbers of people at scale, or perhaps a smaller number in a deeper or more direct way? In some roles, it’s even possible to do both!

Teasing out what kind of impact students are most excited by can help them to narrow down the career options that might be best for them.

Three students working on laptops and in notebooks

There Are Many Routes into High-Impact Careers

As interest in high-impact careers has grown, so too has the number of ways to get involved with them – and this will only become more true as today’s teenagers enter the workforce over the next decade.

One of the most practical ways you can assist your students in finding careers that match their impact aspirations is by signposting the credentials and platforms that cut through greenwashing, social washing and effective recruitment campaigns.

It’s worth exploring accolades like B Corps in a careers or form tutor session. B Corps are organisations that go through a rigorous certification process in order to demonstrate their social and/or environmental credentials, and include everything from design agencies to popular consumer brands.

You could also introduce students to platforms like Escape the City, which supports purpose-driven organisations to recruit, Charityworks and On Purpose, which could be useful in exploring the options available to the students in the workplace.

We’d love to hear what your experience with impact-driven careers has been – are you seeing increasing interest in careers for good amongst your students? What would you like from us so that you can better support the young people you work with to discover careers they’re passionate about?

I’m always keen to chat to other educators working in this space; you can book a call with me, or drop us an email to let us know your thoughts.

Jo

By Jo Cruse

As our Head of Schools, Jo brings a wealth of experience to the OxBright team. Her career in education includes a tenure as a teacher at one of the UK’s leading schools, where she also served as a university admissions advisor. Having held senior leadership roles in various educational organisations, Jo is deeply committed to empowering young people to reach their full potential. She is a member of the Founders4Schools Educational Impact Council and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

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