Top tips from On Purpose to develop a career in a social enterprise

Would you like a career with a purpose – a career that makes a positive difference to the world?

Making the move to work within a social enterprise, a company that is using business to create a social or environmental benefit, is now easier than ever – and, according to Tom Rippin, founder of On Purpose, it’s never too late in your career to make the change.

On Purpose matches organisations that are using business for good with talented professionals who want something more fulfilling and meaningful from their career.

Tom has helped hundreds of professionals find a more fulfilling career; here are Tom’s 11 tips for professionals wanting to develop their careers within a social enterprise:

  1. Invest the time to think about how and why you want to make this change. If you’re feeling frustrated in your current role, it’s often worth stopping to identify exactly what is lacking.
  1. Talk to friends and colleagues. By letting people know that you want to change they will be able to help. And the more specific you can be about what you are looking for the more easily they’ll be able to help you.
  1. Beware passion paralysis. You often hear “follow your passion”, but many people don’t know what their “passion” is, and spend (waste…) a huge amount of time trying to figure it out. Get things moving by collecting some experiences about what you do and don’t enjoy – e.g. through events, volunteering, or taking a sabbatical to explore an area of interest in more detail.
  1. Think beyond the cause. It’s tempting to focus on the cause you’re interested in but ignore all the other aspects of a role or organisation that shape the experience. For example, the size or stage of the organisation, whether they work directly with the people that they are set up to benefit, the business model, and the team and culture.
  1. Find your tribe. It can be incredibly helpful to find other people who are going through the same process to support you as you make your own transition. By exploring other networks you can often find people who share your interests or values or are just going through a similar journey to you, and can signpost you to other things you might be interested in.
  1. Focus on your intrinsics.  Social enterprise is an emerging space, and often there will be few people who have the exact skills and experience profiles needed for a role. Focus on communicating examples of your intrinsic skills (e.g. relationship building, problem solving), as well as transferable aspects of your technical skills. For example you may have done a lot of financial analysis, which could be applied to better understanding social impact data.
  1. Be real. When applying for roles make sure you understand the context of the organisation you are applying to and tailor your application for each role. For example, using language appropriate to the sector. Write clearly and in simple, jargon free language about who you are and why you are interested in the role and the organisation.
  1. Never talk about “giving back”. People who have spent their whole careers in this world will automatically think you shouldn’t have “taken away” in the first place.
  1. Don’t find yourself, build yourself. You might not find the one role that meets all the criteria of your dream job immediately. It can be helpful to break a transition into phases, for example initially switching sectors before switching functional role.
  1. Baptism of fire. When you have changed roles, make sure you ask all the stupid questions early on while people will be forgiving!  It’s also worth attending as many events, lunches and coffees in the first month as possible to fully submerge yourself in your new role.
  1. It’s a spiral. Arguably you’re never done with this process. Take time to evaluate your career at regular points (it can help to have a coach to do this with) and proactively plan ways to ensure that you continue to develop yourself professionally.

The On Purpose Associate Programme is full time, based in London and starts on September 30th 2015. Associates work in their placements 4.5 days a week and spend Friday afternoon at training.  Associates are paid £21,000 for the year, which is a stipend for a year of training and development.

Applications are open from now until 9am on the 11th May at

Student Grub Providing Free Food For Liverpool Students

More than 7,000 new Liverpool John Moores University and University of Liverpool students will receive a free food box as part of an initiative to show young people how to eat well on a budget.

In partnership with the Student Grub Company, locally-sourced fruit and vegetables will be provided along with herbs, pulses and dried goods to encourage students to cook healthy meals for themselves and their new flatmates.

Even novice cooks will be able to rustle up a really tasty dinner using just one knife, one board and one pan as recipe cards are also included in each food box. Dishes include ‘Cor Blimey Couscous’ with sautéed vegetables and herbs, ‘Mama Mia Risotto’ with leek, mushroom and tarragon, ‘Mighty Morrocan Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry’ and ‘Ole Tomato and Bean Mexican Stew.’

Each weekly hamper box has enough food to last four or five days and normally costs £12 – equal to the price of one large takeaway pizza.

The recipes have been devised by Student Grub founder and passionate foodie, April Green, who was inspired to set up the company when her son was about to start university.

April explained: “Empowering students to cook for themselves will be the focal point of my business this year. I’ll be working in collaboration with residential assistants at both universities and the Liverpool Guild of Students’ Green Fund, delivering loads of fun Student Grub activities in halls during the academic year.”

Yvonne Turnbull, Head of LJMU’s Student Advice and Wellbeing team said: “The start of the student journey often begins in halls which is why we want to ensure that students are given every opportunity to make the best possible start. By providing access to a free and healthy meal we want to encourage students to think positively about healthy eating. The University is keen to encourage students to stay healthy throughout their time at LJMU. Students who eat well study more effectively and are more likely to obtain the academic results that they want.


Student Grub


“The aim of the initiative is also to ease the transition into life in halls. Moving into student accommodation is exciting but it can be quite daunting too. Not only are you leaving the security of home but you are moving into a flat full of strangers. What better way to help new students get to know each other than over a nutritious, delicious meal they’ve cooked together themselves.”

Dan Cole, Liverpool SU’s Vice President Community Engagement said: “At LiverpoolSU we’re keen to promote healthy eating and lifestyles and support the Student Advice and Wellbeing Student Grub initiative. It’s a fantastic opportunity to bring flatmates together and encourage them to cook as a flat, which is great not just from a health point of view, but also socially.”

Alex Ferguson, Vice President of Liverpool Guild of Students leading on sustainable issues, said: “It’s fantastic that we could work with halls’ wardens and use Green Guild funding to offer grub boxes to University of Liverpool students. Learning how to cook healthy food on a budget is hugely important to students moving to University for the first time – so being able to offer them fresh products is a great way to get them started. We provide students with lots of opportunities to eat healthily, one of which is our newly established food cooperative in our Guild shop, where students can buy vegetables and student prices.”

Accommodation providers involved in this project are Unite, Sanctuary Students, CLV, Liberty Living, Victoria Hall and Fresh Student Living, covering thirteen student halls.

The Student Grub Company uses Prescotts Farm in Ormskirk, a third generation fruit and veg farmers and wholesaler, to supply fresh local produce. Combined with its recycled and reusable boxes, this means that the company is supporting North West businesses and helping protect the planet too.

For more information on Student Grub, go to