12 Point Plan for Students Changing the World through Corporate Careers

October 17, 2017 | Karen Leigh Anderson

I was delighted to be part of the panel for Saturday’s discussion on the topic “Can a student’s dream of changing the world be reconciled with corporate ambitions?” (recap of event here). With my background of working for corporates as well as start-ups and social enterprises, it was an interesting topic which made me think and create the following 12 points as an idea for guiding students who want to change the world and have a corporate career.

  1. Know yourself – don’t follow someone else’s dreams. It is only possible to find the career where you can be the best version of you, when you invest time into learning about yourself.
  2. Decide what the change in the world is that you are interested in making– this might start quite vague but writing a brief “mission” statement that you review regularly will help keep this change front of mind.
  3. Create your own impactful career path – this should be reviewed, edited and updated regularly.
  4. Take responsibility for your own professional development – this is essential for your long-term career success whether you seek to change the world or not.
  5. Expect change – in work, life, you and the world.
  6. Consider being a leader where you see an opportunity (however small), and furthermore choose who you follow carefully.
  7. Remember you are planning for the long haul – your career will span decades so find what you love to do and do it well.
  8. Enjoy the journey – neither your career nor changing the world are quick fixes, realising this means you can choose to stress less when it takes a while.
  9. Learn about business – the world works around business and you need to understand how it works to impact it.
  10. Get financially organised – lack of financial planning removes your choices.
  11. Life happens – if you have thought about the previous points, you will be able to cope with life changes and hold your course for changing the world.
  12. Understand how networking and social capital work – your impact will be greater if you mobilise others alongside you.

During the evening, these points were also made by the other panellists: Lienda Kavindele (LeapFrog Investments), Minsung Kim (HSBC Global Banking) and Mike Meaney (PhD Candidate and Gates Scholar at Cambridge). 

Finally, I would encourage students to participate in programmes like the Bridges for Enterprise or being a mentor for the Social Venture Weekend, or offer to join the board of a local social enterprise. You can have an impact, learn a lot and have fun now.

Karen Leigh Anderson

Business Adviser, Cambridge Social Ventures 

Centre for Social Innovation, Cambridge Judge Business School