"Why would you learn for the future if you destroyed it?" is written on many Fridays for Future posters. Not only pupils but also more and more university students think so. We'll show you how you can combine your studies with social and sustainable commitment and thus become successful in what you are doing.
Since the Fridays for Future protests at the latest, the topic of sustainability has moved into the focus of our everyday lives and many of us are now heading in the right direction: we reuse our grocery bags several times, abandon palm oil and buy clothes second hand. But it's not only in our free time that we can do something for our environment and society: For many students and graduates the expected salary is no longer the deciding factor when choosing a career, for them it is important to pursue a deeper meaning through their profession. Social and sustainable work offers the perfect opportunity to unite your drive to change the world with your profession - because economic success and impact do not have to be antagonists.
We will show you how you can approach this sector during your studies and build your path to a fulfilling job.
Everyone has the opportunity to improve their sustainability knowledge regardless of their academic background. This can already happen during the time of your studies, for example through interdisciplinary courses. Most universities offer such voluntary, public courses as part of a so called “Studium Generale”.
In addition, the choice of the study can have further influence on the Master's degree. An increasing number of universities and colleges are developing tailor-made study programmes that underline the significance of having an impact. The change of mind towards conscious action meanwhile has arrived in the curriculum of the standard courses: Modules such as ethics and sustainability have now become an integral part of many degree programmes.
Another way of exploring the topic is through conferences that promote exchange between people with similar interests. Inspiring speeches, practice-oriented workshops and panel discussions on the subject of jobs with impact are in the spotlight. Events such as the Social Innovation Summit, re:publica or SensAbility inspire students, entrepreneurs and career starters to the same extent.
Almost all universities offer topic-related initiatives. The best-known example of this is enactus, a global non-profit umbrella organization under which more than 70,000 students in 37 countries operate their activities. All projects that are initiated are linked to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as a basis to solve existing problems. That way, the students gain their first experience of a social entrepreneur and bear social responsibility.
Good options to become an active part of the social business scene are internships and student jobs. Not only do you get a first-hand impression of what it feels like to pursue a career with purpose, but you will also create an impact directly through your work. You do not have to join an NGO in order to to do so. Large companies are constantly expanding their CSR departments and thus are creating opportunities to stimulate positive influence through their activities within the Group. Even within the start-up scene, more and more entrepreneurs focus on how they can achieve more with their business than just profit maximization. Experiences gained through internships or student jobs, like those you can find on GoodJobs for example will give you an initial idea of how to combine your passion for changing the world with your future job. Furthermore, you will get first helpful contacts into the sector, which will also be helpful after your studies.
Because our future is not only created in lecture rooms - we change it with our holistic commitment. It's not so much about the subject you're studying as about networks, curiosity and mindsets. Or as Greta Thunberg says: "No one is too small to make a difference."
"SensAbility - The WHU Impact Summit" is Europe's largest student-organized conference on social and sustainable business. Our vision is to show students and young professionals concrete ways to combine work with impact. You can find more information at www.sensability.de!
Photo © Siora Photography via unsplash