What do you think of when you hear ‘prestigious graduate career’? Banking? Legal work? Management Consultancy? Maybe engineering? Students can easily be forgiven for heading straight to the ‘traditional’ stalls at Nottingham’s recent recruitment fairs. But change is in the air in the graduate market.
There are now a range of social impact employers in the graduate market, including leading employer Teach First. Since launching in 2001 the programme has aimed to end educational inequality by attracting promising graduates to the teaching profession. The substantial impact Teach First has had on the graduate market is reflected by the 7,500 applications per year it receives, as well as the creation of new schemes applying a similar formula.
Establishing itself in 2013, the scheme has already received a remarkable amount of interest, entering The Times Top 100 as 2014’s highest new entry
This has included Frontline, a graduate programme aimed to attract outstanding individuals into social work in order to transform the lives of vulnerable children. Establishing itself in 2013, the scheme has already received a remarkable amount of interest, entering The Times Top 100 as 2014’s highest new entry. Gaining this title has demonstrated interest in socially influential careers, beating the likes of traditional options such as Santander and Bloomberg.
Another innovative graduate opportunity, Police Now, targeted recruiting the brightest and best into the Metropolitan Police Force. Applications for this scheme opened in 2014 with claims to nurture its employees with extensive training and experience over the course of the programme in order to produce future leaders in any career they may wish to pursue.
Think Ahead is the most recent addition to these social impact schemes backed by the Government. This programme is currently under development and will begin to recruit graduates for a 2016 cohort, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Frontline by attracting new graduates into the field of social work. However instead of opportunities being directed at child protection as in the case of Frontline, Think Ahead will target adult mental health social work and surrounding issues.
From hearing the opinions of participants and alumni of schemes it is evident a job making a social impact is one with high rewards. Former Nottingham student and current Frontline participant Lizzie Dilks felt inspired by at the prospect of children’s social work. Explaining what attracted her to apply for Frontline, Lizzie said: “I enjoy working with people and have an interest in dealing with a range of social issues. I felt that social work would give me the opportunity to take a ‘hands on’ approach to facilitate social change and would be an emotionally and intellectually fulfilling career.”
“Working with children can be challenging but is also enjoyable, dynamic and rewarding”
“I believe a social worker has so much potential to make a real difference to a child’s life and that is something I wanted to be part of. Working with children can be challenging but is also enjoyable, dynamic and rewarding,” she added.
Participating in a social impact scheme can provide individuals with a high level of responsibility significantly earlier than traditional routes. To aid this authority that individuals receive, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe from Police Now noted adopting “the very best leadership training and personal support.” He also stated, “So, by the end of your two years, you’ll have developed a strong set of leadership skills that you can take with you into any role in the Police service – or indeed, in any organisation in the world.”
This leads to another distinctive aspect of these opportunities, the encouragement to transfer skills learnt, into a wide range of future careers. Teach First has demonstrated this by forming strong partnerships with private organisations including Goldman Sachs, to support participants moving careers if desired. But it is in the charity and education sectors where Teach First has had most success. Frontline, Jamie’s Farm, Franklin Scholars, Access Project and Achievement for All where all founded by Teach First alumni and play a major role in tackling disadvantage. That said, almost 60% of Teach First alumni since 2003 have remained in teaching, many of whom have progressed quickly.
Not only will you learn while you earn, but many social impact schemes, including Frontline and Teach First, offer the unique opportunity to gain formal postgraduate qualifications, displaying participants personal development as being centrally important
The four social impact careers discussed all offer a two year programme for graduates, each paying a competitive salary. Not only will you learn while you earn, but many social impact schemes, including Frontline and Teach First, offer the unique opportunity to gain formal postgraduate qualifications, displaying participants personal development as being centrally important. Alongside learning on the job, individuals will receive the correct education and training to be certified in their chosen field, whether it be qualifying as a teacher, social worker or policeman.
Alumni networks are an important part of social impact graduate programmes. Participants form strong professional relationships during the programme which can help them to have a joint impact later in their careers. A great example is the Teach First alliance – a number of organisations, including some set up by Teach First alumni, are supporting each other to deliver positive outcomes for disadvantaged young people. Meanwhile many teachers keep in touch at a various networking events and have an opportunity to discuss best practice.
There are a range of reasons why these social impact careers are becoming more popular with graduates, and it looks as though this trend is set to continue into the foreseeable future.
To find out more about social impact careers visit:
Frontline website (currently recruiting students for Brand Manager positions, internships and insight days:) www.thefrontline.org.uk/blog/frontline/opportunities-frontline-2015-apply-today
Teach First: www.teachfirst.org.uk/
Think Ahead: www.thinkaheaduk.org/