A big thank you to Alex Birkett for sending us this article! Alex worked at Wisconsin Campus Compact as a communications specialist during college. Since graduating last year, he started working for Do Amore, a social enterprise that is working to solve the water crisis.
How Campus Compact Prepared Me To Work For A Social Enterprise
by Alex Birkett
When I graduated from the University of Wisconsin last year, I wanted to begin a meaningful career – so I joined a startup. I figured I’d be able to jump in quickly and get my hands dirty, learning sought after skills without the hurdles of bureaucracy.
I was right. I moved to Austin, Texas and joined a tech startup as a sort of marketing/operations generalist. I learned content strategy, operations, account management, branding, inside-sales, SEO, and much more. But recently, I decided to take my skills and transfer them to a new venture. This one is a social enterprise called Do Amore.
Do Amore gives two people water for life for each engagement ring they sell. They partner with organizations like charitywater.org and water.org to drill sustainable wells for underdeveloped communities. Of course, with roughly 750 million people living without access to clean water today, Do Amore is helping solve a pressing problem.
Though my skills at the previous startup helped me on a tactical level, what I learned while working at Wisconsin Campus Compact while in college helped me fit into the culture and market the company the right way.
There was one specific event that impacted me the most. I remember sitting in a discussion during the Upper Midwest Civic Engagement Conference in Dubuque, IA. The theme in this particular discussion was social entrepreneurship, and the discussion leader was Thomas Schnaubelt from Stanford University’s Haas Center.
Previous to this, I’d never even considered social enterprise as a viable career option. As a J-School student, I had been on a chartered path to an advertising or PR agency. Heck, I barely knew what social enterprise was before that day.
Since I curated WiCC’s e-mail newsletter and website, I started featuring stories from these sites (and from a few others like Springwise, which is another awesome and addicting site.)
So, as I see it, WiCC helped catalyze my career in social enterprise in two ways:
- Giving me access (to ideas, people, and resources surrounding social enterprise)
- Giving me a platform and incentive to continue researching and writing about social enterprises.
To put it simply, if I hadn’t worked at WiCC, I wouldn’t have known social enterprise was an avenue I could pursue until much later in life, after a lucrative and standard career. I would have been cornered into a role, possibly at DDB or Edelman – which aren’t bad career options, but it’s nice to simply know about the other options available.
The trend in social entrepreneurship is clear: more and more college graduates are choosing to start or work for social ventures. As an effect, colleges are increasingly offering courses focused on social benefit, as shown in this graph:
I think Jeff Church summed it up well when he said, “young people today want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and they want to make a buck. And you can do both. You don’t want to wait 30 years to do that, and you don’t have to wait 30 years to do that.”
I’m glad I didn’t wait 30 years to do rewarding work. I’m glad WiCC prepared me to join a company like Do Amore.