Ashni Mohnot wrote a fascinating and fairly provocative blog post at PopTech on “Who’s in the social entrepreneurship club… and who isn’t.

The post, which I found somewhat unsettling, garnered such attention that I felt a need to respond.  This is part 2.  Part 1 can be found here.

II. Young Graduates: Square Pegs in Round Holes

Opportunities in the field also seem to be limited to positions either requiring many years of experience or roles that are unpaid… Even tech giants like Google or major consulting firms like McKinsey offer positions of great responsibility like the Associate Product Manager or Business Analyst roles to college graduates, preferring to train employees in-house to ensure excellence. Why don’t social ventures (or even traditional nonprofits) do the same?… Given that young graduates, especially those who opted for nonprofit careers, are often armed with world-changing passion, it is unfortunate that so few avenues exist for them to channel their energy into the world of social entrepreneurship that thrives on the drive to make a difference.

The conundrum faced by younger people who are not professionally trained (not nurses, architects, engineers, etc.) is an old one and nothing unique to this space.  Speaking again from my own experience… I was trained in a liberal arts setting and, like all my liberal arts friends, left school feeling hugely capable of something, but unsure of what that something was.  In addition, as Ashni states, nearly every interesting-sounding job out there either paid nothing or required five years of experience.  So despite my academic credentials and internship and volunteer experience, finding a first job was, for me, hell.

It’s true, there are lots of large organizations like Google and McKinsey that do have more traditional entry-level career tracks that are designed to provide training and mentorship to young employees.  However, this is a luxury that fewer and fewer companies, smaller enterprises in particular, can afford.

It’s not a matter of not caring or not wanting to help younger professionals get their feet wet (though companies often do invest a considerable amount in developing new hires, only to have them leave after a couple of years).  Rather, it’s simply the case that smaller companies and start-ups don’t have the resources or infrastructure to support these kinds of jobs. Young companies need experienced, independent, “hit the ground running” types of recruits who can help get their organization off the ground.

So, again, I agree it’s unfortunate that more young people’s desires to change the world aren’t effectively channeled into interesting and well-paying jobs with up-and-coming social enterprises.  But this is not a matter of exclusion.  It’s a matter of practicality and necessity.

The fact that we must find ways to use these people’s passions and gifts, and in the process get them valuable job training, is indisputable.  We just can’t assume that social enterprises will be the avenue for achieving that.

Advertisements