Careers In Social Impact: Event Recap

On January 22nd, Austin’s aspiring change makers gathered at ImpactHUB to explore careers in social impact.

What We Did Together

Those of you familiar with my workshops know that you will be out of your seat, meeting new people, and challenging yourself to make bold moves for your career.

Careers in social impact was divided into three parts:

  1. Making New Friends
  2. Looping Method 101
  3. Inspiring Panelists

Part 1. Making New Friends

I’ll let you in on a secret. A room full of bright, ambitious people is the most valuable part of a workshop. As such, I’m constantly exploring how to create serendipity between strangers.

In other words, how might we make new friends?

We started with a quick drill called Give A Damn that surfaced the causes we care most about in the world. What do you want to commit your time and energy to?

Armed with post-its and sharpies, we made our causes visible and announced them as we placed them on the board.

With each cause, we asked ourselves to dig for specificity. For example; education is a great category, but high quality education for students of marginalized communities provides a clear mission.

With a board full of post-its, we then used small dot stickers to vote on the topics that mattered most to us. With only three votes, we had to follow our gut.

Give A Damn revealed shared interests so we could form small groups to meet new friends and explore our causes further with the next drill.

Our second drill was inspired by the book and TV series Roadtrip Nation. Breakout teams imagined they were on a bus tour around the country for the purpose of interviewing people related to the cause selected in Give A Damn.

Teams first filled their poster with who they would interview and then generated questions to ask their interviewees.

Everyone was asked to consider questions from personal reflection on what they need help with to move forward in their career.

What we learned

We know more than me.

Breakout teams commented on how they built momentum together as they completed the Roadtrip Nation drill. Think about how to connect with other people to close the gaps in what you don’t know.

Making bold moves starts with asking for what you need.

Surfacing questions for interviewees helped reveal the challenges, needs, and obstacles we face in navigating the next steps in our career. This may feel vulnerable at first, but when everyone is sharing, we quickly find that we are not alone and we can refine our questions to better express what we need.

You can’t think your way into a great career.

Roadtrip Nation didn’t start as TV show. A couple college buddies hopped in a 1985 RV and started calling for interviews. It was a small experiment to discover what to do with their career.

How we formulate these experiments, in a way that invites the world to help us, is a process called Looping.

Part 2. Looping Method 101

There is no one “right” path or “safe” path. Careers are full of delightful detours and unexpected obstacles (like layoffs).

But knowing this doesn’t make it any less scary or less of a struggle to navigate.

You can’t pick the right path for a future that hasn’t been invented yet. But you can build the skills and confidence to design your path, no matter what the future holds.

Looping starts by clarifying what you need or what obstacle is in your way. Then you generate possible ways to solve for this need and pick one to create a small experiment.

Then, you ask how your small experiment connects with real people in a way that that helps solve for your need or overcome your obstacle.

To complete a Loop, reflect on what you learned to refine your challenge and then restart the Looping process by building on the one you completed or going in a new direction.

Let’s use an example:

Clarify: How might I illustrate Looping in a way that provides value to workshop participants and helps me build social capital?

Create: What if I made it easy to collect advice from leaders in social impact and then made a simple “cheat sheet”?

I first created a form to collect advice, then made a list of people I knew, or wanted to know, who had the experience to share thoughtful advice for career changers.

Connect: I shared the form with the people on my list and asked for help identifying more people to share with. As submissions came in, I was sure to follow up with each person who generously shared their time to help.

Reflect, Refine, Restart: I was able to reconnect with my existing network and make new connections in a way that proved to be a quick way for leaders to share advice and contribute to a valuable gift for attendees.

Since I put the responses into a digital format here, the “cheat sheet” can serve as a tool for both career changers and for leaders who are often asked for general advice.

You can think of the cheat sheet as a “smallified” version of Roadtrip Nation.

Click the image to be take to the full cheat sheet.

Part 3. Inspiring Panelists

Luckily, I have some super rad friends who generously shared their evening to take this workshop to the next level.

Alexis, Ruben, and Meghan have built their careers doing amazing work in social impact. It is a journey that comes with hard days and frustrating uncertainty. These three know best that it takes guts, persistence, and resilience to make an impact.

They shared personal stories and stayed long after the event to talk to attendees. HUGE thanks to these inspiring change makers.

This is the first panel I’ve done for the Best Monday Ever workshops and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Folks Emailed Us To Say Nice Things

“I got to chat with an old friend there I hadn’t seen in years; found out he has Product Management experience and we’re going to meet up soon to talk about our career shifts.”

“The opportunity for hands on practice of some of the pre-looping practices and time hearing from a candid and interesting panel was a big ROI.”

“That was a great workshop, you’re energy is contagious, man! Looking forward to connecting with more great people and building some meaningful relationships. Glad we met!”

“Getting a big group of strangers to brainstorm and work on something new is a significant feat, and led to some fun interactions. The panel was insightful, inspiring, and super friendly.”

What Is Best Monday Ever?

Best Monday Ever unconventional tools and experiences for employers and college career staff to unlock the potential in their people.

We work with forward thinking organizations to unleash creativity, self-awareness, and resilience in order to bring your best self to work.

Big thanks to our partners.

Impact Hub shared their lovely venue to make this workshop possible. They have an amazing community for coworking and they are talking BIG social challenges in Austin with their accelerator program.

General Assembly has generously supported bringing Best Monday Ever to you each month. Their team helps produce these workshops so I can show up and do what I do best. Check out their weekly events and full-time programs to help you level-up in a career change.

Howdy, I’m Spencer. I host custom career and professional development workshops. Connect with me on LinkedIn to start a conversation about what we can do together.