How To Make An Impact And Still Pay The Bills


You want to make an impact, but you also have school debt, rent and car insurance to pay for, among other expenses. Your parents want you to find a stable job, one that comes with vacation pay and benefits.

The job market is competitive and your priorities seem to be competing with one another as well.

When applying for your next job, it doesn’t have to be an either/or decision.

The application process, when seeking employment, expects students and recent graduates to choose between the for-profit and not-for-profit sector. When applying for jobs, you have to consider our commitments, financial goals and also what your personal goals are.

How do you balance all three and find a career path that fits who you are as opposed to trying to fit into a pre-existing box that may come at the expense of what you want to achieve?

Traditionally, Canadians have ranked corporations as high in profit potential and low on the social impact scale. Although more organizations are incorporating social responsibility within their mandates, the bottom line is still profit.

Not-for-profit organizations rank high on their social impact and relatively low in profit potential, often dependent on grants, donors and volunteers. The line-up for a promotion at an established not-for-profit is long and also requires years of experience.

There are assumptions that students and new grads often make about both sectors, and – whether right or wrong – this influences where you consider applying and also the direction of your career path. Some find their way, and some are left feeling jaded and stuck.

In both sectors, how many people do you know who are not satisfied with what they are doing, but also suggest that they don’t have the flexibility to move out of their current role? I can name a few.

So what do you do? I am hesitant to suggest that there is one solution that fits all, because there isn’t. Your circumstances, goals and what you want to achieve may vary.

However, if you can’t find your place within the two sectors, what you can do is begin thinking beyond the traditional notions of for-profit and not-for-profit and consider the emergence of social enterprises.

The rise of a third sector, the social sector, merges the traditional concepts and has left social entrepreneurs with a desire to not only make a profit, but also incorporate a social mission within their business models.

When applying for your next job, it doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. The movement toward the creation of social value, social innovation and social enterprises is gaining momentum among young leaders who want to make a difference that doesn’t come at the expense of unpaid bills.

Incubators, conferences and showcases are popping up and may help to spark an idea, or introduce you to a new network of organizations that are working towards both profit and social impact. As these organizations balance their bottom lines, working in this space may help you balance yours.

Have you found a way to make an impact and money at the same time? Share your experience in the comments below!

Photo credit: stuartpilbrow

About the author

Dr. Rumeet Billan is a social entrepreneur and an educator. She is the President of Jobs in Education, a Partner at Viewpoint Leadership and Academy, and completed her PhD at the University of Toronto. She teaches, writes and speaks on social entrepreneurship, leadership and emotional resiliency. Her focus is on research and the development of global competence and emotional intelligence. At the age of 25 and again at age 28, Rumeet received the honour of being named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women. She has been featured in and continues to integrate her business and research with her passion for creating change through education. To learn more, visit