How to prototype your career as a social innovator

October 15, 2020

How to prototype your career as a social innovator

All of us look for purpose in the work we do — we want to feel that our efforts make a difference in some way, by making somebody’s life easier or making the world a better place.

But when we think about becoming a ‘social innovator’, we can put ourselves off by overestimating what’s involved. We often think that being a social innovator or changemaker is a totally separate career path that would require us to quit our jobs and run away to join the world of non-profits, social enterprise and charities.

Image for post
Becoming a social innovator doesn’t have to require the huge leap we often think it does.

In reality, social innovators exist in all kinds of organisations and work contexts, from governments and big corporations through to small businesses and freelancers. It’s not about a job title so much as a commitment to making a bigger positive impact in whatever work you do.

What’s more, becoming a social innovator doesn’t have to be a huge leap — there are plenty of ways to quickly and cheaply prototype a more impactful career, starting with small steps and changing course as you gather feedback on what kind of changemaking suits you best.

Below are just three of the many ways you can prototype your career as a social innovator.

Prototype 1: Sit down for coffee with someone

It might sound simple, but sitting down for a conversation with a social innovator or changemaker who inspires you or whose work you’re curious about is a powerful way to prototype your own impactful career.

Image for post

The key here is to be very clear that you’re looking to learn, not looking for a job or a foot in the door. When people understand this, they’re surprisingly willing to make the time to chat about what they do and how they got to where they are, even if they don’t know you (LinkedIn is great for this).

Just be sure to shout them a coffee if you’re catching up in person!

Prototype 2: Find out what it actually involves

If you are considering a new role or a career change, you might be feeling intimidated trying to find all the options and work out which one suits you best — but a new role as a changemaker doesn’t have to be a leap of faith.

Image for post

Finding out what’s involved in the jobs available right now helps to make your new career ideas real.

Start by looking at some of the social impact jobs available right now in your area, and read the job descriptions in detail (focussing on the responsibilities of the role). If you haven’t worked as a social innovator before, you might not be familiar with what different jobs entail, so this is a great way to start getting to know what your new career might actually look like day-to-day.

Prototype 3: Find a way to experience it first-hand

A third kind of prototype is more hands-on: it involves finding ways to actually experience the kind of work you want to learn more about.

Volunteering is a great way to run this kind of prototype — find an organisations who’s doing great social innovation work, and ask if they need any help with anything (especially in your area of expertise). Internships, secondments, and job shadowing programs are other great ways to get a first-hand look at what certain social impact roles involve.

If you’re keen to learn more about your social impact skillset and how you can prototype your career as a social innovator, we’d love to have you join our next cohort of The Good People.

An interactive online program run over five weeks, The Good People will help you to better understand the intersection between your passions and skills, and will equip you with a range of tools for understand social issues and finding strategic ways to take action and make an impact. If you have any questions about the program, please get in touch with me at and I’d be happy to chat!

Latest Articles

All Articles

Minimum Viable Bullsh*t: Overcoming Innovation Theatre

Have you ever felt like you’re caught up in ‘innovation theatre’? Like the work you’re doing is all post-its and no substance, all ideation and no impact? At SOMA’s recent event, our expert panel shared their insights to help us pull back the curtains on innovation theatre to discuss how we can innovate with minimum viable bullsh*t.


Getting the Most out of a Design Sprint

From its humble beginnings at Google in 2010 as an approach to innovation - the Design Sprint has become a tried-and-true method for companies and teams to rapidly find solutions to head-scratching problems. Because of their popularity and promotion by big companies for different purposes it can be a bit confusing to navigate and understand the world of Design Sprints. Below we’ll share some tips for how to get the most out of your Design Sprint.’


How to find your calling in social impact

Getting started in the complex world of social change means first understanding our own unique set of skills and values and how you can best apply yourself to work that not only interests you but that you can make maximum impact in. The big question to start with is, what is my calling in social impact?

Social Impact