Why I chose social enterprise over the corporate world [as featured in the Guardian]

Published by The Guardian Social Enterprise Network.

Thursday 6 February 2014 07.00 GMT

Sanum Jain Guardian Social Enterprise Career Guardian Social Enterprise NetworkBy this time last year, some of my peers at the University of Manchester had secured jobs at reputable corporations while others had launched their first business or started making travel plans. I was somewhere in the middle, like many students in third year – stuck in a limbo of tedious application forms and not knowing what would become of me after graduation.

So I decided to assess my skills, pinpoint a particular path and find opportunities. I found that I loved writing and social media. I selected PR as a possible route, and came across a GiveMeTap internship. Little did I know that what I had first approached as work experience to prepare me for a PR office job would become a love affair with social enterprise. I now co-run GiveMeTap, heading all communications, PR and marketing at the grand age of 21.

So why did I decide to stay and work for a small social enterprise instead of applying to large-scale organisations, especially when I’m not an entrepreneur? Mainly, it is the sheer fulfilment and job satisfaction that I feel every single day. Some people get this satisfaction through making money and others through their creative expression. For me, knowing that my work is helping people across the world is enough to make me excited to wake up in the morning.

Secondly, by being part of a small team, your role is constantly morphing and every day is different. One day you may be designing a website and the next day you may be talking to journalists. There is no paper pushing, no ‘cogs in the wheel’ and everything you do is integral to the business. Subsequently, you can grow your talents and develop skills you didn’t think possible. For example, I’ve started to learn code, I’ve engaged in sales activity, and I’ve been involved with supply chain operations.

Many graduates leave university seeking stable, long-term employment from a reputable company instead of taking chances on their true passions. However, that security is not guaranteed; the CIPD have observed that turnover rates for young people (especially those caused by redundancy) are significantly high and increasing due to the economic climate. If risk is already an increased factor in the conventional job market, isn’t that further reason for graduates to take their own risks? This includes joining small business, starting out on their own, and being part of socially conscious ventures.

During my journey, however, I have also learned that even if you choose a route that diverges from that of the corporate world, your paths are sure to cross at some point. Instead of working for a large company, you may find yourself working with them, just as GiveMeTap has many corporate clients who involve us in their supply chain. By engaging with these businesses, there is potential to involve them as a vehicle towards success, while helping them to achieve their own social or environmental goals.

Although the perks and prospects of the corporate lifestyle are undisputed, working for a social enterprise opens the possibility of fulfilling opportunity that many don’t know exists. I believe Generation Y can be the driving force towards a future where sustainability and ethics are at the core of every business. Muster the courage, get into gear, and enjoy the journey!

Good Kid, Maad City: Week 6

Hello all!

Another short but sweet entry! This week has been as busy as ever, as you may have figured since I have been less responsive on most media forms (This is rare for me!).

We launched our summer campaign, MindTheTap, on Tuesday and have been ‘all systems go’. This week, and more specifically, that day, really tested my ability to deliver under pressure. We had a very tight deadline to launch MindTheTap and needed to work together as well as individually to achieve success. The first feeling of ‘work pressure’ had hit me, and it was surprisingly addictive. I loved the rush of being productive and just getting things done!

It also led me to achieve a major goal – my first real published article! On the PR side of my placement, this is big news as it starts of my portfolio of material, while showing I can pitch to journalists. That bit has been pretty scary, if i’m honest! However, I am getting more confident with time! You can read my piece here: http://www.greenwisebusiness.co.uk/news/green-sme-givemetap-signs-major-water-bottle-deal-with-deloitte-4043.aspx.

I’m really appreciating all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of a business like this. You have to live and breathe what you do without over exerting yourself and compromising your long-term success. Everyday is worth it when I think of the bigger picture of why we do what we do, and the amazing results – we contribute to helping people survive.

Very proud to be here. I hope that everyone reading this takes time to like our facebook page, maybe buy a bottle, and feel as proud as I am! 🙂

Over & Out

If you haven’t already, find out what adoseofpersonalwhim is about in About Sanum Jain

Good Kid, Maad City: Week 4

Hey Kids! Can you believe i’ve finished Week 4?!

To be fair, after suffering from tonsillitis for the week, it does feel more like Week 3! I have lots to share with you about the amazing things I have done this week. I’ve managed to watch at least one episode of Game of Thrones a night, discovered how edgy Shoreditch is and sampled almost all the japanese food chains in Old Street.

In all seriousness, considering Edwin (my boss) is still out saving the world one droplet at a time, I have taken it on myself to be proactive and I am quite surprised at myself! It all started on Monday when I stumbled across a Google Campus event on ‘Doing Your Own PR’. Aimed at start-ups without PR experience, the workshop set out to allow new entrepreneurs pick the brains of PR, Camera and Business specialists as to how to make the most of publicity. New to both the world of business and public relations, I registered straight away knowing it would help me out.

I was not wrong at all. Yes, I got a few tips and tricks from Bernie Mitchell on how to maximise social media publicity. Yes, I got some golden advice from Paul Blanchard about doing your own PR. However, the most useful aspect of this event is the confidence it gave me in what I was doing. I realised that I was on the same platform as these brilliant people and learning the same thing. This made me feel a lot more at ease with what I am doing and got me to understand that I don’t need to have it all figured out just yet. I’m still learning! Great experience!

The other exciting thing I did this week, was embark on a GiveMeTap bottle photography shoot with my fellow intern, Ben. We thought we needed some more bottle paparazzi and therefore took it on ourselves to get out there and get some snaps of the bottle in London. Not only did I learn a lot about visuals and photography (in terms of placement and lighting – not actually taking the photo as that was Ben’s expertise…) but I got to discover a bit more of the City as well. We shot two sessions this week and really had a great time. Learning on the job!

Here are a few snaps – Ben was cheeky and got me in a few of them!

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I’m also quite proud of what GiveMeTap have achieved this year as a social enterprise. This week, we found out that we have been nominated for 4 awards. Yeah, FOUR! Two of these awards are in separate categories in the same competition – The British Young Business Awards. The BYBA have nominated us for Social Enterprise and Social Corporate Responsibility of the Year. Virgin Money Be The Start Campaign has also named us as a finalist, chosen to pitch our movement to a panel. Last but not least, RSM Tenon have nominated us for a European Business Award, acknowledging our position as a small but mighty force.

After a really busy Friday, I finished the week at the infamous Uderbelly festival near the London Eye. Close cousins, old friends and new places. Too many drinks, a realisation that London transport pretty much blows and an avid reminder that if I’m going to sustain myself in this brilliant city, i’m going to have to soon start earning some dollar…

Back to reality it seems… until next week 🙂

Over and Out!

Good Kid, Maad City: An Introduction (London, GiveMeTap & my journey)

This week I have embarked on an exciting journey. I have moved to UK’s concrete jungle as the PR/Social Media Intern for social enterprise, GiveMeTap.

I must admit, I didn’t realise how ‘loaded’ that last sentence is; A move, a title, a company and a name. It is impossible for me to tell this piece of news to anyone without being subjected to a list of questions about each of these components. These are all questions from people I know, love and very much miss now that i’m far from home. I wish I could explain in depth to everyone about the amazing work I will be doing over the Summer, helping villages in Africa through reducing plastic waste in the UK, however, after a long day it just won’t be possible. Frankly, you know I’ll be too busy watching The Mindy Project…

Hence, Good Kid Maad City. This feature series will act as a communicator to all of those who I wish I could talk to personally. I will (most probably, weekly) update you all on what i’m actually doing at GiveMeTap, as well as my experiences in London, outside of office hours.

This week, I have already learned so much about water and about how social media can be effectively managed for business. It is only the end of day 2, but I have invaded the Twittersphere, improved my writing through a Press Release and have even brainstormed some great 1000883_10151497305901915_11996461_npress ideas with The Water Guy himself. I have taken a shot of water, tweeted a really lame ‘selfie’ and have realised that a lot more of this behaviour will occur. Hopefully my blogging activity (and quality) will increase through managing the GiveMeTap blog and posting my  stuff on here.

I cannot wait to share this journey with you all and subsequently the message of sustainability. I hope I can encourage you to buy a bottle and suggest a tap… also please find me a great job so I can spend more time on this than job applications…

Catch up with you soon!