Navigating your Social Impact Career is like Tandem Skydiving: Don’t go it alone.

According to the United States Parachute Association, “a person is much more likely to be killed getting struck by lightning” then to be killed skydiving. Tandem skydiving is 2.5x times safer. So whether your resolving in this New Year to check off this life experience from your bucket list, or considering a new career move, I want to convey one simple, but important lesson: Don’t go it alone.

I remember one of the first times I felt lost in my career. Just 5 years from graduating college I had found myself underemployed, working as a temp and questioning my decision to leave Philadelphia for the Big Apple. At that time, “What Color is Your Parachute?” was a bestseller. In fact, the publication is still going strong since it was first released in 1972. It was helpful for me, but I was admittedly really bad at the self-discipline it required to complete exercises independently. And even worse, I did not really know if my attempts were making a difference in my thinking or whether I had generated a successful action plan.

Career switchers need to find ways to complete trial runs, test their knowledge, practice without getting hurt, and prepare for the dive.

Navigating a career alone today can feel even more distressing. There are so many resources, websites and advice from an increasingly overwhelming number of sources. The risk is — a lot like fake news — it is getting harder to know whom to trust. Even more analogous are the myths of what it takes to follow a purpose-driven career and land that increasingly coveted job in a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or Social Impact role. As I have noted in previous posts encouraging intrapreneurship, less than 5% of job listings reflect a social impact focus.

What I have learned in the last 2 years advising MBA students and professionals is the following. First, we all need a sounding board for our ideas — not therapy — just a sanity or reality check. Second, we need access and understanding from people who have traveled the path ahead of us. Coaching seems like a great way to learn from the mistakes of others, and it offers a safe space. Thirdly, mentors can be hard to find in such a competitive environment, and the few of us that have jobs with a social impact focus are stretched thin to respond to requests for coffee and informational interviews. And, finally, career switchers need to find ways to complete trial runs, test their knowledge, practice without getting hurt, and prepare for the dive.

That’s why I am inspired to help others to help visualize the jump, safely. Go tandem.

Have a story or anecdote about your job search in social impact, or trying to switch careers? Share your story in the comments or tweet @CuriousJLuis.

I am documenting stories and using them to inspire others. Website under construction.

#Coaching4Impact #SocialImpact #GrabAParachute #ColorYourParachute

Jorge Fontanez