Every now and again we get back in touch with former volunteer who is part of our alumni #WhatNext network to find out what they’ve been up to since they finished their programme overseas. Here we caught up with Sunil Makwana, a former Corporate Banking professional who quit his job to do something different. Since then he’s not only travelled with purpose, but also landed himself a gig at two social enterprises in the UK, through the one-year long On Purpose programme. Read on to find out more…

Tell us about yourself, what career were you in before you did _SocialStarters and what prompted you to do the Immersion Programme?

Six months prior to _SocialStarters I left banking. I’d spent the winter snowboarding and when I returned to London I wanted to test alternate careers.


_SocialStarters was a way of exploring social enterprise and start-ups whilst travelling overseas, so it felt like a win win for me.  


What were the top 2 things you learned on the Immersion Programme in Sri Lanka?

  • The power of your network – don’t underestimate the value of the skills and knowledge of your network and do not be afraid to ask for their help. I learned just as much from the people I was in Sri Lanka with as I did in through work experiences.
  • The entrepreneurs all had a clear vision for the social change they wanted to create. They quite often don’t know how to get there. This is a great opportunity for you to make a difference. It also requires some flexibility on their part which they often find difficult!

How did the programme affect the way you viewed your career?

I knew prior to _SocialStarters that I was looking for a purpose-led career.

_SocialStarters affirmed that and also encouraged me to think about some different possible career routes.

After completing the programme a year ago, what’s changed for you, if anything?

I joined On Purpose, a leadership programme for people wanting to transition into the purpose-led space. I’m currently working in social investment at Big Society Capital.  It allows me to combine social impact with my finance background.  If I hadn’t done _SocialStarters I probably wouldn’t have made this move.

5. What advice would you give to anyone trying to get a career in the world of social impact?

The ‘world of social impact’ is getting bigger. More people are transitioning into this space. An increasing number of start-ups are mission-led and corporates are looking at how to bring purpose into their missions and doing business well beyond traditional CSR.

Look where you can apply your skillset in the social sector. Programmes like _SocialStarters and On Purpose are great for opening opportunities and building sector networks. Test the water to see if you want to work in purpose-led organisations by volunteering. It’s a great way to learn new skills and build up knowledge. It’s often where the serendipitous opportunities come from.

6. What would you say to someone thinking about travelling with purpose and looking to volunteer?

There are lots of opportunities to volunteer so think about what you want to get out of your volunteering first and then find an opportunity to match. If you can do it in a place you can surf then even better!

Wanna get inspired? Then get your hands on our Top 16 Ideas for a Meaningful Career Break HERE.

We still have a few places on the Immersion Programme, taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this October 29th for 6 weeks. If you’re dying to #JoinUs then send your details across here, and irrespective of the deadline we’ll see if we can accommodate you.