We get asked this question a lot – what types of people are applying for _SocialStarters?

Without wanting to sound like i’m widening up our customer pool, we do attract a mixed bag of people wanting to volunteer abroad and #JoinUs as a trainee Social Enterprise Consultant.

But there is one common thread running through everyone who applies to the Immersion Programme, and that’s a passion for social entrepreneurship and sustainable business.

So whether it’s traditional consultants from the big four who want to start their own thing, to professionals and creative types passionate about international development – the Immersion Programme gives them a chance to see how things can be done things a little bit differently.

Depending on how far in advance that applicants make their enquiries, our inbox will see CVs from people who are planning their sabbaticals six months ahead or on the flip side more urgently from those who’ve been made redundant, finished their Masters, or are on gardening leave between jobs. They’ll be looking to do something a bit unique and life affirming during their time off. Some may combine it with travelling, and others see this as travelling – but with purpose. One of our recent alumni for example, described our programme in India as ‘way better than just travelling’. 

As for where they come from – being a London based business we do draw a lot of applicants wanting to volunteer abroad from around the UK, and other popular European countries include Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Spain. But our second biggest pool of talent comes the USA, with Australia an increasingly growing market. English is the common language, but we’re sometimes seeking applicants who can speak other languages, i.e. Portuguese for our programme in Brazil.

In the last three months, we’ve had over 100 applicants for programmes in India, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Brazil. They find us through websites like Escape the City or via Facebook and Linked In. We only have around 8-12 places per programme (as we like to keep things intimate), so it’s a competitive process. Around 95% of the people who apply are exactly the type of people we want to work with so getting an offer often boils down to logistics like timing.

People often ask us, ‘What makes you different from other volunteer programmes?’ And that one’s easy to answer.

When you join a _SocialStarters programme, around 20% of the time is spent by our programme management team, creating a space for you to focus your own future.

You’ll take part in coaching sessions and ideation workshops, as well as facilitate sessions and events of your own depending on what you’re most experienced in or passionate about.

Your confidence grows by proxy, but this isn’t the key output for our volunteers. We see our three pillars of learning as: knowledge in (and hands on experience of) social entrepreneurship, being introduced to start-up methods, and working on your own personal and professional development. The goal is to create innovative, socially minded entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs on both sides of the pond, so that whatever you do next in life – you approach it with a new set of tools, and a different perspective.

Don’t think you can take 6 weeks out your life? We’ve seen dozens of applications from people saying they would like to have a meaningful social impact experience abroad, but they can’t leave their jobs just yet. If this sounds like you, then you might be interested in applying for our new 2 Week Social Innovation Bootcamp in Rio de Janeiro. Between 4th July to 18th July we’ll be taking a group of 10 ‘future leaders’ in the social innovation space on a trip they’ll never forget. Interviews start 13th April for one week only. Email your CV with a cover to info@socialstarters.org and pop SOCIAL INNOVATION BOOTCAMP in the subject heading. Closing date for applications 10th April.