9 things I learned at the Alt Careers Fair last Saturday

London Escape member Lola is a marketing manager currently working in Financial Services and exploring options to make a move into non consumption based environment where she could make positive social impact through creativity. She is getting her information and inspiration by attending ESC events and reading inspirational books. She attended the Alt Careers Fair at the Hub Westminster on Saturday and shares her 9 learnings here.

Social entrepreneurship is…

I learned that I know nothing about social entrepreneurship which 3 morning talks were about. This was rectified there and then, thanks to my FancyHands virtual assistant Jonathan who has researched and compiled some intro articles for me.

I found this post to be most useful http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/16/what-exactly-is-a-social-entrepreneur

Look beyond the charity sector.

I’ve also learned that the not-for-profit sector is not the only option for those looking to make a difference. Social entrepreneurship (SE) is a good alternative. If not-for-profits mostly aim to address a short term need, social entrepreneurs work to make a lasting, long term change in the society.

Tommy Hutchinson’s i-genius http://i-genius.org, which is essentially LinkedIn for social entrepreneurs, run intensive 4-day course on SE. Tom Rippin’s On Purpose http://www.onpurpose.uk.com run a more in-depth SE programme which is a 6 months paid programme with a guaranteed placement (September 30th is the application deadline).

Volunteer first.

If you are not ready for a big commitment, probe the waters by volunteering. Julian Smith from I Am Enterprises listed the following resources (photo 1) while Tom Rippin mentioned www.givewhatyouaregoodat.co.uk and www.reachskills.org.uk

I had a dream… of volunteering in a museum, which I think is quite cool. Thanks to Julian, I now found a resource where I can look for museum opportunities, sharing for other geeks out there http://www.museumsassociation.org/careers/volunteering

How to escape a job that isn’t you…

I went to the workshop part 2 by Phil Bolton (still kicking myself for missing his workshop Part 1 on How to find work you love), and specifically how to get unstuck and escape. Phil suggests we ask 2 questions: why do I feel stuck, and what thoughts hold me back.

I felt quite smart during this workshop, having reviewed and contributed to this chapter of ESC manifesto http://blog.escapethecity.org/manifesto/the-escape-manifesto-discussion-3-why-is-it-so-hard-to-keep-the-ill-do-this-for-5-years-promise, and a lot of reasons were indeed the same. Yet I must say I have discovered some new angles (photo 2).

How to get unstuck?

Ask yourself open questions as to your motivations and what’s holding you back. Come up with creative and constructive answers, not excuses. Talk to other people and ask for their perspective and ideas.


One of the participants in Phil’s workshop said he dedicates 1 hour each day to researching and charting his next career move. That’s some commitment! And a terrific idea. If you don’t invest time into yourself, who will?

The moment of truth.

Always interesting to hear about the moment of truth. For Tommy Hutchinson it was looking over Barcelona in park Guell (makes you want to get the ticket to Spain), for Phil Bolton, weeping to Sheryl Crow (sorry, Phil! :)) I guess you have to be in presence of something beautiful, to see the big picture and arrive at life changing decision.

7 tips from Richard Alderson…

who for me was the most inspirational speaker on the day:

  • Get out of your head. You won’t analyse your way out, stop overthinking it (watch this classic, my favourite, on the subject http://bit.ly/QgTIFw)
  • Define your terms. Write your dream job description, define must-haves, this will help you understand what you are looking for
  • Who are your heroes? Look for role models, think about what inspires you in them
  • Follow your bliss
  • Get in there (and make mistakes). Even if you don’t know what it is that you want to do, start doing something
  • Meaning > money
  • Don’t die wondering

That totem pole…

There is a beautiful totem pole in the lobby of New Zeland House which looks like wood carved poles of American Indians in the British Museum. Fascinating.


  • Adele

    Thanks for sharing Lola – love the 7 tips from Richard Alderson…

  • Lola

    Thanks Adele! Loved writing a blog for you guys.

  • Quentin

    Thank you so much Lola – Fantastic how you summed it up here i couldn’t have done it better myself and we spent a month putting it together! There are already plans in the making for another event at the end of January or beginning of February and we sure hope that you will be there then. Im interested to know what people would like to hear more about. So if anyone want to give us some ideas and help us plan the next one leave us a comment here.

    Once again thank you to everyone who turned up there was great energy in the room and we massively enjoyed ourselves and meeting all those that came!

    The Hub Westminster Team

  • http://londoniknow.wordpress.com Lola

    Hi Quentin, well done putting this event together, it was definitely different! I will definitely consider attending again and recommending my friends to attend. I think there was loads of inspiration at the event, but not necessarily help with the tangible action plan. It was also not obvious how to choose which workshop and what would be covered where. I am sure you guys will improve for the next event! Happy to provide more feedback, feel free to email me.

  • http://HubWestminster.net Quentin Johns

    Thanks for the feed back Lola, we are just planning the next one at the moment and I will pass this onto the hosting team. Also if you havent seen it yet do check out the video We Free The Box made for us.

    I look forward to seeing you at the next one!

    Speak soon