Angela Kwan, co-founder of Catalyser
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Can new graduates make money and find a job with purpose?

For the longest time, I have believed that a successful career means working for a corporate that will give you financial and job security, even if it means compromising my desire to have a social impact. As a first-generation Australian born into a hard-working immigrant family, I was raised on the assumption that a well-paying job/ career was mutually exclusive to a job that benefits the broader community. The for-profit vs. not-for-profit divide. But what I am learning is that times are changing and we no longer have to make this decision. We can have both.

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing - Socrates

Earlier this year, LinkedIn released the list of the “Top companies where Australia wants to work”. This list reaffirmed my original view that I had to make a decision between corporates and social impact. And what is the result? Australia chooses corporates. The top four companies were the big 4 banks, followed by the big 4 auditing firms and then two of the major law firms in Australia.

However, it wasn’t until I started working at Catalyser that I understood employee giving and social impact programs are practised every day at these companies. As alluded to before, times are changing and many individuals, instead of giving up their interests when they go to work, are helping their companies realise their business goals that supporting the community also has real benefits for business. These benefits are exhibited internally ranging from increased employee attraction and staff retention to external factors such as brand differentiation and increased customer loyalty.

Dig deeper and you will find opportunities waiting

When I look up a company that I am interested in working for, I look at the news, their website, social media and if I am feeling it, their annual report. However, I never think to go deeper into a company’s CSR program or charities and NGOs they are partners with. So I decided to look up a couple of the companies on the LinkedIn list and what I found made me question my preconceived notions.

For Westpac, I found the Westpac Scholarship program. The program is giving out 100 scholarships to “young Australians to challenge, explore and set new benchmarks in innovation, research, social change” which is an amazing opportunity for students. Another example is PwC’s Charitable Foundation, which invests in its employees, education and humanitarian causes. In addition, the organisation is heavily involved in corporate volunteering.

To my pleasant surprise, this was increasingly common. For example, our CEO, Aivee Robinson announced last week that one of our clients had completed 16,000 hours of community volunteering in just one day, on their Catalyser platform. And there are so many more stories like that across the companies we work with. This is not just a one-off thing.

Employees and companies are continually working together to empower individuals who want to create change within the organisation. If you are entering the corporate space, search for CSR programs like PwC’s Charitable Foundation and get involved. And if your company doesn’t have one yet, be the intrapreneur who introduces a corporate volunteering program to your department.

Hope is not lost

If you are going to take anything away from this article, it’s that you should re-evaluate the question of money or purpose? Start by finding out what impact you want to achieve at work and then connect this with what companies are doing in their workplace culture, volunteering and charity programs.

Even in companies with thousands of employees, company cultures are changing every day to address the demand for wider societal impact.

It’s not just non-for-profits, corporates are doing their best now to bridge the gap for you to find fulfilment - both professionally and personally. I am glad my assumptions about the for-profit and non-for-profit debate have been challenged. It gives me an added sense of perspective about what I should look for in a workplace and the social impact employees can have within a corporate environment.

Written by Andrew Trinh, junior content marketer at Catalyser.

Catalyser is a business solution for employee giving. To book a demo or find out how we can help your company improve its employee giving, email us at or call 1800 233 138.