I want to work in an Alternative Career

Find out how you can start an alternative career. Here we list potential job roles and some of the leading companies in that sector.

Ethical careers and employers

The following websites help to provide information about careers and employers of interest to graduates who are concerned about the ethical, social and environmental responsibility of graduate recruiters.

  • Ethical Consumer www.ethicalconsumer.org   information on the social and environmental records of companies
  • Forum for the Future www.forumforthefuture.org.uk Educational charity promoting sustainable development
  • People and Planet http://peopleandplanet.org
  • UK Social Investment Forum www.uksif.org lists organisations supporting socially responsible investment
  • Centre for Alternative Technology www.cat.org.uk publishes The Sustainable Careers Handbook (available from the Careers Service reception Desk)
  • Scientists for Global Responsibility www.sgr.org.uk produce briefings on issues including climate change and sustainable development and a contacts list of ethical employers and training

Corporate social responsibility careers

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) covers a wide range of issues emerging out of business activities and their impact on society, the economy and the environment including:

  • Environmental responsibility and protection
  • Sustainable development and investment
  • Ethical business strategy and consulting
  • Ethical human resources management and employee relations
  • Corporate governance and accountability
  • Social and community partnerships and investment
  • Climate change

Careers in CSR

Careers to consider

Air: quality & pollution control
Animal health & welfare

Portfolio Careers

What is a portfolio career?

A portfolio career is about doing two or more different jobs on a part-time basis with different employers that when combined are the equivalent of a full-time position, instead of working a traditional full-time job. Portfolio careers typically focus on your skills and interests, though managing your career yourself is the key element.
These jobs might be complementary or unrelated and could include

  • part-time employment
  • temporary jobs
  • freelancing
  • self-employment

Advantages of a portfolio career

  • More flexibility and freedom.
  • Variety: less chance of boredom as there is constant change.
  • Better work/life balance: ideal for people who have other responsibilities e.g. children or elderly relatives
  • Take ownership of your career: more autonomy. You rather than some big company, control your fate.
  • Freedom from company politics.
  • More personal growth and fulfilment: you can travel, do voluntary work, return to study or pursue a hobby as part of your portfolio.
  • Can sometimes earn more money from 2 part-time jobs than from one full-time job!
  • Can be a second career after retiring early.
  • Part-time workers may be more attractive to smaller employers, as they offer more flexibility.
  • Can set up your own business, without the risks of going full-time
  • Can use several different skill sets and play to your strengths.
  • If you aren't sure of your long-term direction, it allows you to try several different career paths.
  • By not putting all your irons in the same fire it can help to alleviate the lack of job security present in the current job market.


  • Feelings of isolation: may not have a feeling of belonging anywhere in particular.
  • Have less chance of promotion and may get ignored for training and career development
  • Sometimes loss of benefits such as pensions and paid holidays
  • Have to balance competing demands for time, and manage the effort
  • Possible drop in earnings and financial uncertainty
  • Part-time staff often do more work than equivalent full time staff
  • May not have a recognised job title and status that comes with this
  • More uncertainty and lack of a regular routine
  • Little separation between work and home life

Skills needed to build a portfolio career

  • Resourceful:
  • A positive thinker: tolerant of risk
  • Organisational skills
  • Time management: ability to work to deadlines
  • Adaptable: can juggle several tasks at once
  • A good communicator– important for networking and bringing in business

Time out

Many students think of "taking a year out" after they graduate, but this needs to be carefully planned. Otherwise, you run the risk of spending a year stuck in the same sort of unchallenging job that you did during your vacations, gaining little in the way of skills, experience or satisfaction. The resources listed below will help you to avoid this trap, but first a couple of questions to ask yourself:

Think first - why do you want to take time out?

  • To earn some money to pay off your debts?
  • To travel?
  • To decide on a career?
  • To gain some relevant work experience?
  • A bit of all the above?

What can you do?

Almost anything! These are some of the most popular options:

  • join an organised project
  • find your own job or internship
  • travel independently. working as you go
  • follow a course to improve your skills or develop an interest

- and a question which students often ask careers advisers:

What will future employers think?

A lot will depend on what you have done during a gap year and how you present it. If you have spent a year backpacking around the world, your applications should show how you planned and organised the trip; how you dealt with any problems you met along the way, how you funded it and what you learned from the experience, rather than just listing the countries you visited.


Volunteering UK

  • National Council for Voluntary Organisations 
  • Youthnet Opportunities for young people including careers, adventure challenges, training for business and industry, vocational training, further and higher education, gap year challenges, opportunities abroad, working holidays, volunteering and expeditions.
  • DO-IT Search through over 1,000,000 opportunities to volunteer by voluntary work type e.g. children, art, heritage, environment, museums, sport and by location in the UK
  • Volunteerics.org UK Government funded ICS brings together 18 to 25 year olds from all backgrounds to fight poverty in overseas and UK communities through once in a lifetime volunteering opportunities.
  • Canterbury and Herne Bay Volunteer Centre

Volunteering Abroad

  • www.volunteerabroad.com US site which can be searched by country or job type
  • Oyster Worldwide offers volunteer projects ranging from 1 – 12 weeks in a variety of worldwide destinations. Options range from spending some holiday time working on an animal welfare project in South Africa to living in South America for 12 weeks, living with a Chilean family and improving your Spanish
  • www.workingabroad.com Sussex-based organisation. The site carries information on voluntary work opportunities in the humanitarian, educational, agricultural and environmental fields in over 150 countries world-wide. They can also (for a fee) match your profile with organisations seeking volunteers
  • Concordia International Volunteers Registered charity who promote international volunteering abroad and in the UK
  • ICS Restless Development Overseas volunteering programme
  • Gapforce

Projects Abroad based organisation running specialised projects across the world

Gap year

  • Prospects Web Information on Taking Time Out 
  • First Gap Year covers travel planning, packing, health, safe travel, solo travel, hostels, hotels, flights, decision making, finance, accessories, volunteer work, teaching English and working abroad
  • Bunac offers work abroad programmes, internships, summer camps and volunteer positions
  • www.igapyear.com gap year information and first hand advice
  • Oyster Worldwide offers volunteer projects ranging from 1 – 12 weeks in a variety of worldwide destinations. Options range from spending some holiday time working on an animal welfare project in South Africa to living in South America for 12 weeks, living with a Chilean family and improving your Spanish
  • Real Gap Experience gap year projects and programmes in over 30 countries
  • Student Job helps students find the job they are looking whether that is during study, as a placement/internship, temporary - during a gap year or in summer
  • Year Out Group - an association of 35 leading UK year-out organisations arranging courses, expeditions, voluntary or structured work placements
  • Telegraph article- 100 best travel companies for working abroad
  • Gapforce


Last updated