Reflecting your values and moral code in your actions has seemingly never been more important. In fact, one recent report on consumer culture found that 83% of millennials would now rather buy from a company that aligns with their values. As consumer culture shifts towards supporting brands and businesses with transparent ethical and moral positions, how does this affect your employment choices? Is it possible to choose internships that align with your world view? The answer, happily, is yes. Knowing the tremendous benefits that interns can bring to companies should give you some confidence when applying; you have a lot to offer, so why not give it to a company that aligns with your values?
Establishing your position
Over the last few years, employees have been more vocal about looking for workplaces with purpose and clear values, and it would appear that challenge is paying off. A recent report from Deloitte shows an improvement in employee satisfaction at the way companies are creating a more diverse and inclusive work environment, with 61% agreeing their employer was "doing well" at reducing its impact on the environment. Of course, before you can evaluate how a company’s values sit with yours, it’s worth being clear on your own position and what you stand for. You can then start to think about the positive choices you can make. For example, if you want to gain experience in investment and fund management, you may want to choose a company which promotes socially responsible funds so that you can feel a sense of purpose and align with the organisation's goals.
Do your research
One of the most important parts of applying for any internship is doing your homework and finding out as much information as possible about the company to whom you’re applying. Look over their website, follow their social media, and read reviews from their consumers. What are their stated values, and how do they live them out in practise? Don’t let anyone tell you that purpose-driven products and values are only for small, agile, companies or startups. For example, Unilever’s collection of brands which focus on sustainable living is currently growing 50% faster than their other brands. Choosing an employer with ethics does not mean ruling out the big players.
Preparing for the interview
As with any interview, make sure you come prepared with any questions you want to ask. If there are any discrepancies in terms of the company’s stated values and its behaviour, find a polite way to ask. Remember to really listen to the answer; it may not be the one you were expecting, but most companies should be able to explain what steps they are taking towards a given goal. If progress isn’t coming fast enough for you, or you feel that your values still don’t align, go back to your original position. Is this a deal breaker for you? Perhaps you can use your talents to speed up the changes you'd want to see fro, a consumer standpoint.
The landscape of work is changing as employees and consumers ask for more from employers. The good news is that there is evidence to show this is working. If you’re looking for an internship which fits with your morals or ethics, be clear on where your boundaries are, investigate the company’s position beforehand, and be prepared to have a conversation about where they are on their journey. Perhaps it will be one you can take together.