When Paul Berg was looking for a job after studying business administration, he initially assumed that his career entry should be one thing above all: financially lucrative. “I came out of my studies and thought that I had to earn money first and then I could take care of something useful later,” he says. “I knew too little about social entrepreneurship and that you can earn a living with it.” Then he met entrepreneur David Diallo, a social entrepreneur who founded companies with meaningful business models. Paul Berg was on fire: "We didn't just want to create a job platform, we wanted to support people with our work on the subject of sustainability throughout their lives."

Together they founded GoodJobs in 2016, a platform for “sustainable jobs that make sense”, as it says on the homepage. The founders' vision: They want to offer positions that not only meet the needs of millennials, but also make the world a better place. Last year almost two million people looked for a job on the platform. The 25- to 35-year-olds make up the largest proportion. There are now 2000 organizations working with GoodJobs. The two founders thus cover a need. A study by the Zukunftsinstitut from 2019 shows that 87 percent of millennials find a meaningful and fulfilling job important. In contrast, only 55 percent found above-average earnings relevant. The problem: "The demand for meaningful jobs is therebut there are still not enough, although the supply is increasing, ”says Berg from GoodJobs.

“Germany is an industrial nation,” says Tristan Horx from the Zukunftsinstitut.

“There are fewer start-ups or digital companies that attract university graduates particularly frequently in this country than in international comparison,” says Horx.

However, it is precisely these companies that tend to have a more sustainable focus.

This means that young professionals have to make compromises.

And it also explains why German millennials are a little more generous with their employer when it comes to sustainability: If the employer does not meet their own sustainability standards, only 28 percent of German millennials would change their jobs - compared to 38 percent globally.

For many, starting with a low salary is out of the question

The dream of meaningful action often comes to an end when it comes to salary. Many millennials are well educated and have invested a lot of time and money in advancing. Start with a low salary? For many, this is out of the question for economic reasons. So it's no wonder that young professionals looking for a meaningful job often “experience disillusionment that is largely related to the overall financial situation,” says trend researcher Horx.

An example from the WHU Business School shows how important the topic of meaningfulness is to students: Since 2009, students have been organizing the so-called “SensAbility Summit” there. This wants to "sensitize students to the fact that business and sustainability do not have to be in conflict with each other", explains the 20-year-old business administration student Joel Cacutalua. Around 250 students, founders, young professionals and investors come together every year and discuss all aspects of meaningful entrepreneurship.

Cacutalua organized this year's summit together with fellow students, each year it is a different student turn. For the first time, the summit took place exclusively digitally. Although Cacutalua is only in his fourth semester, he already knows exactly what he expects from his future employer: “You shouldn't exclude certain companies as potential employers. It can be enriching to motivate a company to become more sustainable through one's own work, ”he says. This is exactly what the summit wants to convey to the participants: "You can drive a change at every salary level and in almost every company," says the student. In this context, however, he excludes two sectors: the tobacco and armaments industries.

Paul Berg from GoodJobs also observes that more and more industries are offering meaningful jobs. Green banks, which invest their customers' money in environmentally friendly projects, are particularly popular. Automobile manufacturers that focus on electromobility also have good cards with young career starters. “Companies are realizing that there is a systemic rethinking among millennials and that new demands are being made on them,” says Berg. “However, you have to react faster and more strongly to it.” Cacutalua from WHU relies on change on its own. "Hopefully there will soon be a flood of young people who want to make a change," he says. He finds role models in former WHU students,who founded sustainable companies after completing their studies - such as the online farm shop Frischepost or the solar start-up Enpal.

Keywords: