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Life after uni

Three critical lessons for building an impact-driven career


When planning your career journey, it’s common to think, “what do I want to do?”, but UNSW graduate and co-founder of Ripple, Tim Middlemiss (MJournComm ’11), suggests to instead ask yourself, “what impact do I want to make?”.

Tim had spent his entire life wanting to be a vet, “I still have my Harry’s Practice shirt, hat, tote bag and pen,” he says, but a scarring year 10 work placement quickly changed that desire. 

After some time working at Taronga Zoo, I enrolled to study at UNSW. I didn’t have a particular job in mind, but I did have an overarching goal; to help the for-purpose sector tell their stories.


Since graduating, Tim has gone on to partner with global institutions like the United Nations and World Vision as well as local organisations and government departments to build and engage their communities for social impact. He was also one of 200 emerging leaders selected for the Obama Foundation Leaders Program. 

After years of working with organisations to ensure the success of their social impact campaigns, Tim has shifted his focus to helping young people identify the impact they want to make through their career, and then supporting them to achieve it through new community platform, Ripple

Tim shares his top three lessons when it comes to building an impact-driven career:

1) Take the long, winding road

Rather than treating your career as a ladder, moving from juniority to seniority, think of it as a non-linear path. You may have to try out a few different positions before you find the right fit, but that doesn’t mean you’re not advancing. As former President Obama said, “progress doesn’t always travel a straight line, but instead zigs and zags in fits and starts”.

Man in car

2) Passion can follow action

Even if you want to follow an impact-driven career, sometimes you won’t feel passionate about anything (except maybe going to the beach) - and that’s fine! Passion doesn’t always have to drive action, it can come from the momentum that builds when you roll up your sleeves and get to work. 

Point 3

3) And if at first you don’t succeed, try again

We often idolise people who ‘stick things out’, but it’s okay to change your mind. Research shows that only 6% of adults end up in the careers they thought they would, and studies suggest that on average, young people will have 17 different jobs over five career changes in their life. Take the valuable skills you’ve gained and channel them into something you’re passionate about.

Point 2
A good rule of thumb is to define the impact you want to make, match possible careers to that impact and then identify potential jobs to start you on those careers. 
Time Middlemiss
Tim Middlemiss (MJournComm ’11)

Tim was a founding director of for-purpose creative studio, Agency, which counted global impact organisations, like the United Nations, World Vision and Greenpeace as their clients, alongside major corporate and political brands. He was the co-creator and presenter of World Vision’s youth leadership conferences globally. He served as Chief of Staff and senior advisor to former World Vision CEO, Tim Costello and is now Head of Engagement for impact investment firm, Leapfrog. In 2019, Tim was named one of the inaugural Obama Foundation Leaders for the Asia Pacific, where he met Skye Riggs and together co-founded Ripple, the impact hub helping young Australians harness their agency to shape the future. 


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