On Purpose


Am I eligible to apply to the programme?

You must have a minimum of equivalent to 3 years of full-time professional work experience, be fluent in English and have the right to work in the UK to be considered. The average Associate has 5-7 years of work experience.

We recruit from a wide range of industries and professional backgrounds. The specific sector/context is not important, but to be successful on the programme you need to have had experience working in an office environment and on tasks that require some level of complexity and problem solving. Experience of some (not all) of the following, would be useful: managing stakeholders and partners, project management, strategy development, communications, analysis, research or business development amongst others.

How does Brexit impact EU applicants?

Please see the UK Goverment website for the latest information on Brexit, and for details of working and living in the UK:


We cannot help any candidate access the right to work in the UK (nor make any exceptions), and every applicant must have their right to work in the UK confirmed, and have the ability to prove this, ahead of making an application for the programme. 

However, we do run programmes in both Berlin and Paris, so if you have the right to work in the EU but not in the UK, you can consider applying to one or both of those programmes. 

When does the programme start and end?

We launch two cohorts each year, one in April and the second in October. The programme runs for one year, and you can view whether registration is currently open, and apply, here.

Is this programme full-time?

Yes. The programme is full-time, and Associates work in their placements 4.5 days a week, joining their cohort and On Purpose for our Learning & Development programme every Friday afternoon.

What sorts of things will I be involved in as an Associate?

Associates can help with discrete projects as well as learning about the day-to-day running of the organisation. 

For example, at HCT Group one of our Associates developed and implemented the first framework for measuring social impact with the Deputy CEO, and our Associate at O2 created and launched O2Learn together with the Head of Brand Strategy. 

Read the case studies section of our website to read more about the experiences of our Associates and Fellows.

Do I get to choose my placements? Can you tell me more about the matching process?

On Purpose works with both our Associates and our placement hosts to determine which Associates will work with each placement over the course of their year on the Associate Programme. We take your background and interests into account, as it might be that you want to make use of your existing skills and experience, or to try something different.

On Purpose allocates placements through a two-stage matching process which takes into account Associates’ and placements’ preferences and finds a combination that works for the entire group, ensuring each Associate works with two placements and vice versa.

Will I gain some insight into the placements the other Associates are on?

Yes, during our Learning & Development sessions, delivered on a Friday afternoon, time is set aside for Associates to share their experiences and learn from each other. 

This is often one of the best ways to learn and we will help and encourage Associates to share their experiences. We also make sure that you have the opportunity to meet people from other placement organisations.

Where will the projects be based?

All of the placements will be in or around London. If you have to commute out of London on a regular basis, the placement host usually allows you to work from London some of the time and reimburses your travel costs.

Our Associates are required to be within a commutable distance from London due to the nature of the programme. Our Associates work at placement organisations from Monday to Friday morning and attend our Friday afternoon training sessions on a weekly basis. The vast majority of the trainings are in person and most placements offer hybrid working arrangements with a few which are predominantly remote.

I am a parent or guardian, is flexible working an option?

The vast majority of our placements offer flexible working hours for people with children / who have caring responsibilities. While we aren’t able to offer part-time working, we are happy to discuss flexible working arrangements.

There may be a small number of placements that due to the nature of the work may be more challenging in terms of flexible working arrangements but we would take this into consideration during the matching process.

What kind of placement organistions does On Purpose work with?

On Purpose aims to develop the next generation of leaders across all kinds of purpose-driven organisations. These include social divisions of profit seeking companies and charities. Also, we believe that the next generation of leaders will need to bring together the best from all sectors. Placements in the private and charitable sectors will help you learn and develop the skills you will need to overcome challenges that social enterprises and other purpose-driven organisations face.

Will I get paid?

You will be paid £24,000 per annum pro rata as a living allowance. This will be adjusted because the programme lasts for a little under a year. The fact that you have half a day of training will, however, not affect this amount.

Why only £24,000?
On Purpose believes that it is right to reward high-calibre people appropriately. However, many organisations in this sector are able to attract volunteers for free, so £24,000 pro rata is a big commitment for them.

On Purpose offers a unique combination of on-the-job experience, rigorous training by both professionals and academics and access to powerful networks. The mentoring and coaching add an extra layer to create a comprehensive learning experience beyond that of other academic or training programmes.

We believe that we are striking the right balance by ensuring On Purpose Associates have enough to live on and not making it prohibitive for all kinds of purpose-driven organisations to take part.

What support will I get?

In both your placements you'll be assigned a line manager who will help ensure that both you and the placement organisation benefit from your experience. You will meet this manager at least once a week. 

In addition, On Purpose provides support through your cohort and peers, via our mentoring and coaching offer, through our Learning & Development programme, and through the On Purpose community.

What do you mean by mentoring and coaching?

You will work with two mentors throughout your year as an Associate, one mentor for each of your placements, and meet roughly every 2 weeks. Our mentors work with us on a volunteer basis and come from a range of backgrounds. A number of them are Fellows of the programme and we also have people from corporate and social spheres.

All our coaches also work with us on a volunteer basis and are registered and qualified  professionals who have not only done significant amounts of coaching at senior and executive levels in organisations, but often have also had careers in business themselves.

You’ll meet with your coach every two months, on average, on a one-to-one basis. This is an opportunity for you to take a step back from the details of your placement and the pace of the year. You’ll be able to discuss what it is you’re taking from the year and what areas you feel you need to be making a more concerted effort with given your goals.You might find, like Associates have in the past, it’s a good time to consider decisions around your career.

The coaches are independent of On Purpose and their objective is to support your leadership development; expect to be challenged to find your own solutions based on your own strengths and values.

Will you help me find a job after the placements end?

We will certainly help you find a job after On Purpose. We hope that it might be in one of the placement organisations or other organisations in the On Purpose network. We can’t guarantee you a job, but you will be part of a powerful network.

How many people stay on at their placements?

This varies and depends on the relationship between placement and Associate. About 50% get offers although not everyone takes these up and beyond this, around 50% will stay on at least a short-term basis but this is not guaranteed or something that you should expect when you sign up to the programme.

Do people stay in touch after they leave On Purpose?

On Purpose’s growing alumni network is one of the programme’s core strengths. Once you complete the leadership programme you become an On Purpose Fellow. We keep in close touch with Fellows through social events and include them in the selection, training and mentoring of new Associates.

Will I get time off?

Yes, you will get a normal UK holiday allowance, exact number of days will depend on the organisation you work with and will be inline with their policy. 

Who is behind On Purpose?

On Purpose was set up in London in 2010 by Tom Rippin. We expanded to Paris in 2015 and Berlin in 2016. For details about the On Purpose core team, and the rest of our community members, click here

On Purpose is supported by leaders across the private and social sectors, who are providing placements, training or both.

Is On Purpose a charity?

We are a company limited by guarantee that specifies that it is non-profit. That means we have no shareholders and re-invest any profits we make back into the organisation. Because we are a social enterprise programme, we have taken care to design a business model that can operate in a financially sustainable way.

What is On Purpose’s business model?

We are a social enterprise ourselves, so we aspire to cover our own costs without needing to rely on grants or donations. Our income comes mainly from placements hosts, in two ways: First, placement hosts pay On Purpose a fee (£7.5K-£12.5k) for being part of the programme; second, if they hire an Associate after the programme, they pay On Purpose another fee (of £11k-£16.5k).