Find work with purpose

“Many people today have not been given vocabularies to talk about what virtue is, what character consists of, and in which way excellence lies, so they just talk about community service, figuring that if you are doing the sort of work that Bono celebrates than you must be a good person.” –  David Brooks, The New York Times 

CSR Blog excerpt:

The new wave of social entrepreneurs believes work needs to be meaningful. What kinds of people are drawn to careers devoted to social change? Where should they work, given the changing roles of governments, philanthropic organizations, and corporations? How can young people who want to make a difference find jobs that matter?

Should you work for a profit, a non-profit or the government? Or for a profitable non-profit? Or for an unprofitable, grant-taking for-profit? Or a for-profit foundation that makes grants to the government?

If you’re a student who is hoping to find meaningful work in the new social economy, here’s some advice I hope will help your search:

1. Don’t be pigeonholed by your academic credentials. Social organizations that are becoming more businesslike need people who know about finance, marketing, operations, and strategic planning. Corporations that put a high priority on social outcomes need people who know about social service and sociology. Governments need people who aren’t tainted with the bureaucracy and can get things done. In the new social economy you’re valuable in ways that you may never have thought about.

2. Talk about your own vision of social change. The most successful organizations in the new economy are those that are working backwards from a future vision of social change. They are inventing as they go and are looking for likeminded people who have the courage to trust in their vision. Share what you believe and discuss issues that you’re passionate about.

3. Understand and stand by your social purpose. There is no shortage of talented, highly educated people, who have had really interesting volunteer and intern experiences. There are far fewer people who have a sense of purpose about why they’ve chosen a particular academic discipline and why a particular work or volunteer experience was so meaningful.

4. Don’t settle. In his 2005 Commencement Speech at Stanford, Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.”

 

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