Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Post graduation message - find a job that you love

Written May 24. Posted later.
Not long ago I received an email from a colleague who worked with me in the Center for Teaching Excellence but then moved on the accept a higher paying position. I had written to express concern about a problem I encountered when doing business with the company she now works for. I called it to attention because I believe bad news is the most important news a manager needs to know and because in this case, I could offer a simple ‘fix’ that would solve the problem, please customers and save money. Her response saddened me. The problem was known, but would take at least a year to fix. I never recommend [my company] to my friends, she continued, “It has faced so many problems that turnover has been high. Most of those who remain are just discouraged.”

A few days later I was counseling a very intelligent young IT professional who had just been admitted to Law School. She was uncertain whether to enroll because so many lawyers, in mid career and afterwards seemed trapped and unhappy in their careers. I agreed. I have spoken with so many attorneys who feel the same. They have sought me out in their fifties because they were considering a career change. They were earning a big salary, but getting little satisfaction out of life.

Most human beings spend most of their lives at work. Not everyone has options but the young women and men with whom I mostly work, do. I can think of no more important decision for a young person that choosing work that is a calling rather than “just a job.” I taught my first university class in the fall of 1963. Most days, I am still eager to the office and engage with the work of American University. When I walk across our campus I am thankful – every day – for the privilege of a rewarding calling and such a beautiful setting in which to live and work.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me there is an important assumption behind such a comment as 'I can think of no more important decision for a young person that choosing work that is a calling rather than “just a job.”'. I think when one's mindset is that happiness is dependent on a job, a happy career is a good choice. However, another approach is to reject society's pressure to make one's job so intimately tied to one's happiness. Once this is realized, a job can be a just a job --a resource by which to live a happy life.

At the very least, these arguments, your point and mine, are the struggles that drift through my mind as I begin my post-undergraduate life. :)

6:17 AM  

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