Cassie Reynolds — Unsung heroes live and work all over the world. You may even be one yourself. While a small percentage of these people may make the evening news, most professionals who make a difference in others’ lives are never recognized. This lack of recognition does not impact their dedication or the quality of their work. If your primary career motivation is to make a difference in the world, there are many paths you can take to accomplish this goal.
Choose Your Education Wisely
Getting an undergraduate or graduate degree takes personal sacrifice. You allocate time, money, and effort to your education. In return, you want your new career to deliver financial and personal rewards in equal measure. You also recognize that 80 percent of your waking hours five days a week will be occupied by your work, so you want it to be enjoyable. Whether you pursue a human services degree or a degree in finance, you want to select a degree plan that gives you the best chance of making a difference in areas in which you feel inspired and skilled.
See Beyond the Job Title
Making a difference is not about selecting a job title that is associated with helping people, like social worker or nonprofit manager. Rather, you want to choose a job that is a good fit for your personality type, aptitudes, skills, and interests. This process can take some time. Sometimes you won’t find, as Frederick Buechner put it, “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” right away. If you have already begun higher education but feel unsure about your ultimate career goals, you might choose an undergraduate major that includes a liberal arts background and then pursue an advanced degree such as a master of public health online. Because public health is a vast and growing field, your education will allow you to take your career in many different directions.
Careers That Change Lives
Any career that emphasizes your strengths has the potential to make a difference and change lives. Keeping an open mind about how you can best serve others will help you identify your ideal career. Here are some ideas to help you brainstorm.
- Educator: Today’s educators are much more than information transmission specialists. As a teacher, you develop relationships with your students that go far beyond the subject studied. Teachers are in an ideal position to become mentors and role models for students as well as experts in their subject matter.
- Entrepreneur: As an entrepreneur, you can combine business acumen with hope. Many educated entrepreneurs have started enterprises to benefit minorities, women, children, the disabled, war veterans, or the impoverished. As an entrepreneur, you are an employer, a visionary, a strategic partner and an agent of change.
- Activist: As an activist, you may use your skills on behalf of animal or human rights, in politics, in business, or nonprofit work. Activists correct imbalances in the system with innovation, creativity, and personal effort. You can be an activist as you work for an employer or combine activism with entrepreneurship to fulfill your unique vision.
- Writer: As a writer, your influence is primarily felt through the printed word. Whether published online or in print, your words can potentially affect millions. As a journalist, you can research and write to correct wrongs and misunderstandings. As an author, you can promote connection, healing, and hope. As a technical or freelance writer, you can help others achieve their dreams through creating compelling copy.
You Making a Difference
No matter what your skill set is, you can make a difference and also earn a living. If you are willing to challenge yourself, stretch beyond your comfort zone, tap into your intuition and study hard, your efforts will lead you to a perfect career fit.
About the Author
Cassie Reynolds is working toward a human services degree. She has a strong interest in public health and hopes to work in a rural community to improve residents’ access to health care.