Passion v. Career: Questions & Musings at a Career Networking Night
I had the pleasure of stopping by my alma mater last night for a government, law, and public service networking event. Amidst all of the wonderful conversations and questions I got from undergrads (and a few grad students), a theme of wanting to know “where to go” in their careers and lives stuck out to me.
For so much of our lives, the next step is expertly scripted. We submit applications, receive approval and confidence through acceptance letters and semesters. The “real world” is much more fluid in its schedules and definitions of success. What’s meaningful and interesting to one person may not be to another. And - with a few exceptions - your life no longer includes grades, schedules, and predetermined pathways.
I’m encouraged by the thoughtfulness and bravery of so many young people that I spoke with last night. They’re asking the right questions, wondering whether “passion” is everything it’s cracked up to be and considering possibilities that will render them independent and on their way.
"What if I don’t know what I want to do?", one student asked me. The real truth, of course, is that very few of us (students, working, etc.) are doing exactly what we set out to do as 18 year-olds. The magic is in just getting started and seeing where your experiences and interests take you.
As one student told me, “I’m just nervous I’ll spend so much time waiting for the perfect job or career that I’ll never actually get started or do something. Then what’s the point?”
With a combined cast of over 40 individuals from all walks of life—entertainers, athletes, government officials and advocates—the NO MORE PSA Campaign offers a simple call to action: NO MORE excuses. NO MORE silence. NO MORE violence.
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And it was then and there that I felt the first stirrings of the coming disaster that would soon envelop the Post and so many newspapers like it. Most of them never even seemed to see it coming, even when what was happening was right in front of them. It was there that I also first saw the extraordinarily stubborn resistance by old media — which still exists like some super-barnacle that will not detach from a sunken ship — to what the digital age meant.
It happened every day — other reporters playfully mocking me for using email so much or for borrowing the Post’s few suitcase cellphones, or major editors telling me that the Internet was like the CB-radio fad, or sales people insisting that the good times would never end for newspapers as long as there were local businesses that needed to reach consumers. (In truth, they still do, but that’s another letter.)
But having been the principal retail reporter as one local shopping giant after another closed its doors to be replaced by national chains who did not advertise very much in newspapers, I saw that the terrible problem was made worse when the Post’s other revenue stalwart — classifieds — also seemed to be ripe for digital disruption.
In 2012, 36% of the nation’s young adults ages 18 to 31—the so-called Millennial generation—were living in their parents’ home, the highest share in at least four decades. The number of young adults doing so has risen by 3 million since the start of the start of the recession in 2007. Our report takes a closer look at the numbers — and the contributing factors.
"Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It’s when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine."
“Let’s agree that all of us are human, and all of us have our faults and our flaws,” Sulzberger tells me. “And when you’re looking for someone to be a leader, one of the things you’re looking for is self-awareness. Not to suggest you’re looking for perfection, because you’re not going to find that, but for someone who says, ‘Well, yeah, I can be that way; I’m focused on it; I recognize it.’ ”—Arthur Sulzberger on Jill Abramson, in Newsweek’s "Good Jill, Bad Jill: Executive Director Jill Abramson, Queen of the New York Times"
“So without a standard to aspire to and a system to replicate, each organization has been tasked with building its own system, and building it without spending too much ‘overhead.’ So, in the typical pattern, an over-stretched staff member, likely someone who has no experience in evaluation but does have an MBA or experience working in Microsoft Excel, starts from scratch, and with no budget.”—Brian Trelstad, "Simple Measures for Social Enterprise", Innovations, 2008
According to [80,000 Hours]’s view of ethics-as-impact, a do-gooder job only “does good” insofar as you are better at it than the person who would have filled the job otherwise. “This is the replaceability factor,” says MacAskill. “The difference between you and the person who would have been in your shoes.” If you’re fully replaceable, you are, quite literally, not making a difference.
“It was not just that they were taking the same job and feeling better about it, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and whistling. It was that they were DOING a different job … one said ‘I’m a healer. I create sterile spaces in the hospital. My role here is to do everything I can to promote the healing of the patients.’”