I want a career that helps…

In my work as a career consultant, I hear students quite frequently expressing their interest in pursuing a career that helps people. ‘Helping people’ isn’t necessarily a career field but instead, it is the way in which we do our work, the environment where we work as well as our motivation and value for the work that we do. 

Throughout high school and college, I spent the majority of my extracurricular activities engaging with my community. For me, this looked like volunteering at my church, taking classes that had service learning components, and participating in alternative break programs. Some of you may resonate with my experience, while others may have their own motivation. 

When you think about careers that help, start from a problem-solver perspective. What is a problem you are noticing in the world? What is a population or topic area that you are passionate about and what is a problem being experienced? Once you identify the problem you are interested in, it’s easier to connect careers and organizations that would align with your interest areas. 

Here are a few examples that might resonate with you!

Working With Youth:

Maybe you are one of those people who has always loved working with kids! I was that person too! You’ve been a camp counselor, volunteered in classrooms, and babysat quite a bit. There are so many careers that work directly with kids; you could be a social worker, a teacher, or a coach. You could work at a nonprofit organization, teach abroad, or become a guidance counselor or school psychologist.

Take time and find an environment where you can work with kids, connect, and ask questions of professionals working in those spaces to broaden your perspective of your options. 

Interest in Business:

Maybe you have always been interested in business but have volunteered for as long as you can remember and want to stay connected to the community. Remember, a nonprofit or community organization serves its community but also operates as a business oftentimes needing people with knowledge of the business sector, finance, marketing, web design, and beyond. 

Remember to survey yourself! Identify the skill sets that you have and combine those skills and your interests for a meaningful career choice. You can utilize your skills and interest in the business sector while supporting your community through volunteering to help develop business plans for individuals, or volunteer your time at a nonprofit helping with the finances; there are many ways to mix your skills and your interests!

Those are just two examples of how you can find meaningful careers that help others. Remember, helping others is part of the way in which we do our work and is connected to seeing and experiencing a need and working to help be a part of the solution.

If you want a career that helps, here are some tips to help you identify the right helping career for you!

  1. Survey yourself! Are you interested in a direct service role or more of an administrative role? Are you interested in a company that is highly engaged in the community or one that is actively embedded in a community around a topic area like a nonprofit organization?
  2. Talk to people! If there is a topic or issue area that you want to work on, talk to professionals who work in environments and at organizations that connect to those issue areas. People love to talk about their work and love to connect with others who want to learn more so take advantage of opportunities to learn about their careers, learn about industries or issue areas and ways in which you can help. 
  1. Use your resources. Take advantage of LinkedIn and Mentor Match to connect with alumni or professionals who are in a career or industry that you are interested in. Asking questions is the most important aspect of career exploration and will help you to learn about a variety of issue areas and organizations that could be a good fit for you. 

If you would like to talk with a career consultant about finding a career that helps, please make an appointment via hireBING.

By Lexie Avery, MS '15
Lexie Avery, MS '15 Senior Associate Director, Student Engagement and Career Readiness