Meaningful Work – Why Start Now?

The average American will spend about 23,000 hours of his or her life working.  That’s over 11 years.  It seems natural to turn to hobbies and activities outside of work to find a sense of purpose or meaning, but when so much of our lives will likely be spent in the workplace, it makes even more sense to pursue work we find meaningful.

Why it Matters

Meaningful work looks different for everyone.  We’re all created with unique skills, gifts, and passions, and we find meaning in the spaces or opportunities where those parts of ourselves intersect.  It’s that intersection – or “sweet spot” – where we operate at our very best, make the greatest contribution, and are the most satisfied.  

Choosing to forgo the pursuit of meaningful work has two important consequences: missing out on the opportunity to do the work that will be most satisfying to you, and failing to be a responsible steward of the potential you have been created with to contribute to society with the work you uniquely do best.  The pursuit of meaningful work, or work within that unique “sweet spot”, matters for your own life and for the good of those around you, but it won’t happen by accident.  You have to own your career by making the conscious decision to discover your sweet spot and then actively pursue work within it.

Getting Started

There are different avenues one can take on the pursuit of meaningful work, and the Career Development Center is here to help you sort out which avenue is best for you.  The most important piece is simply to start now.  The earlier you start, the sooner you will discover where your skills and gifts intersect your passions, and the sooner you can start to learn about the work that exists in that intersection, which then allows you to start gaining the experience you’ll need to eventually do that kind of work.  

Starting early is your best chance to ultimately have a career doing work that is meaningful to you.  Which, you’ll recall, translates into the 11 years of your life spent in your workplace made more meaningful.

So start preparing and planning now, whether you’re a first year student or approaching graduation.  Start networking and thinking about internships.  Consider the resources that exist around you, and take full advantage of them now.  

The Career Development Center (CDC) offers a plethora of resources to help you get started in pursuing meaningful work.  For students still trying to discern their skills, gifts, and passions, the CDC offers access to strengths and interests testing.  For students who have an idea of what kind of topics they find meaningful, but are unsure of how to translate that into a career, the CDC offers a “What can I do with this Hope College major” page on its website.  For students who know the exact career they’re aiming for, the CDC’s various handouts and guides as well as an online resume review service and employment listings through JobStop are excellent resources to explore. These sources can help with building a professional network and securing internship experience to prepare for full-time work in such a career.  All of these resources, and many, many more are available for you to take advantage of now, whatever year or stage you’re currently in.

Stop by the office in the Anderson Werkman Financial Center, or call to make an appointment with a CDC staff member today, to start now in preparing for a lifetime of meaningful work.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

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