In the coming weeks, many students will begin the process of graduating and entering the workforce. Others will begin graduate school, have internships or summer jobs or perhaps spend a few months in relaxation before they prepare for these things.
The Great Recession has taught us to get the best and highest paying jobs possible and many have searched for the best opportunities they can find.
The result is that students have asked themselves which route will be best for them. Where will they find the most job security, the best salary and the most prestige. These are important, practical things to ask and I urge another question to consider: What can I contribute?
This question applies to any course of action whether it is a summer position or a long-term career. Instead of focusing on the best company, internship or graduate school that will accept you, why not ask how your talents can be best used?
As Civil Rights leader, the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, proclaimed: “To hell with your career! What is your calling?”
These questions are not mutually exclusive. Aspiration is an admirable quality, but so is spending one’s time with a higher calling. There are obvious benefits to asking where one can thrive, grow and be indispensable. Job security and personal fulfillment come to mind, but personal and professional growth comes with finding a place in which you can thrive.
The best job training is doing what you are passionate about — learning to improve will come naturally.
American society and political rhetoric tends to value risk-taking in terms of business. Entrepreneurs and innovators receive much glory and admiration, and for good reason. The future economy depends on the pursuit of passion and contribution to society.
But why should it be limited to entrepreneurship? Risk-taking applies as much to following a passion in the humanities, arts, and other pursuits.
Society depends upon people risking financial security or what seems certain in exchange for shaping the culture and identity of society. It is indicative of societal values that these risks are not as celebrated.
Any society is made up of people who love what they do and always strive to do better, whether clergymen and women, teachers, doctors and nurses or volunteers. These are the people who have influenced us the most, who we should thank as we prepare to do more with our lives and whose values we should perpetuate.
Of course, the luxury of having the option between choosing a course of fulfillment or one of professional or financial security is not available to everyone. Decent jobs are hard to come across for college graduates at the moment, and there is nothing wrong with putting personal fulfillment on the back burner for a while.
In our time, a college education is also unreasonably expensive, and makes the pursuit of personal growth more difficult. But, when the question inevitably arises again, reflect upon your time since graduation and think of where you have been and where you want to go.
Essentially, it is important not to settle. There is not much time left to take important risks in life. Most of us are not quite the people who we will be for the rest of our lives, so why not make the most of the time now while we don’t have to worry about providing for a family?
As easy as it is to complain about coursework and academic obligations, our education has afforded us incredible opportunities. We owe it to ourselves, and more importantly to society, to return and build upon what has been entrusted to us.
To the graduates, I applaud your hard work and wish you the best in your calling.
Online Editor Ross Fogg is a College junior from Fayetteville, Ga.
Cartoon by Jessica Goldblum