The Job Search And Career Advice Blog header image 2

Career Goals: Balancing Idealism and Pragmatism

June 27th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Posted by

The Y generation (me included) has becoming increasingly interested in tangible, short-term rewards. Our goals have followed our materialistic desires, and many of us yearn for ridiculously high salaries within an unrealistic time frame. Even if you graduated from Harvard or Yale, you are not entitled to a six figure salary and mansion before you put in your time in the workforce. Unfortunately, many university graduates’ parents provide them with an elaborate and extravagant lifestyle from an early age. This leaves them with the desire to outdo their parents. This desire comes with an attitude of entitlement but a lack of perseverance. Unless you have amazing contacts (or your parents do), corporate America has plenty of casualties, young people who think their intelligence is a substitute for experience.

Tangible short term rewards may not come in the form of money. Instead, individuals find power and societal change to be fair compensation for their efforts.  You may be a do-gooder wanting to improve society through work for NGOs or government bureaucracies. We desperately need more do-gooders, those insistent on leaving the world a better place than they found it. Unfortunately, the Y generation continues to forget individuals, idealists and even corporate scoundrels, must put in their time to truly make a difference.

For those wanting to work towards social justice and public interest initiatives don’t beat yourself up for working in an unrelated field after college. If you are an investment banker, wanting to help those in need, you may actually be EXACTLY where you need to be. It sounds crazy, I know. Before you write off the idea, name some of the largest donors supporting NGOs and social justice initiatives. Now, think of any big name in public service (presidents, defense secretaries, etc). Where did they all come from? Different cities, maybe, but most of them came from money. You don’t necessarily need to make big money to make a difference, but you need to learn how to deal with people who have it. Corporate experience may give you the experience you need to do something completely unrelated BETTER than those without the same skill set.

I worked for a City Government office once, and my supervisor worked as a corporate lawyer for ten years. Her assistant (who may actually be smarter than my supervisor) only had experience in social work (still very valuable). Every time her assistant went to fundraisers for new projects, she had a hard time convincing donors her project was important. She came back with few takers, and usually no money. My supervisor, on the other hand, started every speech with the same line, “I am an attorney by training, so I can relate to your concerns.” All of the donors immediately gave her their full attention. They put their Blackberries away and took out their checkbooks. These experiences helped me realize what the Y generation is lacking: patience.  You may not get everything you want right away. You have to work for it, and your goals may not be an arm’s length away. In fact, they may be counterproductive. However, your experiences WILL be useful in some way or another.

Hard work is essential to achieve any tangible goal. The Y generation needs to remember, the world is full of smart people. We aren’t entitled to money or fame right after college. In fact, we may never be entitled to both. However, working hard, with reasonable expectations, gives us the skills and experience we need to do something substantive.

This is a guest post. About the author:

This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99



Related posts:

  1. 5 Career Lessons of the Clinton/Obama Race
  2. Career Change After 50 – How to Market Your Experience

Tags: Uncategorized

  • Come Recommended

    Hi Lauren,
    This is a wonderful post. As a mentor to 5 interns (recent grads and current college students), I hope to impart this valuable knowledge on them. Gen Y is full of optimism and ambition, which clashes with today’s competitive job market. It’s easy to become discouraged, just keep trying!

  • JobCrank

    I’m recently interning for JobCrank. I’m learning way more with the hands on experience than I would in a class. I like how I can easily relate this post and it’s advice I can use as I further my education and experience.

  • Pingback: Career Goals: Balancing Idealism and Pragmatism « Smartdept's Blog