57% of employees want work that makes a difference for society. Do you?

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Aug 22, 2018
Sep 30, 2018
Employment Status
Full Time

This content is brought to you by New Horizon Academy recognized as a Top Workplace in both 2017 and 2018.

A post on a personal Facebook page asked those approaching retirement “Based on what you know now, would you choose the same type of career again?” While not a scientific survey, the responses were still intriguing. Those who had chosen a career in a caring, instructive, helping, or service oriented profession (teaching, medicine, elder care, public service, for example) answered with a resounding “yes,” while those who had built their careers in other areas answered with less enthusiasm. But are the results of this informal poll surprising? Not to those who have chosen a career where “making a difference” is part of the mission; where results are tangible and rewards are intrinsic, often touching a person’s heart and fulfilling a sense of purpose that a paycheck alone cannot reach.

Early care and education is one of many fields where strong human connections are built, and where making a difference can mean helping a tiny one take their first steps or cheering as a pre-kindergartener masters the art of writing their name. And like early childhood educators, others in a helping or caring profession found great value in knowing their work leads to a more fulfilling life for others. Perhaps it’s helping a patient recover from surgery, or authoring legislation that makes our world a better place to live, but those who “made a difference” had careers where their hearts were filled.

As one of our 2018 Top Workplaces, we asked four New Horizon Academy employees to tell us about how their work provides motivation and inspiration; indeed, how the work they do makes a difference:

Chad Dunkley, Chief Executive Officer – At what point in your company’s story did the concept of “making a difference” become a core value? “Since our first classroom opened in 1971, making a difference has always been at the heart of the work we do. But we also had a wakeup call in 2003 when funding support for low and moderate income families was slashed. We saw firsthand the devastating impact when children and families were forced to leave our programs because there were no more resources for them. This coincided with the release of research which proved that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age 5 reinforcing again that a child’s first classrooms make the most significant difference for their future. So, we committed time, energy, and our passion to securing additional funding for all children to access high quality care, including those who attend New Horizon Academy.

Laurie LeBon, Center Director – How does your work with young children and their families fulfill a sense of purpose in you? “ I believe my purpose is to have a positive and loving impact on as many lives as possible. My career as a child care center director has allowed me to do this. To care for and love children during their earliest years gives them the building blocks they need to create goodness in their lives. When you show love and acceptance, you are teaching others to do the same. I know I am making a difference!”

Daryl Woods, Classroom Teacher What personal qualities are important for someone in a career where making a difference is the primary source of motivation? “I believe a person should have three qualities if they want to do this kind of work. First, they should wake up each morning knowing their purpose; that today, they have the opportunity to make a difference. Second, you must be prepared for that purpose, understanding that your actions can be the reason for someone’s successful day. And third, you must know how to stay productive in the mission of thinking of others first, of how to meet their needs. These are the qualities I have worked on for almost twenty years in my career.”

Kaylene Kalkbrenner, Director in Training – “What is your background, and what inspired you to pursue a career in a caring profession? “While in college, I worked part time as a toddler teacher. After college graduation, I was an education policy fellow with the Institute of Educational Leadership in Washington, D.C. and then an outdoor educator in Colorado. Deciding on a career in a caring profession was an easy decision. I have received unparalleled mentoring and support.  Not only does a caring career allow one to be personally fulfilled and happy, but it allows those feelings to infect others with long lasting impact.”

It’s often said that the millennial generation is motivated by the concept of giving back, of knowing that the work they do truly matters. In fact, it’s been estimated that up to 57% of younger employees want to do work that makes a difference for society. But this is really true for every generation. We all hope to add value to the world in some way, and investing talents and skills in a caring, helping, or serving profession can fill this need. There are multiple career options, many ways to both work and make a difference!

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