God bless capitalism. It has proven to be the best economic system in the history of humankind. This makes commerce and, by extension, large corporations, the place where many jobs exist. Despite movie caricatures to the contrary, most large corporations do not act with purposeful malice, as in immorally, but rather with disregard for morals, as in amorally. That’s still a problem for an idealist. Idealists desire a teleological purpose to their activities. The means have to go towards a higher end.
Unfortunately, most jobs fall into the category of moral neutrality. Making widgets is neither bad, nor good, from a philosophical perspective. But, widget making, in all of its iterations, comprises a high percentage of jobs. So, as an idealist you are faced with an uphill battle to find meaningful work.
So, what to do?
(1) Find a career doing good within the conventional world
You could carve out a place within the conventional corporate world that meets your desires. I have a friend who works at a major corporation that, according to the press, is not a white hat company. But, she designs programs that empower women around the world. Within her role, she’s doing higher end work even though the company generally does not.
(2) Find a career within an organization that does good
The rise of socially responsible companies has been one of the great developments of the 21st century. The combination of not-for profit, public service, and socially responsible organizations gives the idealist many potential career possibilities within this realm.
(3) Create your own socially responsible work
Becoming a socially responsible entrepreneur or creator of your own non-profit group or working as a freelancer within an area that you believe does good requires significant energy. Nonetheless, you could create your own work that serves a higher end.
I have observed that idealists often struggle to find footing in the muddy fields of the real world.
But, once they figure out how to make their passion a career reality, they are the happiest of all workers.
Daryl Capuano, the CEO of The Learning Consultants.
Daryl has been advising adults in Connecticut on their career counseling needs for over a decade. Daryl’s own path from Ivy-league lawyer to education-entrepreneur stems from following his own process for finding work that is both happy and practical.