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Jobs that have meaning: Career switching to rewarding work important to today’s worker

Posted Mar 24 2009 3:15pm
“I’ve spent the last decade doing a job that paid well, but was completely unrewarding to me. Now, I want a different kind of job. I want to feel like my work has meaning.”

A small group of us were out to dinner, and Jennifer was answering my query, “What kind of work do you do?”

Jennifer continued, “I’m at the point in my life where I feel like my days are too valuable to waste doing a job that doesn’t matter to me. I honestly don’t care what I earn; I just want to feel like my life – and my work – makes a difference in the world.”

The Boston Globe ran a story this week about the number of people who are choosing to leave their jobs to become teachers. One man ran an internet start-up, but loved reading at his kid’s school. According to the article, “He loved the feeling he was making a difference” – and he got hooked. Today, he teaches middle school in the suburbs of Washington D.C.

My friend Jennifer is contemplating entering the career of nursing. She wants to work with children; possibly infants and newborn.

As economic turmoil reshapes our world, many people find themselves at a career crossroads. Some view this as an opportunity to switch to a career that offers more personal satisfaction, even if the paycheck is lighter. In industries such as education and health care, pathways are opening up to help people get there quickly.

For people who wish to convert their skills to teaching, the New Teacher Project helps people quickly switch careers. The program has seen an increase in 44% from the previous year.

In healthcare, more and more opportunities to gain at least entry level skills through distance education are emerging. These programs allow individuals who don’t have the time or money for a full-time traditional education to gain the knowledge and skills – and often, important certification – needed to enter these high-demand careers.

For the career-switchers mentioned in the Boston Globe story, the personal pay-off has been huge and long-lasting. Getting a paycheck while doing a job that offers personal satisfaction is worth it, they all agree. For anyone contemplating the change to a more satisfying career, new online training and resources can make the change easier and more accessible.
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