Choosing a Career

[ 6 ] Comments

by jendoop

The subject of careers is much more complicated now than it was 30 years ago. Gone are the days of starting with one company and building your savings until retirement when you box up your belongings and leave the same building you stepped into fresh out of college. These days it is rare to actually have one career, let alone one employer. As knowledge grows and fields of study expand there are an increasing number of careers to choose from.

This summer my daughter is working for Monsanto, a corporation that has had a lot of bad press lately. She and I have talked about the ethics and principles involved, as well as talking to her supervisor about those issues (who happens to be in our ward). In the end she decided that the pay is good and it’s a great opportunity to get real world experience in her field of choice (biology) before she even starts college. However, we don’t tell a lot of people who she works for (until now).

As my children get older I have choices to make about my second career, the first one being full-time motherhood. I’m torn between writing (which would include teaching) and social work. In a volunteer capacity I’ve working in both fields and see the pros and cons pretty well – neither will make me rich.

What factors did you consider when you chose a career?

How did your faith and values play a role?

As members of the LDS church we believe in charity, service and sacrifice. Does this effect our career choices, not in an indirect way, but concretely?

How do you view your career in the eternal scheme of things?

About jendoop

Jen writes, reads, paints, walks, prays, eats and sleeps. Paul is her co-conspirator in teaching these skills to 4 children.

6 Responses to Choosing a Career

  1. Liz C says:

    I believe our gospel foundation must inform our choices in our work, or we risk a fractured life. There are entire sections of work I could not contemplate due to some VERY deeply-held values that I cannot compromise. Working for a group I believe to have evil motives would fall into that category, certainly, but so would jobs that require me to lie to others to “make the grade” (I did not last long as a telemarketer), and jobs that require me to associate with people who nurture a poor spirit in their lives (though I consider “rescue” work in a different category… I’m talking about being around people who choose to lower themselves daily into spiritual muck.)

    I’ve been pretty blessed with interesting work my whole life, though, and have created my own job most of the time (either by seeing a niche and filling it, or by morphing my duties to make the most of my curiosity and skills). When we started our family, my husband and I looked at options that would keep me at home, so the kids have grown up with a mom who works from home and sometimes travels for work. The arrangements mean we live very simply–I do not make, working for myself, what I could command at a corporate level–but it’s so flexible and suits our family needs.

    I think people of faith have tremendous capacity to do amazing out-of-the-box things. Look at the ways individuals are inspired to re-educate entire cultures about traditional foodways and health, or care for orphans, or create low-cost artificial limbs, or expand educational access and quality! I do believe we have an obligation to really LOOK at how our work affects the work of God, and try to undertake careers and jobs and hobbies that allow us to be part of that work, on a spiritual and temporal plane. Every talent and passion can be used for good or ill, after all.

  2. Kris says:

    When I was young I read the book “Of Human Bondage;” this book described horrible poverty in England. I determined to do what I could to alleviate poverty and came up with the following:

    * Pay a generous fast offering

    * Spread the Gospel

    * Take care of my family and neighbors as I could

    * Provide employment opportunities.

  3. Nick Galieti says:

    This is one of my favorite talks about just the subject you are talking about in this article. It is from John H. Groberg, entitled “What is Your Mission?” http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=882

    I seem to be searching this question at other times in my life as well and the only thing I come back to is this talk. It has always helped, at a minimum, given me the hope that if I don’t feel an answer right away, I know the answer is coming.

    As a side note:
    One might be able to conclude, from some of the later parts of this talk, that Elder Groberg would have at one point (at least at the time of this talk in 1979) not been all that inline with what Monsanto has been accused of doing. He may have called it a pollution or a perversion. With that being said, taking profit driven rhetoric out of the conversation, Monsanto could be trying to find a way to multiply and replenish the earth, they just may not be doing it in the healthiest way possible. Your daughter could help realign those efforts, maybe find a healthier way to accomplish their corporate goals–be an influence for the good that company is capable of offering. However, if she listens to that talk, she will know which way to go, and hopefully you will too! (Hope that helps).

  4. jendoop says:

    Liz, I like your comment about how people of faith can do things out of the box, see things in a different light. What kind of makes my heart palpitate when I read your story, and those of others like you who have chosen unorthodox or “create your own” career paths is the inconsistency of funds.

    Kris, I haven’t read that book, it sounds like a worthwhile read. The last point on your list is one that is relatively new to me – the thought that hiring a maid or having someone mow my lawn being as beneficial for the economy and not laziness or indulgence.

    Nick, Thank you for the talk, I will read it. Thank you for your other observations also, especially having faith that the answer will come as I move forward.

    Your thoughts on Monsanto are along the lines we’ve thought of. In some ways they have been portrayed evilly for GMOs, but GMOs have been around forever. In fact, a man named Borlaug, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work – modified wheat, which saved millions from starvation in third world countries. This quote from him encapsulates the things we’ve been discussing about how our values impact our work:

    “I realize how fortunate I was to have been born, to have grown to manhood, and to have received my early education in rural Iowa. That heritage provided me with a set of values that has been an invaluable guide to me in my work around the world… These values … have been of great strength in times of despair in my struggle to assist in improving the standards of living of rural people everywhere.” from http://www.normanborlaug.org

    • Liz C says:

      Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) are radically different from traditional hybridization (which I support.) Just clarifying: Bourlang developed his wheat and won the Nobel prize was using traditional hybridization, which does not insert genes from one species into another. GMOs have decidedly *not* been around forever.

      Income fluctuations matter the most if one carries debt. We work very hard to carry no debt, so fluctuations have far less impact on us than one might fear. It’s not *easy*, really, but what good thing ever is? :D

  5. Paul says:

    I remember when I was in high school in the 70’s I was told over and over that it didn’t matter what I chose to do — I could be anything I wanted! Yeah, well, anything I wanted that someone wanted to pay me for.

    My father actually gave me the best advice when I headed off to school. He told me as long as I was among the best in my field I would always be employed. That meant that I ought to choose something where I could excel, whatever it was.

    That said, I did abandon my first choice very near the completion of my schooling because I couldn’t square it with the gospel-centered life I wanted, and chose a much more traditional path. But at nearly 55 I still wonder what I’ll be when I grow up…

    Good on your daughter for seeking “real” experience at an early age; that instinct and initiative (and the experience) will serve her well.

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