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Finding the Value of Work

“Choose a job that you like, and you will never have to work a day in your life”-Confucius

How many times have you heard this advice? I grew up thinking that the only career path I should pursue is one where I love the work that I am doing. While I still strive to find these positions, I believe that work has inherent worth and that finding a job you love is a luxury that the millennial generation sees as normalcy.

This is a timely matter to discuss with college graduations having just passed throughout the month of May. A trending conversation topic, there was a recent Opinion piece in the New York Times that discussed the inherent value of work and the millennial generation obsession with, “do what you love”. There is such a tone of entitlement in those words. What about a statement like, “work to earn a living that will make you comfortable?” Many of my family members previously or currently work in the service industry, in jobs where they work days and evenings and weekends just to pay bills and earn a week’s worth of vacation at the end of the year.

Are we devaluing that work in advising everyone to follow their passions professionally?

Service jobs, tough jobs, need doing. They are available, and they are a source of income. Doing what you love is not an accessible notion for those just trying to get by. It’s not even necessarily the best option for the more privileged demographic of college graduates. Why?

Several reasons. Doing what you love doesn’t always pay the bills. I don’t know of a job that exists that fulfills all of one’s passions. And just because you love something, doesn’t mean you want to work in that field. Trust me on this last one. I love the outdoors, but I quickly found that working in the environmental field turned my interests into an emotionally draining chore.

So, why do millennials follow the “do what you love” notion?

A recent study suggests that Generation-Y (I identify this as late teens to mid-twenties entering the work force) values job fulfillment over salary benefits and security. Since this generation is the first to grow up with the internet, they have been exposed to more of the world’s problems and strive to be a part of the movement that can solve them. There’s also the idea that instead of getting married and identifying themselves through hobbies and home life, millennials identify with their jobs and create communities around where they work and with whom they work.

At some point, we need to reassess our personal values when it comes to work. I know I’ve had to do this several times throughout my very early and brief professional career. Family is of the utmost importance to me, and someday I hope to provide economic stability and security to my parents and close relatives the way that they have done for me. Although I still search for jobs that are fulfilling, even more so, I eventually want a job that will reasonably pay off my student loans so that I can spend less time worrying about finances, and more time cultivating meaningful relationships.

In Professor Gordon Marino’s words from the NYT Op-ed, “sometimes we should do what we hate, or what most needs doing, and do it as best we can.”

The 2014-2015 Graduate Fellows: Jacquelyn Stephens and Camille Veri

Jacquelyn Stephens became a Graduate Fellow after graduating from DePauw in 2014 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in French. Jacquelyn was a Prindle intern during her senior year. She initiated the Popcorn and Pop Culture ethics series and served as the Lead Intern for the Undergraduate Ethics Symposium. She is interested in a wide range of ethical issues, including those related to research, morality and the environment.

During her time at DePauw, Jacquelyn was in the inaugural class of the Environmental Fellows program. She was a Resident Assistant for three years and served on the Community Standards Hearing Board. Jacquelyn was also a Presidential Ambassador her senior year. During Winter Term 2013, she traveled to Hawaii to study sustainable agriculture and renewable energy. Jacquelyn was also active within Putnam County as a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor and America Reads tutor.

Jacquelyn is originally from St. Charles, Illinois. She plans on eventually pursing her Ph.D. in Psychology. In her spare time Jacquelyn enjoys yoga, the outdoors, and getting creative in the kitchen.

Camille Veri is a 2014 graduate of DePauw with a B.A. in Philosophy. Camille interned for the Prindle Institute for two years and served as Lead Intern her senior year. Some of her projects as an intern included initiating an ethics-focused film series at Prindle and helping to organize a community-wide dinner at the Campus Farm. Camille was selected to participate in Prindle’s 2014 Undergraduate Ethics Symposium.

As a student at DePauw, Camille was very involved with DePauw’s radio station, WGRE 91.5 Your Sound Alternative, serving as Music Director her sophomore year and a DJ each semester on campus. She was also involved with Philosophy Club and Film Club. Camille was a member of DePauw’s Honor Scholar program as well as Phi Sigma Tau, a Philosophy honorary society. During the fall of her junior year, she studied Central European Studies and Film Studies in Prague, Czech Republic.

Camille is particularly interested in sustainability and environmental ethics, as well as in examining the ways in which literature and film reveal the complexities that accompany ethical thought. She enjoys bike rides, baking, and day trips to Bloomington. Camille is originally from Columbus, Ohio.

Director’s Desk: Introducing The Prindle Post

Large stone, wooden and glass structure. You can see the entrance, but also the water feature in the front of the building

I’m thrilled to write this in anticipation of the launch of The Prindle Post. My hope is that it be a global forum for ethics discussion. But in my first entry from the Director’s Desk, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about my vision for The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics, the host of The Prindle Post.

On July 1, 2014 I assumed the roll of director of the Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics. To say that I am excited to build on the foundation that my predecessor, Bob Steele, laid almost seems inappropriate. It seems inappropriate because he left us much more than a foundation. We have an exciting array of regular programs that have become synonymous with “Prindle” under his leadership. We will continue many of the programs Bob Steele started and focus our efforts on new and exciting ways to build on those programs to reach out to the DePauw community and the rest of the world.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” Knowledge is a dangerous thing in the wrong hands. This is of great concern to our founder, Janet Prindle ’58. Prindle has stated:

“My DePauw liberal arts education greatly enhanced my personal life and advanced my career. But today’s graduates face an increasingly complex array of choices. I believe that DePauw’s liberal arts program will be more relevant if students’ critical thinking skills include ethical issues within the subjects they study.”

So, one of our primary goals is to help DePauw students synthesize this great education they’re getting and put it to service to answer one of the most fundamental questions a person can ask themselves: How ought I live my life? And as they start to grapple with that question, I want to see DePauw students evolve into thought leaders. I want them to be the people in the room who spot the ethical issues that others might miss, and I want them to be the leaders thoughtful, rational, deliberative discussion about complex moral issues.

The Prindle Post is one small part of our new programs to achieve this mission, but The Prindle Post is not limited to DePauw students. The Prindle Post is for everyone. It serves our educational goals for DePauw students because they help build it, but it is designed to be a resource for everyone. So, on behalf of the staff at the Prindle Institute, I invite you to join us here at The Prindle Post so that we can, together, thoughtfully and rationally, discuss the critical issues of our time.

I look forward to our discussions.