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Department of Sociology and Anthropology Simon Fraser University CAREERS Taking a different approach to your career choice Many first and second year undergraduate students continue to evaluate the usefulness of their university degree in terms of its’ perceived long-term monetary value. The salary offered for entrance level positions upon graduation, and the opportunity for career advancement still remain the central imperatives for career decisions by many individuals. By contrast, very few evaluate their academic programs in terms of personal fulfillment and happiness, the accumulation of knowledge, or in terms of their contribution to society. The executive director of The Urban Futures Institute, David Baxter, urges students to take a different approach to their career choices. He claims; “Success is not measured by having a hot job but by personal criteria, often dealing with happiness, contributing to society and conforming to a set of personal values. So I try to give students a way of framing how they might find success. I tell students that they will be in the workforce for 50 years…With that timeframe, the measure of success will not come from today’s or tomorrow’s market, but from what people value for themselves.” Baxter makes a valid point: external gauges of success will change many times throughout your career, while by contrast, your internal gauges of ‘success’, or rather, ‘happiness’ are likely to remain much more stable. For example, as you begin thinking about your future career, you may wish to consider the answers to some basic questions, such as: What do I consider to constitute a “good” job? How do I measure ‘success’ in my life and in the lives of others? What are my long-term objectives? Although you may not yet know what kinds of career will interest you, it is worth considering these now. When viewed as a vehicle for future happiness and fulfillment, career development takes on a new shape and meaning. Many vocational guides and self-help books present real life character sketches, for example, chapter one in Adventure Careers. After reading the first edition, one reader wrote to the authors, Hiam and Angle, stating: “Somewhere I had learned that work was one thing, and what one enjoys in life was something separate.” Regrettably, at an early age, many of us learned that work and enjoyment were an unlikely marriage. This fatalistic perspective leads many people to see their future career as something that they have little control over. Former students, strongly emphasize the necessity of doing research, and being imaginative, and flexible about career options. Good news for Sociology & Anthropology students! Canada’s BEST CAREER Guide’s forecasting to the year 2010, describes a greater shift from the three industries that characterized the twentieth century; agriculture, industry and finance, personal and healthcare services, to information, leisure, and tourism. This bodes well for sociology and anthropology students. The editor of Feather writes: “As we search for clues to identify technological, economic and political trends, we find that everything always starts with people.” This seemingly obvious statement is all too often ignored by students as they begin to think about choosing an academic program. These long-term shifts could mean that the outdated view of employment, demanding individuals to choose between monetary rewards and personal satisfaction may begin to dissolve in the not-to- distant future.
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