- Kirk Snyder is a business communication professor at the University of Southern California, author, and Fortune 500 speaker.
- The following is an excerpt from his book, “Finding Work You Love: 3 Steps to Getting The Perfect Job After College.”
- In it, he helps college students and recent graduates identify their passions and connect it with fields, industries, companies, and roles that match these core values.
- Snyder also notes the impact of modern developments in technology and access to information on our work, and offers ways we can adapt our approaches to career planning and job hunting to keep up with these advancements.
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Right now, there is a transformation taking place in the world of work that is changing how people seek and find meaning through their jobs. This change absolutely impacts your path as you move from defining your own unique value to connecting it with fields, companies, and roles where you are rewarded for that value. Nowhere is this new meaning of work more apparent, at least to me, than among college students, and it undeniably factors into the equation of success.
After all, the sum of meaning that you take away from your job â€” in the present and over time â€” is part of that equation. So let’s take a brief but important side trip to get a closer look at how the meaning of work is changing and the catalyst behind its current transformation.
While it’s true that I think this change in how people seek and find meaning through their jobs is more evident among college students than in other demographics, I also find this type of transformation happening with others. The older you are, the less evident the changes, but they are still there and making an impact.
My takeaway is that the meaning of work is pretty much changing for everyone, but as college students, you’re simply closer to the catalyst behind the change, which I will do my best to deconstruct.
As we have already discovered, setting yourself up in a right fit after college has to be all about you in order for the job to be intrinsically motivating. This is a very different approach to career planning, because historically the focus has mostly been on the employer.
For example, in the past, job hunting looked like this: Who does the employer want me to be? Let me find the job first and then I’ll think about how I can change my resume and my story to meet their needs. It was very much a “Pick me, Pick me” mind-set.
But the power dynamics in the world of work have changed â€” connection and transparency have turned old mind-sets and paradigms upside down.
Remember the truism “Information is power”? Think about this enduring truth in terms of the workplace and the role it plays in how we seek and find meaning at work. Consider that, historically, company leaders held all the power.
As employees, we were often dependent on our boss to inform us about what was going on in our field, in the marketplace, and within the workplace environment itself. I couldn’t navigate to Glassdoor to see if I was being paid fairly. I couldn’t network with people through LinkedIn to compare different employers. We had to take the word of the boss about the financial health of the company, whether good or bad, because we had no place to go to fact-check. And we certainly never knew about company leaders personally, because, well, we weren’t living in a transparent time.
All that has changed. Today, employees have access to the same “power” of information that was traditionally held almost solely by employers. Today, college students and recent graduates are able to access the same level of information-based power that was once reserved only for employers. In fact, this is a paradigm shift that I encourage you to take advantage of by accessing all of the field-and company-specific information available to you as you fully define each Employer Point for potential right-fit jobs.
But think of this shift from a more macro perspective in terms of your instantaneous access to information about virtually everything that exists in the world beyond the workplace and its relationship to employee empowerment.
For example, if I asked you a question about the capital of a minuscule country or the life expectancy of a panda, you could pull out your phone, tablet, or laptop and, thanks to the internet, answer me within seconds. Ask “How are Cheetos made?” and you’ll immediately be linked to an article that tells you how to “turn a hunk of cornmeal into a knobby Cheeto.” Yes, I tried it, and it works. Having access to incalculable amounts of information is a powerful feeling, no matter how silly the question posed.
In the contemporary world of work, whenever you want and wherever you are, you can be connected to highly specific layers of information about your field, your employer, and even previously hidden layers, such as the personal lives of corporate leaders.
And therein lies the catalyst creating the change in how people seek and find meaning through their jobs.
Because information is power, empowered employees cannot be coerced into engagement; you have to be motivated into engagement, which requires that your job is meaningful in a different and more personal way than it ever was for your parents or grandparents. I believe this fact is one key reason why the Working You system has struck a chord for my students. There is perhaps no greater or more sustaining source of professional meaning than intrinsic motivation, which is exactly what the system’s right fit produces.
As college students and recent graduates, your view of the world has undeniably been “zooming out” since you were born, and as a result, the meaning of work looks very different from this new, empowered vantage point. Let’s continue our side trip for one more block, because as future leaders yourselves, I think you may find it valuable.
Excerpt from “FINDING WORK YOU LOVE” by Kirk Snyder. Copyright Â© 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Kirk Snyder is an award-winning business communication professor at the University of Southern California, a critically acclaimed author, and Fortune 500 speaker. He teaches in both undergraduate and graduate programs in communication, culture, and the contemporary workplace.
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