Discovering Careers to Enact Social Change

The career you choose has a tremendous impact on your life. Your job is likely to affect every aspect of your day-to-day existence. This applies to not only material things, like the car you drive or home you live in, but also to your overall sense of well-being and happiness. It is for this reason that many look for career paths that allow them to make a difference in the world. When you think of careers in social change, jobs like social worker and politician may come to mind. But in reality, almost any job can be a vehicle to enact positive social change. You just have to know how to look for the opportunity to make those changes.


Consider Your Strengths

What are you good at? What makes you happy? Think about your strengths in terms of academics, as well as your personality and character assets. If math and science are your favorite subjects, perhaps a career in medicine or scientific research would be a good place to start. If you get squeamish at the sight of blood and needles make you queasy, you probably aren’t destined for a career in direct medical practice. However, that doesn’t mean you should rule out the medical field entirely. A career counselor at your local college or job center is a good resource to help you explore some careers.


Personal Convictions Matter

In order to find a job that suits you, you’ll need to examine your beliefs. What are you passionate about? What issues and philosophies are you opposed to? Working toward social change means working to change the opinions of people or the policies of a society. You need to have a good sense of yourself and your views in order to find a career that’s a good fit for you. A disconnect between actions and personal convictions leads to being unhappy in your work, which will spill over into the rest of your life.


Where Do You Stand?

Another aspect of work that’s important to consider is whether or not you see yourself as a leader. Assess your personality. Do you love to shine in the spotlight or would you rather help out in the background? This self-knowledge will better direct you toward the type of career that will ultimately lead to contentment. Be honest with yourself. If you’re an introvert, you can still make a difference, just as there’s no shame in enjoying the limelight. It is important to know your preference.


Finding Your Calling

Now that you’ve given these matters some thought, you probably want to know where to go from here. While not all jobs for social change require a college degree, many do. At the very least, some experience, along with some specific qualities, will be necessary. There are a number of resources to help you on your way to attaining a career that makes a difference. Here are just a few:


Online Resources

  • – This site provides a large listing of jobs in the social arena, as well as lists of foundations and organizations. You’ll also find resources on volunteer opportunities and internships, as well as programs broken down by category and geographic location.
  • Opportunity Knocks – Opportunity Knocks is an online job site geared toward nonprofits. They offer a job search center as well as an area for job seekers to post their resumes. You’ll also find resources on topics related to the nonprofit sector.
  • Jobs for Change – This is a section of the website that was developed to offer information and services to job seekers looking to make social change. There is a comprehensive career advice section with articles about everything from interview tips to rocking a career fair.  A listing of job categories will guide those interested in researching career possibilities.



  • Good Works: A Guide to Careers in Social Change by Donna Colvin
  • 100 Jobs in Social Change by Harley Jebens
  • Making a Living While Making a Difference  by Melissa Everett
  • Careers for Good Samaritans and Other Humanitarian Types by Margaret Gisler

You can make a decent living while doing good for others. Keeping an open mind, combined with perseverance and thorough research, can lead you to a wide range of possibilities in working to make a difference.

Mary Davis writes about a variety of career help topics for Inside Career Info.


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