How to make money and change the world at the same time

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Although social change and environmental rights have long been passions of college and university students, there has been an increasing trend in the business and industrial world to offer new careers for individuals who want to make a difference.

Particularly in the new green economy, there is more demand than ever for individuals committed to protecting the environment.  However, although these options are becoming more readily-available, many students find themselves confused as to the path which leads them to a career that fulfils their desire to help change the world.

Dev Aujla, founder and executive director of DreamNow, a charitable organization that produces “ideas that do good for the world,” and Billy Parish, founder of the Energy Action Coalition, a youth advocacy group that works on climate change issues, recently conducted interviews with people who have rewarding careers in a field they truly believe in and compiled all of their stories and resources in a free ebook called Occupation: Change the World.

There’s a common misconception that only volunteers can help change the world and anyone who wants to make a living helping the world is out of luck. Aujla and Parrish’s series outlines the steps someone who wants to change the world can take in order to have a promising career without having to live off of instant ramen noodles for the rest of their life.

With regard to the traditional education system, Aujla said while the education system is continuously adapting, it can only be a part of the path a person takes to success and the learning process has to extend out of the classroom. “When whole industries are being recreated, the experts are in the field. They are the entrepreneurs and to learn today means learning from them.”

This learning process can be accomplished by forming a network of contacts within the industry you’re looking to take a part in.  Of course, maintaining that network takes a lot of work, and an effective way of doing that seems to be a philosophical point.  Aujla said that “one of the most important things that you can do is following through on 100% of the commitments you make.”  This can help establish you as a reliable person, a quality valued by any employer.

Although branching out of the classroom is essential, Aujla said it isn’t necessary. “Your degree is a terrific base. It gives you a survey of knowledge, it provides you with the ability to choose what you think about, and it will now enable you to continue down whatever path you choose.”

He also said that, today, most degrees won’t send you on a direct course toward a career, which forces you to make the difficult decision of choosing a career for yourself.  While this might seem intimidating, it can ultimately lead you to a career that is far more fulfilling.

Making a positive difference is an admirable goal and one that easily shared by most students who try to maintain a positive outlook while venturing into the workforce, but that can sometimes be compromised by the desire for financial security, or simply because the jobs aren’t there.  As this is less often the case, there are many unorthodox methods out there which can lead to fulfilling careers.

Check out the Dream Now website for even more information about the options available to anyone who wants to make a positive difference in their career.

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About the author

José Gonzalez is currently studying English and psychology at the University of Toronto. He's tried his hand at a wide variety of jobs, from pizza maker to autism therapist, but so far he hasn't figured out his exact niche. He figures as long as he's making a positive difference in someone's life, whichever path he goes down is a good one.