I often interact with students who are interested in making a difference through their future careers. Some of these students have plans of starting their own non-profit or social enterprise. Others express an interest in pursuing a career in a helping profession. Their goals are future oriented and involve making a difference someday.
My question for these students, why not make a difference today? Tennis legend and activist, Arthur Ashe offered these words of wisdom: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
This is my suggestion for students who want to have a meaningful career and make a positive difference through their work. Start today!
Where are you?
As a student at UConn, you have joined a network of 32,000+ students, thousands of alumni, hundreds of staff and faculty. Already you have a community larger than many towns in the United States. Take advantage of the time you have to meet those around you, network with their networks, and build support for causes you are passionate about.
What do you have?
Apart from an incredible network, you have access to hundreds of campus events, student organizations, and unique courses. Get involved in and outside of the classroom by attending events, joining clubs, or taking classes on topics related to the causes you are interested in pursuing after UConn. University and college campuses across the world have been the launching pads for numerous non-profit organizations and social enterprises because of the many resources and support available to students. You can even start your dream project by applying for a financial award through The UConn IDEA Grant program.
What can you do?
It is tempting to think you do not have the time to make a difference now because of a rigorous academic schedule. My suggestion, be realistic about the time you have and do what you can now. Have a few hours available each week? Join a club, service organization, or volunteer nearby. Do you need to write a research paper for a course? Select a topic that relates to your future career interests. Interested in learning more about service? Take one of the many Service Learning courses offered through the Office of Public Engagement. Want to get involved in the community? Apply to participate in one of Community Outreach’s semester long or one-time service opportunities. Know you want to make a difference through your career but are unsure of the opportunities available? Attend one of Careers for the Common Good’s programs to learn about different social impact careers or schedule an appointment with a career consultant at the Center for Career Development to further explore career opportunities.
There is no need to wait until you graduate from UConn to make a difference. By starting now you will have the opportunity to narrow your interests, gain relevant experience, and make a difference. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” today!