When you’re in K-12 school, one of the most common questions you’re asked is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Many people are drawn to careers that allow them to earn a lucrative salary or those that let them travel around the world. Others prefer jobs that make a difference.
Leaning toward jobs that make a difference in the world is certainly admirable. You might think those types of jobs can only be found in the nonprofit sector. In truth, all sectors have plenty of job opportunities that allow workers to have a positive impact on the lives of their neighbors.
Healthcare Jobs That Make a Difference
Healthcare is often one of the first fields that comes to mind when a person thinks about meaningful careers. Indeed, what could be more impactful and rewarding than helping a sick or injured person feel well again? This is why so many people who feel compelled to serve others decide to become doctors or nurses. It’s also why some of those individuals choose to focus on underserved populations, such as the homeless or impoverished.
Yet, behind the roles of physicians and nursing professionals, there is a wide array of other healthcare jobs that make a difference. Consider the following:
- Physical therapist: People often turn to physical therapy for help recovering from surgery, acute injuries or chronic conditions. A physical therapist can make a difference in patients’ lives not only by improving their ability to function and reducing their pain, but also by empowering patients to feel in control of their health.
- Phlebotomist: A phlebotomist is a specialist in drawing blood. Many people are fearful of needles, so becoming a phlebotomist is an opportunity to help them by easing their fears and providing exceptional emotional support. Plus, phlebotomists help save lives through medical diagnoses and facilitating the blood donation process.
- Veterinarian: After earning your undergraduate degree, you may choose to go on to veterinary school and become a veterinarian. This line of work is highly meaningful for anyone who is passionate about animals and animal welfare. Furthermore, veterinarians have the opportunity to provide pro bono services to rescue organizations that take in abused and neglected animals.
- Community health worker: These professionals serve as health advocates for their communities. They develop and implement programs designed to help their neighbors enjoy a healthier lifestyle and a reduced risk of diseases and injuries.
- Speech-language pathologist (SLP): An SLP works with pediatric and adult patients suffering from a range of disabilities, including those related to stroke and cancer. SLPs specialize in helping their patients speak, eat, swallow and drink. The work SLPs do not only enhances health and quality of life, but also enables children to overcome academic obstacles.
As you can see, there are many opportunities within the healthcare field to make a positive difference.
People-Focused Jobs That Make a Difference in the World
Perhaps you’re interested in a job working directly with people, but you’re not quite sure that the healthcare field is right for you. There are still plenty of options to choose from. Consider the following people-focused jobs that make a difference:
- Social worker: Working within schools, hospitals, community organizations, child welfare agencies and similar organizations, social workers help people cope with and overcome life’s many challenges. For instance, a social worker may provide counseling to an individual who is struggling with racial prejudice, a young mother in need of financial assistance or a hospitalized elderly patient who has suffered from abuse. Social work is a challenging, hybrid role that blends advocacy, social services, counseling and mentoring services.
- Youth development coordinator: Youth development coordinators typically work for nonprofits, community organizations, governmental agencies or church groups. They develop and implement programs designed to enrich the lives of youths, such as by furthering their education or their personal development. Youth development coordinators play an instrumental role in helping at-risk children and teens stay out of trouble and on track toward a better life.
- Homeless outreach specialist: Homeless outreach specialists work for nonprofits or local governmental agencies. They engage with homeless individuals, often by traveling to shelters and “tent cities.” They then connect those individuals to community resources that can help them get off the streets. Housing, education, employment, healthcare and substance abuse treatment are all critical priorities for homeless populations everywhere.
- Correctional treatment specialist: This professional is a case manager or social services provider who specializes in working with convicted offenders who have left or are preparing to leave the prison system. It is exceptionally challenging for offenders to reintegrate into society, particularly if they have been incarcerated for long periods of time. These challenges are a major reason why recidivism rates are high in the U.S. Correctional treatment specialists help rehabilitated offenders become productive members of society connecting them to education, employment and housing resources.
- Special education teacher: Special education teachers work with students who have a range of learning, mental, socio-emotional, physical and developmental disabilities. They serve as mentors, advocates and teachers, adapting lessons to suit the unique needs of each student. With the help of a devoted special education teacher, students struggling with disabilities can work toward overcoming their challenges and pursue a rewarding, productive life after school.
Difference-Making Job Opportunities for Computer Enthusiasts
So far, most of the job opportunities discussed in this career guide have been those that directly help people. Yet, there are also plenty of jobs that make a difference in a less direct fashion. For example, students who love computer science might consider a career as a software developer, software engineer or information technology (IT) specialist.
At first blush, it might seem as if computer science jobs have nothing to do with making the world a better place. However, it all depends on the focus of one’s work. For example, a computer science professional can work on technology innovations that help to alleviate hunger, address unemployment and even combat climate change.
Here’s a look at some real-world examples of how people have used computer science for the benefit of society:
- Genome sequencing: Professionals in this field created genome-sequencing tech that allows medical scientists to develop personalized medicine.
- E-learning platforms: K-12 schools and universities are increasingly relying on e-learning platforms to deliver accessible education to their students.
- Catastrophe prediction: Modeling software is now capable of predicting whether a comet will hit Earth or where a devastating tsunami is likely to make landfall.
- Resource donation: The app HTC Power to Give allows Android users to donate their phone’s spare computing power to a grid focused on scientific projects, like researching Alzheimer’s disease treatments.
These are just a few examples of how computer science professionals can positively impact the world. Software developers, IT specialists and others can find meaningful job opportunities at a range of organizations committed to specific causes that vary from climate change to homelessness to social justice to education and so many more.
Grand Canyon University is a Christian, interdenominational university that embraces right doctrine and right practice in both heart and deed. We welcome and encourage our students to work toward careers that allow them to serve others in Christ. Click on Request Info at the top of your screen to discover the undergraduate or graduate degree program that best fits your career aspirations.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.