What’s to Love in a Job? (Part 2 of 2)

by Shana Montesol Johnson

What's to love in a job?Happy Valentine’s Day! Since many of us spend just as much – if not more – time working than with our significant other, I thought this holiday was a good time to take a look at what’s to love in a job.

Last week, I shared what blog readers, friends, and acquaintances – most of who work in international development – said they love about their jobs.  The responses fell into four general categories of what’s to love in a job.  Last week’s post covered the first two: Impact + Making a Difference, and Autonomy and Flexibility.  Today’s post addresses two more important areas that bring joy on the job, The People and Good Fit.

The People

Working and interacting with great people we like and respect – whether co-workers, development partners, or stakeholders – can make a huge difference in our enjoyment of our jobs.

“I get to work with smart people who I can learn from and always inspire and challenge me,” remarked an Asia-based director at a development consultancy.

Linda Raftree, ICT4D Advisor, Plan West Africa and Plan USA, said one thing she loves about her job: “people I’ve met and become friends with.”

“One thing that I like about my job (in microfinance) is that my coworkers, not only at Grameen Foundation, but those that I interact with in the industry and the microfinance institutions I have worked with, are passionate and very committed to the work we do serving the poor,” said Julie Peachey, Philippines Project Manager, Microsavings Initiative Solutions for the Poorest with the Grameen Foundation.  “It’s a smart, like-minded bunch that want to make a difference in the world and that continues to motivate me.”

“What I love about my job is the stimulating diversity of well-educated people who are passionate about promoting policies and projects that assist poor, marginalized and vulnerable population groups in Asia and the Pacific,” said a mid-level manager at a multilateral development agency.  “Further, the fact that my colleagues can approach their serious work with good humor adds to my appreciation of the job.”

Diversity and international exposure are also appealing to people working in development. “I enjoy the chance to work with people from many different countries,” remarked a lawyer working for a multi-lateral development bank.   An independent consultant said, “Working on projects for large development organizations like the Asian Development Bank and World Bank provides both the opportunity and challenge of problem solving with people who represent different countries and cultures, speak different languages, and possess differing world views. Such diversity makes me feel more aware of and connected to the world around me, providing a sense of being a part of something larger than myself and important on a global scale.”

Good Fit

A job that plays to your strengths and matches your interests and abilities is a great fit.

“It’s the one job where I am working to my potential and using my varied work and life experience fully. I am able to balance my love to learn new things, think, plan and strategize with my love for interacting with people,” a development consultancy director shared.

Scope for creative problem-solving can signal a good fit.  Steve Munroe, Co-Founder, Satori Worldwide, remarked, “I love the fact that my job allows me to be creative…there is always something popping up that requires a creative solution!”  Linda Raftree of Plan West Africa and Plan USA, also said she appreciates the “opportunity to creatively think about challenging issues.”

Learning seems to be a criteria for a good fit for many people.  Margaret L. Kuhlow, Personal Services Contractor at the Millennium Challenge Corporation shared, “My favorite jobs have been those that include constant, continued learning, where I have to be on my mental “toes” all day.  I find that daily intellectual struggle extremely invigorating and motivating.  And, in international development – when the outcome of that problem solving can improve someone’s life and future prospects – it’s even more rewarding!”

In a similar vein, Chris Herink, National Director, World Vision Myanmar said, “I love the fact that my job is diverse and dynamic, never boring.  We work with so many different people – from community members to government ministers to donors.   We work with so many different organizations – from the UN to local NGOs to different World Vision entities.  We work on so many different issues – from child labor to water to microfinance.   And all of this takes place at the chaotic intersection of culture, economics, history, and politics.   While the complexity can be overwhelming, I know that I am happiest in my work when I am learning.”

What I Love About My Job

In thinking about my own job, as a career/executive coach to international development professionals, I found that what I love about it also falls into our four categories:

Impact + Making a Difference: I love working with a coaching client who starts off feeling overwhelmed by her workload, ineffective in her job, and generally frustrated, yet by the end of our coaching process reports enjoying her work more, feeling more in control, being more effective at her job, and ultimately having a greater impact.

Autonomy and Flexibility: As a self-employed coach and independent consultant, I am fortunate to be able to pick and choose the consulting projects and coaching clients I take on.

Good Fit: Coaching fits my skills, temperament, and values.  It comes naturally to me.  I love listening, being a sounding board, asking powerful questions, and helping people figure out their own best way forward.

The People: I respect, admire, and genuinely like my coaching clients.  They are smart, savvy, inspiring people who are committed to making a difference in the world, in their own way.  I feel lucky that I get to hang out with them.  I may be biased, but my clients and blog readers rock.

Happy Valentine’s Day and may you continue to chart a course toward a job — and a career — that you love!

And please share in the comments section below, do you relate to any of these things that people love about their jobs? What is missing from this list?

Photo by erin MC hammer
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Congrats on yet another great blog post, Shana! Thanks for providing such concise yet substantive content each week–in this age of information overload, this “bite-sized added value” format is greatly appreciated! And thanks for providing the opportunity to contribute to the latest blog post. Happy Valentine’s Day! =] Kat



Thanks for the comment, Kat! I’m glad you are enjoying the blog, and I appreciate your contribution. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too!


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