Meaningful Work? ...the Transition is Waiting!

I recently Googled the term “Make a Difference,” and found a host of inspiring stories and blogs about great charitable work and helping others. The spirit of community and giving is surely alive and well. In a recent seminar I attended, the speaker told us that volunteerism is experiencing record numbers and groups like AmeriCorps, City Year and the Peace Corps are turning people away. This is great, but whatever happened to the idea of “Making a Difference” to the "for profit" workplace.

It seems that the last two years of layoffs, furloughs, canceled bonuses, and the like has beaten us into submission as a national workforce. Have we given up hope that a career, job or opportunity actually exists that will inspire us to go the extra mile because we’re passionate about what the company does? Have the pressures of doing more with less caused most managers to forget to congratulate the goals met, or more importantly to cheer on the progress made? Have they looked on their workers as being fortunate to still have a job and a paycheck as reward enough? Based on a survey by the Conference Board and other organizations that track such things, most workers are really unhappy with their jobs and the direction of their careers. (study found that only 45% said they were satisfied with the job they had – wow!).

I am here to tell anyone that will listen that this can change. The biggest thing that stands out is that most workers don’t feel that they are doing worthwhile work. Many merely work for a paycheck and count the minutes until they’re not working. If you don’t like your job, it’s time to do something about it!

I don’t want to curb the interest in volunteering, but wouldn’t it be great if you could Make Difference at work too? There is just such an industry with double the job growth of any other, located in every state in the country, and they’re looking for the most talented to join them in their cause.

Clean Energy Technology (Green Job is so yesterday…) is made up of more industry segments than you can remember – and they all offer meaningful work that will make anyone feel like they are contributing to something greater than themselves. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Aside from curing disease, there are not many more worthwhile careers a person could pursue. Making the Transition from fossil fuel based energy to renewing clean sources of energy is one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime. (CA voters recognized this by voting Yes for Clean Tech when they voted down Prop 23 last week...).

Leaving Climate Change aside for a moment, there are a few facts that should get people excited about the “mission” to make a Transition to homegrown Clean Energy Technology. First, we are sending our hard earned wealth overseas to pay for oil to the tune of almost a $1 Trillion each year – and this money goes to countries that want us to fail. As Americans, we must change this. Second, oil suppliers tell us that at the rate that China and India are growing that they won’t be able to provide both them and the current addicted users (us) with oil. Third, the world is expected to add two billion more people in the next few decades and they’ll want a car, a flat screen TV and an air conditioner too, and we don’t have enough oil to fuel that (there hasn’t been a “major” oil find on the planet since 1964, and you can be sure that the oil companies have looked). Now throw in expected changes in climate such as desertification, rising ocean levels, flooding, and increased ferocity and occurrence of extreme weather – well you get the picture…this is pretty important!

So if we don’t want to be battling the rest of the world for the last drop of oil or be a Road Warrior like Mad Max in the near future, we really need other solutions. The great part is that in every state people are working toward solutions. Companies in Solar, Wind, Biofuels, Transportation, Smart Grid, Building, Energy Efficiency, Geothermal and many areas that would surprise you have emerged to tackle the problem. What are needed are people to continue innovating, scaling up solutions and getting them adopted to further the Energy Transition. Can there really be anything more important to our future day to day lives?

The largest growth of job creation in the United States in the last two years has been in Clean Energy Technology. In all cases these companies have needed to find the most talented people in many areas (engineering, business development, sales, IT, etc.), but due to economic uncertainties many of the most talented have sat on the sidelines with a wait and see mentality. This will change as the economy improves, but with continued industry growth finding people for these jobs will also make the struggle for the most talented more acute. What this means is that there is ample opportunity for anyone to make the leap to a Clean Energy Technology career – today and in the near future.

Many of these companies would grow even faster if they had access to a Community of highly talented people that are interested in learning more about them and sharing what they can do and what makes them tick. Most people get hired based on their “inner chemistry” and their mental acuity. Desire, motivation, and likeability are the key factors once it is established that a person has the functional skill needed to do the work. If there was a Community where a person could demonstrate this it would certainly make the potential for success greater and much more rewarding.

On the flip side, most workers contemplating a change to a new company experience the most anxiety from not truly knowing whether they will fit in or not. Functional ability is one thing, but meeting expectations or not understanding what management considers a good job is scary. Of course, considering you’ll spend 70% of your weekday time at this new company, you also want to know if the people will accept you and work well with you. These are the challenges that need to be overcome to get the most talented people to consider and make a career transition in support of our society's energy transition challenge.

There are resources available that are dedicated to solving these career transition challenges, and to introduce those entering the workforce to consider Clean Energy Technology as a meaningful career or opportunity for work (see the addendum to the end of this article).

Knowing that the work you do is driving solutions for a rewarding present and future is just about the most meaningful that work imaginaeable…when you have this driving your efforts, the work begins to seem not like work at all. When this happens you know that you’ve finally found your niche in the world.

Clean Journey

A company formed to catalyze and build Communities of talented people for Socially Responsible and Clean Energy Technology companies. With the goal of boosting the relationships between these companies and their future employees, Clean Journey is dedicated toward providing people with the information to make better career decisions and finding work that is meaningful to them. By connecting companies to the talented people that best fit their mission, we strive to help them build a Sustainable Workforce that will help successfully grow their business for years to isn’t only for lovers!

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