You know how it is when you are looking for a job. You are asked to do several things like conspire how you are going to make yourself look good on paper while applying to job descriptions like “media insert and product despatch insert channel management.” You write formal letters which are supposed to follow a certain template but show “who you really are.” And in the end, you feel a bit watered down, a little overwhelmed, with trying to make sense of how you can contribute to a viable job.
Or you are like me. You are brutally honest. You admit that you want to run away from it all.
I’ve asked myself some pretty existential, but meaningful questions in the process of re-evaluating what I want to do with my career and looking for positions that I want now, like, “What the hell have I been doing for the past ten years? What were my motivations? Why am I here?”
So when Michael Hoffman from See3 communications, an interactive communications agency in Chicago that works with social causes in the nonprofit and corporate world, asked me to check out their website for the upcoming December 2oth and 21st airing of the documentary, “The Calling,” from the PBS Emmy and Peabody award winning series, Independent Lens, I jumped at the chance.
“The Calling” pushes the envelope of connecting social causes with profit by asking questions about how our careers come to terms with a larger sense of purpose. The Latin root of vocation, “vocare,” meaning to advocate, evoke, invoke, convoke, I think best describes what this documentary seems to be about.
It follows the lives of seven young people whose sense of vocation springs from diverse faith traditions, like Muslim, Jewish, and various Christian denominations. Their “calling” is to be leaders in their religious communities. Their challenge is defining and developing what my dad’s organization (a shout out to my dad), ECM, in Lawrence, Kansas, defines as “where your skills and passions meet the world’s need.”
The documentary goes beyond a look at American religious experiences and religious vocation alone. What I think it illustrates is Millenials’ desire (and those who are at the cusp of the millennial generation, like me) to have a job that is meaningful.
For me, reflecting on my “calling,” I’ve asked the question, “What’s the purpose of this anyway?”
I’ve come up with a few practical (and not so practical) parts of vocation that hopefully I can refer to when I’m trying to describe myself using bullet points on another cover letter. I thought it would be ironic to list them in bullet points too. So here it goes:
– I want to help build relationships, which works well when you know how to tell a good story .
– I want people to believe in me. Even though I lack corporate experience using big budget marketing strategies, doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to be innovative when engaging various audiences in other contexts.
– I want a job that has meaning to me, but I don’t want to be paid less than I reasonably feel that I am worth in the job market. Chicago’s rent might be better than in other major cities, but it would be nice to not worry about it so much.
– I want to work with people who I can learn from. But I also want to work with people who value my contributions and what I’ve done so far in my professional life. As my friends know, I’m not meant to work by myself like I do now. It’s going to drive me crazy.
– I want to work alongside other people who are enthusiastic about their jobs and who understand a work/life balance.
– I want to work in a capacity that I am proud to be doing.
If you wanna watch “The Calling” with me December 20th and 21st, you’ll have to invite me over to your house. I don’t have a digital box until Santa comes to town.