Millennials: Irresponsible Job-Hoppers? Or People Guided By Passion?

by Jenny Brown

In recent months there has been a lot of talk regarding Millennials and job-hopping – some suggesting that those of us born between 1980 and 2000 are a “generation of quitters” and others saying we are simply seeking personal fulfillment.

Regardless of your opinion about the matter, I think there is something to be said for seeking happiness in our daily lives through our work environment. When we consider that the average person spends more than 40 hours of their week at work, I believe it’s important that the work they do makes them happy on some level. I may be idealistic, but life is too short to not enjoy your career, or at least find it in some way fulfilling.

But I think there is a specific part of the equation that more Millennials should consider before switching jobs, and that’s the question of “What am I passionate about?”

I’m convinced that passion plays a large role in professional success, especially in the nonprofit sector. Finding your passion likely won’t happen overnight, but you can start by reflecting on what you love - what lights your fire?

In 2006, just shortly after graduating high school, I lost my mom to lung cancer. I was shocked to see the statistics on lung cancer versus other cancers, especially the survival rates and amount of funding for research. At 18, there were so many life decisions to make, but the one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to make a difference for anyone who ever has been, or ever will be, affected by lung cancer. Although losing my mom was by far the most devastating experience in my life, I found my passion – my true calling – and began to pursue a career that would lead to personal fulfillment and a way to honor her memory.

To begin this journey, I researched organizations doing great work for lung cancer patients and their families, and most importantly, I volunteered for the ones I felt connected to. I wanted these organizations to know who I was – a passionate advocate that was truly there to help because it was personal to me. Volunteering is an essential part of finding your passion because you may discover something you love to do, even if you’re not getting paid.

After graduating college, I was still volunteering and working for a national organization, but didn’t have the sense of fulfillment I needed. It was at that time that I reached out to a nonprofit called Free to Breathe. Their mission and vision spoke to my heart, and I immediately opened the door to become a volunteer. Within a year, they had an opportunity available that was quite literally my dream job. Upon being offered a Regional Events Manager position, my manager told me that my true, sincere passion for their cause is what set me apart from other applicants. I’ve loved every minute at Free to Breathe, even when work is stressful, because I know all my hard work is making a difference in the lives of lung cancer patients and their families.

As we move into a new year, I encourage young professionals to take some time to reflect on their life’s greatest passion, and once you find it, pursue it. Trust me, you’ll experience more happiness and success than you ever dreamed possible.