“We have more freedom now to choose our careers than at any point in history”

Why following your passion isn’t the best advice and why you’re better off finding working that’s engaging:

What we’ve found is that the best predictors of job satisfaction are features of the job itself, rather than matters of pre-existing passion. Research shows that what you should be looking for is work that is engaging: find that, and you’re likely to develop long-lasting passion for that work.

Engaging work can be broken down into five factors:

  1. Independence: How much control do you have over how you go about your work?
  2. Sense of completion: How much does the job involve completing whole pieces of work so that your contribution to the end product is easily visible?
  3. Variety: How far does the job require you to perform a range of different activities, using different skills and talents?
  4. Feedback from the job: How easy is it to know whether you’re performing well or poorly?
  5. Contribution: How much does your work “make a difference,” improving the well-being of other people?

Each of these factors also contributes to motivation, productivity, and commitment to your employer. Other factors that also contribute to job satisfaction include whether you get a sense of achievement from the work, how much support you get from your colleagues, and “hygiene” factors, such as not having unfair pay or a very long commute. You’ll notice, none of these have much to do with whether the work involves one of your “passions.”

Source: The Many, Many Problems With “Follow Your Passion” – 99U

“America has a shortage of job creators”

Here’s an interesting perspective on education and entrepreneurship, but Michael Ellsberg’s point about start-ups vs. small businesses is worth noting:

America has a shortage of job creators. And the people who create jobs aren’t traditional professionals, but start-up entrepreneurs.

In a recent speech promoting a jobs bill, President Obama told Congress, “Everyone here knows that small businesses are where most new jobs begin.”

Close, but not quite. In a detailed analysis, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that nearly all net job creation in America comes from start-up businesses, not small businesses per se. (Since most start-ups start small, we tend to conflate two variables — the size of a business and its age — and incorrectly assume the former was the relevant one, when in fact the latter is.)

If start-up activity is the true engine of job creation in America, one thing is clear: our current educational system is acting as the brakes. Simply put, from kindergarten through undergraduate and grad school, you learn very few skills or attitudes that would ever help you start a business. Skills like sales, networking, creativity and comfort with failure.

Source: Will Dropouts Save America? – The New York Times