There’s more than one way to change the world

We are in a new age where employees don’t just want a job, they want to work for companies that support causes they believe in, are socially conscious, and give them a chance to make an impact that goes beyond their job description. Everyone wants to “change the world”, especially in startup culture where everyone is trying to “change the way people do X”. I love that people are thinking beyond themselves and trying to find ways to improve the lives of others and invest in causes that they care about.

While myriads of articles are written about startup darlings who are innovating and disrupting, what about the majority of us that work at the more “traditional” companies? What about everyone working at insurance companies, banks, accounting firms, government agencies, and any other kind of “enterprise-y” environment that doesn’t have a modern-looking space in a trendy neighborhood, free healthy food for lunch, and craft beer on tap? Some of these industries are more associated with corporate greed and corruption than social consciousness, but there are millions of people who work in those industries that have nothing to do with the mistakes made at the top. Many “socially conscious” job seekers would never even consider these companies.

I have a different view of changing the world. I certainly appreciate when companies want to make an impact on the world, but I don’t need my company to do this is order to make a difference at work. Why? Because regardless of where you work and what you do, people are probably involved.

Every day I go to work and create software that no one outside of the walls of the building will ever use. My work will never impact millions of users’ lives or change the way that the world does anything. This is because I work on internal business applications.

Meanwhile, there are a group of people that I work with that are very dependent on the software that I write. I can help them do their job, solve their problems, achieve their goals, reduce their frustrations, and feel good about coming to work every day.

There are a group of people that I work with are very dependent on what I do. They are the people on my team that are working with me to achieve a common goal, and they are counting on me to do my part of the work. We learn from each other, work together to solve problems, and we are involved in each other’s lives. We talk outside of work and we’re there for each other when life is challenging.

The people I work for are very dependent on what I do. They have careers, aspirations, goals, and plans and many of those are dependent on their team members working hard and being successful.

My ability to make an impact on the world around me is not defined by the place I work or the industry I’m in. We all have a chance to make a major impact on the lives of people we work with each and every day. But to somehow discredit companies in certain industries because they’re not #changingtheworld does a disservice to the millions of humans that work there that make an massive impact every day.

The Yelp app has over 10 million downloads on the Google Play Store. I love using Yelp to find good places to eat wherever I’m at, and it’s changed the way that I find restaurants when I’m in unfamiliar places. But these benefits are nothing compared to the difference the people I work with have made in my life while we were doing things like maintenance on internal Silverlight applications and writing data conversions.

I appreciate everyone’s desire to make an impact on the world. I am with you all on that and that’s the reason I love what I do, but my impact is not defined by my employer’s mission statement. I just hope that we all remember that we can make a difference wherever we are at, and you don’t need to be at a trendy company to do it.