Making a Difference: Pursuing a Career in Helping Others

In a world riddled with social, environmental and economic challenges, an increasing number of graduates are turning to careers which they believe will help them make a positive impact on the lives of others. Depending on your area of interest, getting into a job like this doesn’t need to be overly difficult, but it’s important to begin your preparations with open eyes.


Counselors deal with a wide variety of challenges on a daily basis, spanning from psychological trauma to substance abuse. For this reason, it’s important for those pursuing a career as a counselor to receive a variety of training. Courses covering common issues like drug and alcohol usage, basic psychology, and coping strategies for trauma may prove very helpful, but it’s important to remember that careers in this sphere also require a particular type of personality – equal amounts of patience and empathy will serve you well.


Medical professions are amongst the most obvious examples of people-focussed careers, and also known for upholding some of the toughest entry requirements, depending on your area of interest. If you’re set on becoming a GP or a specialist, you’re looking at up to ten years of university education. That being said, there is always a need for more hands on deck in areas like nursing. If you don’t mind a bit of paperwork, and you enjoy interacting with others face to face, nursing could be a very rewarding career. The study requirements are far less intensive, often involving a few years of practical study in a hospital environment.

Emergency services

Careers in the police force, the ambulance service, or the fire department aren’t for the faint of heart, but if you’re passionate about saving lives, the front line could be a great place for you. A good level of physical fitness is important, as these jobs are full of highs and lows, as well as periods filled with intense physical activity. That being said, there are a variety of opportunities within each emergency service department. For example, all emergency services need medical dispatchers to answer urgent calls and choose an appropriate course of action for each, a very rewarding job if you can make quick decisions under pressure.


If you love the idea of working with young people and inspiring the next generation, a teaching position could be a great fit for you. Opportunities for great teachers exist in primary school, secondary school, and even university, giving you great scope for future growth and development. Teachers are also sought-after overseas, meaning you may have the opportunity to experience other cultures through your career – that is if you don’t find it too difficult to leave. Many teachers spend their entire career at the same school, watching generations of children grow up and begin their lives.


It may not come easily to mind when you consider career options, but activism is another avenue with the potential to generate fulfilling full-time work. If you’re particularly passionate about an issue, chances are you’ll be able to find an organisation full of others who share that passion. These organisations might include charities (ideally one which pays), research organisations, or even publications which generate awareness and action around pressing issues. Money, research, and awareness are all hugely valuable commodities in just about any industry, but when it comes to saving the environment, shifting a social stigma, or helping those in need, they can be life-changing.


It may be true that politics gets a bad wrap, known to many as a “dirty business”, but it’s also true that an influential politician can have a huge impact upon the lives of many. Politics could afford you the opportunity to directly impact communities, states, or countries. If you feel strongly about current political issues – for example, laws governing immigration, reproductive health, human rights, or even public transport – a career in politics could give you the platform to make a real difference.

Social Care

For those who love the idea of a career spent helping others in a wide variety of ways, social care is a great option. Carers can work with everyone from young children to elderly people and create real changes in the lives of their patients, whether through physical, mental, or emotional support. A career in social care can also lead to a web of other pathways, including patient advocacy, occupational therapy, and many other branches of the healthcare system.