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Discover Your Purpose

Finding career satisfaction is more complex than simply identifying a major and an occupation. Have you wondered what is the “right” major for you, or if what you’re studying will lead to a satisfying career? Is the career you have in mind going to be fulfilling?


For all students, there is a strong pressure to select courses, declare a major, study hard, and get good grades. This focus on academics can be all-consuming and prevent you from realizing that you will only be at Rutgers for a few years and that all this studying is preparing you for what you will do after you graduate – the purpose behind all this learning. Identifying your purpose early can lead to greater career satisfaction and even better academic performance (i.e., knowing the reason or long-term goal behind why you’re studying so hard can enhance your enjoyment of your courses and motivate you to do better).

As Rutgers graduates, you will soon be called upon to contribute solutions and lead in a world filled with economic, political, social and technological challenges. Rather than simply declaring a major, it is more important to declare missions. The intention is that students connect their academic pursuits with a purpose that fuels it. Consider the following examples:

  • “I’m a Biology major” can be replaced by “I’m learning human biology to eliminate world hunger.” 
  • “I’m learning Computer Science and Political Science to rebuild how citizens engage with their governments.”

The ultimate goal behind purpose learning is to help you select a meaningful course of study while at Rutgers, and then start building a framework that maps out the first 10 - 15 years of your professional life. It isn’t so much about the career trajectory, but the reasons behind it.


One way to connect meaning or “the why” to your studies and actions is to consider the phrase “what’s your verb?” You may even want to start asking your peers this question. It is a more focused question that incorporates “how are you doing today,” “what classes are you taking this quarter” and “why?”

Your purpose should be impactful. Your verb could be “To Ignite.” “To Build.” “To Challenge.” “To Persuade.” As with personal branding, this verb can be the focusing principle behind your portfolio of work, your resume, your conversations with employers or graduate schools, and so on. When speaking with professors and employers, it is important that you communicate clarity of purpose, what experiences you have creating impact, and how you are developing mastery of subject matter by putting it into practice.


Developing a purpose for your learning requires putting what you’re learning into practice. At the Center for Career Exploration and Success, we help students find opportunities (both domestic and global) to tackle challenges, complete projects, and gain professional experience through immersion.

With this opportunity to engage in purpose-driven learning while still earning credit, you can spend a semester or longer engaging in an experiential education opportunity. You can begin applying what you’re studying immediately to challenges you care about. When you return from your experiences, you can delve into your coursework at a deeper level, having a better understanding of the realities of the field you’re interested in and what you need to learn in your major to advance your mission.


With a purpose learning mindset, Rutgers graduates end up accelerating their personal sense of meaning and their outward global impact. Alumni, reflecting on their Rutgers experience, have told us how establishing their personal missions as undergraduate students acted as a compass while they charted their path beyond college.

You, too, can successfully make contributions to an endless list of issues, such as poverty, health, infrastructure, renewable energy, global governance, space travel, artistic and cultural achievement, etc. Start thinking about the purpose of your learning, and come see us if you need help figuring this out!