“Nice guys finish last,” the saying goes—but not according to a recent study, which finds that serving others might be linked to personal and professional success.
The study, published in the Journal of Career Assessment, investigated the relationship between students’ motivation to help others and their career paths. Researchers Ryan D. Duffy and Trisha L. Raque-Bogdan measured how motivated 265 undergraduates were to serve others and found that students with greater motivation had more optimism about their career, greater ability to adapt to new tasks and working environments, and less indecision about their careers.
What’s more, their results suggest that the motivation to serve others may actually cause career optimism, not the other way around.
Duffy and Raque-Bogdan speculate that thinking about the altruistic aspects of one’s work may help young adults become more motivated and focused as they approach their careers. “It may be that viewing one’s career, in part, as a way to make a difference in society gives students added drive to meet their future career goals,” they write.
Based on their findings, the researchers recommend that people advising young adults should encourage them to think about the “pro-social” dimension to their career choices, considering how their careers can help others in addition to themselves.
“As a primary goal for many college-level career counselors is to help students make a particular career decision,” they write, “encouraging an exploration of the pro-social components of one’s career may be a fruitful process.”