Making Good: How Young People Cope with Moral Dilemmas at Work
You’re young, ambitious, entering the field of your dreams; you’re on your own, the competition is fierce – and then you see your chance: the big story, the big role, the big discovery. But you’ll have to cut a few corners, bend the rules, cheat a bit. What choices will you make? After studying more than a hundred young people launching their careers, these longtime researchers of “good work”- work that is both skillful and honorable—find unsettling answers. Although young workers know what it takes to do good work, they don’t always feel they can follow the ethical route. “Later, when I’m successful,” is their implicit promise. Making Good explores the choices confronting young workers who join the ranks of three dynamic professions—journalism, science, and acting and looks at how the novices navigate moral dilemmas posed by a demanding, frequently lonely, professional life. The authors also uncover striking comparisons between these young professionals and the veterans in their fields -most notably, older workers recall inspiring models and mentors, while today’s beginners see themselves as on their own. With extensive insights into how young workers view their respective domains, the nature of their ambitions, the sacrifices they are willing to make, and the lines they are prepared to cross, this study will prove instructive to young employees and employers alike, as well as to those who wish to understand the shifting moral and social character of the working world.
Wendy Fischman, Becca Solomon, and Deborah Greenspan are researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; Howard Gardner is Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education.