News media coverage tells the compelling story of Purposeful Work at Bates College
Attracted by its innovative approach to helping students find work that delivers deep personal meaning and the promise of professional success, news media outlets are telling the compelling story of the Purposeful Work program at Bates College.
A story in The Christian Science Monitor says that Bates is leading the way in responding to the challenges facing liberal arts colleges.
Bates’ response, Purposeful Work, focuses on helping students explore career aspirations in ways that feel personally meaningful and also lead to career success.
Lee’s Purposeful Work experience, including summer funding, has successfully helped him discover what he’s interested in
At Bates, Purposeful Work includes significant investment in internships. James Lee ’19, a biochemistry major from Brooklyn, N.Y., has twice received summer funding through Purposeful Work to further his work interests, specifically to find work that will feel meaningful to him.
The story noted that Lee’s Purposeful Work experience, including summer funding, has successfully helped him discover what he’s interested in: the business and industry sides of the medical field, rather than research.
“When I work in industry, I can see where the research is being applied,” he says. “Sometimes when you’re working in a lab, it’s very easy to lose track of what the bigger picture is. But when you’re working on the front lines, all of the research that you’re doing is applicable.”
How colleges help students find purpose in their work — The Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept. 2, 2018
A major feature story in The Chronicle of Higher Education on Sept. 2, 2018, concludes that Purposeful Work helps students “clarify the connections between classroom and career” while preparing them “for lives of meaningful work.”
Purposeful Work stands apart for how it “blends the philosophical and the pragmatic.”
Purposeful Work is particularly valuable because it helps to “increase graduates’ confidence that they can succeed in an increasingly technical work force, and to dispel parents’ and policy makers’ doubts about the returns on an expensive liberal-arts degree.”
While many colleges are launching similar programs, Purposeful Work stands apart for how it “blends the philosophical and the pragmatic, offering students both concrete skills and an overarching theory of work: namely, that it ought to have both personal meaning and societal relevance.”
One college finally designed a liberal arts education fit for the future of work — Quartz, April 29, 2018
A feature story in Quartz on April 29, 2018, looks at the link between work and happiness, and how Purposeful Work helps students build the latter by finding the former.
With happiness and well-being a challenge to come by in today’s society, Quartz notes, it’s no wonder that many colleges are doubling down on how best to prepare students to find post-graduation happiness.
Bates teaches students “how to figure out the work they want to do” in their work lives — a “key factor in creating happiness.”
The brilliance of what’s happening at Bates under President Clayton Spencer, explains reporter Jenny Anderson, is that it focuses on work.
“If you get love and work right,” Spencer tells Anderson, paraphrasing Sigmund Freud, “you’ve sort of figured it all out.”
In other words, writes Anderson, Bates isn’t just trying to “teach kids how to be happy.” Instead, through Purposeful Work, Bates teaches students “how to figure out the work they want to do” in their work lives — a “key factor in creating happiness.”
Maine Public’s Maine Calling welcomed a Bates panel to share ideas and insights into the college’s Purposeful Work program.
President Clayton Spencer, Lecturer in Psychology Rebecca Fraser-Thill, and Reed Mszar ’18 talked about how Bates’ Purposeful Work program helps students find what gives them purpose. From their discussion, here are 12 insights about how a sense of purpose in your work helps create well-being in life.
A sense of purpose in one’s work is a powerful force for life satisfaction.
For one, a sense of purpose and well-being in one’s work is a powerful force for life satisfaction. “When people have that purpose or career well-being, that predicts all the others,” Fraser-Thill said.
“If we’re liking what we do every day and we’re doing things we’re good at, we’re more likely to be healthy and have great relationships and feel part of our community and have money.”
Boston public radio station WGBH-FM profiled Purposeful Work, a signature Bates program that helps students discover work that aligns with their interests and values.
“We recognize that liberal arts students can do anything.”
The story quoted Peter Bysshe ’93, a Brooklyn-based brand consultant who teaches Practitioner-Taught Courses.
Offered during Short Term as part of the Purposeful Work program, the courses allow students to explore more practical and applied areas of study outside the traditional core liberal arts curriculum.
“We recognize that liberal arts students can do anything,” he said. “We have them do real things so they can feel what it’s like, so it’s not just rhetoric anymore.”
On Dec. 11, 2017, a feature story in MaineBiz praised the college’s Purposeful Work initiative for “helping students discover how ‘work’ — the activity that will fill most of their adult hours — goes far beyond simply collecting a paycheck.”
The story explained how the program weaves questions about work, identity, and purpose into the college’s curriculum and co-curricular programs.
“There is a very natural interest in the program” among donors, said President Spencer.
Funded internships in Maine and worldwide are a strong part of program’s fabric. The story pointed to support from the Portland-based Libra Foundation, whose $250,000 grant to the Bates Campaign will fund more than a dozen annual internships in Maine alone in the coming years.
The program is “looking at the bridge between college and the rest of each student’s life. So there is a very natural interest in the program” among donors, said President Spencer.