Sample Scholarship Essay: My Three Pillars of Job Satisfaction by Joyce Solemerano from the University of British Columbia, Canada.
What do you do if you find yourself in your final year of university and you realize that you have been so devoted to your studies that you have no substantial experience out in the real world to go along with your precious university degree? That is the situation I found myself in when I was about to graduate from university at the ripe age of 21 which is why I decided to go out on my own and teach in South Korea for a few years. Though I originally planned to simply gain some personal independence and real life experience, I picked up some meaningful, career-specific lessons that showed me what true job satisfaction entails. Before I share these lessons with you in the form of three pillars, I’d like to relay that although I truly believe in these ideals for myself, I do not wish to enforce them on anyone because I believe that only you can define what will sincerely make you happy. By simply demonstrating what I have learned in my own personal experiences, I hope to inspire you to venture out in a similar fashion and discover what is right for you. My first pillar of job satisfaction is working with people who are collaborative.
During my time in Korea, I worked in various settings: thriving private schools, a poorer public school, and schools that were just starting out. I found it was much easier to adapt to unfavourable work conditions than to have to be part of a staff that doesn’t mesh well. After witnessing a few financial rough patches that my workplaces went through, I realized that no matter what the circumstances, I could still come to work with a smile on my face, especially when I have like-minded, optimistic people around who are ready to cope with the challenges together. This is what I was blessed with at one of my workplaces in Korea, and what unified us was our desire to protect the students from being greatly affected by the problems at hand–in some instances we even managed to solve the problems before they surfaced!
For instance, our school had only one, small-scale basketball court to offer to 19 different classes for their PE and recess time. Instead of sitting around complaining about it, we worked out a schedule that allowed everyone to have access on alternate days and we brainstormed activities for the classes to do on the days when it wasn’t their turn. Since we as a whole decided to work on this, sharing the gym seemed natural to the students who even came to appreciate their time in the gym more, knowing that it was a privilege shared by all. Even the administrators pitched in whenever it was possible. They offered to personally assist us in class or even relieve us of some of our duties from time to time if we were getting overwhelmed. They often encouraged us to meet with them and we had regular, productive meetings that put initiatives into action right away.
Since the administration was so keen to support us, we were also inspired to step up if other teachers were sick or if they simply needed a helper for a particular activity. Again, the students were aware of us all working in concert–imagine showing up to recess and seeing your principal there instead of the teacher who is normally on duty–and the students came to admire the administrators so much for being present in their regular routines that they made a conscious effort not to have to see them under negative circumstances (that is, being sent to the office for punitive measures). Choosing to problem-solve together instead of wallowing in pity is always more enjoyable, though it may take a little more time and effort to do so. If I had to choose between working at a high-tech facility or joining a cooperative team that is willing to put in that extra effort, I would without a doubt choose the latter since a supportive and healthy social environment is more important to me.
My second pillar of job satisfaction is with regards to management: it is vital for me to work for an organization that shares the same ideals as me or holds principles that I can respect. After dabbling in various scholastic environments and learning of how disparate their objectives can be, I have learned that I myself thrive in the environment that distinctly places the students’ best interest above everything else. One might think that all schools naturally adhere to this principle since the very nature of a school is to cater to its students, but I have seen firsthand that inspite of that, there are some cases where the school board, alumni, or parents may have overstepped boundaries. I have learned that even in developed countries there are private schools that place more emphasis on the business aspect of the institution; and there are public schools that are satisfied with moving their large masses of students through the program, meeting minimalistic standards. I even came across a private institution that tried to introduce a policy of only hiring ‘real westerners’ with white skin and blond hair, which turned out to be quite a common practice in Korea despite how controversial it may be!
Undoubtedly, that school experienced a sharp descent, and had the student’s quality of education been the top priority, they would have avoided such a failure to begin with. I will never forget the injustices I experienced for not being considered a ‘real westerner’ even though I was born and raised in Canada, but instead of allowing that to discourage me, I made a vow to try to educate people in global awareness and promote respect for diversity. Although my good intentions and my faith in people might not have an effect on everyone, it is at least in my own power to remove myself from unethical situations and do what I can to find morally-sound work environments where my integrity can be put to better use. In addition to seeking a workplace that is virtuous, I also wish to work in an environment that offers diverse opportunities to its community–which stands as my last pillar of job satisfaction. What I love about the teaching profession is that there are several professional development opportunities for educators to continuously hone their skills and evolve along with the generations of the students that they teach. I thoroughly enjoy learning of new teaching tools and techniques in order to provide students with more enriching educational experiences. I also value interactions with long-time teachers who provide insight on traditional teaching methods that have stood the test of time.
Additionally, schools offer teachers several chances to interact with students through extracurricular activities, field trips, special events, and themed workshops. Having some time together outside of the classroom helps teachers form positive bonds with their students and gives them more opportunities to teach the students about their social responsibilities in various settings. These activities also contribute to everyone’s mental health by offering some dynamic experiences that improve our quality of life. Parents can also get involved in order to spend more quality time with their own children in addition to lending a helping hand or offering their expertise from their own walks of life. In these ways and in many other forms, schools can serve the purpose of strengthening the community; and knowing that I can actively participate in that with my chosen career path makes my job meaningful to me.
This is only the beginning of my promising career in education so I will inevitably continue to develop my ideals as I move forward, but I am delighted at the thought of doing so as a full-fledged teacher someday. I wish to become a teacher who works with others who also feel compelled to guide the next generation as they take the world into their own hands. I am certain that I will find fulfillment in my teaching career since my passion in life has always been bound to education, and as for you, I hope that you also find a career that puts a spring in your step and brings you joy in your everyday life!