The Greater Good: A Career Priority for Canadian Students

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on July 7, 2010

Canadians are super nice, eh? Here’s some proof.

Undergraduates from Canada are the most concerned with serving a greater good in their careers, according to a recent survey by Universum, an employer branding company.

Universum asked 300,000 university students from 25 countries worldwide to select up to three of their most important career goals from nine possible choices. In only five out of the 25 countries or regions, did the given option — to be dedicated to a cause or to serve a greater good — make students’ top three career aspirations. Americans trailed the Canadians, followed by the Irish, Danish and Portuguese, in that order.

And the students that consider serving a “greater good” least important? That would be the Russians in the No. 5 spot, followed by the Dutch, Italians, Indians and, and at No. 1 (or dead last, depending on your point of view) the Germans. With the exception of the Irish, Danish and Portuguese, based on Universum’s research, European students are the most egocentric.

The survey's career goal question is based on research by Edgar Schein, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Schien, an expert on organizational theory and career dynamics, published a book in 1985 called Career Anchors. It was designed to help people understand what they value most and use that knowledge to make better career choices. The career anchors Schien listed serve as the model for the nine career goals students could choose from.

The nine career goal options are:
1. To be a technical or functional expert
2. To be a leader or manager of people
3. To be autonomous or independent
4. To be secure or stable in my job
5. To be entrepreneurial or creative/innovative
6. To be dedicated to a cause or feel that I am serving a greater good
7. To be competitively or intellectually challenged
8. To have work/life balance
9. To have an international career

Universum first compared how attractive each alternative is within a country, and then based on the popularity of each goal on a national level made a global comparison between the 25 countries. The nine goals were weighted in each country based on the average number of chosen alternatives so that the number of respondents within each country did not influence the rankings.

American students were the most responsive, with nearly 60,000 undergraduate respondents. Poland was next with more than 17,000 respondents, Sweden with more than 16,000 and the UK with more than 11,000 respondents.

-By Sommer Saadi

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