Professor Amy Wrzesniewski is an expert in how we experience work. She has found, for example, that people tend to see their work in one of three ways: as a job, a means to make a living; a career, a way to gain advancement and prestige; or a calling, a source of personal fulfillment and a way to do something valuable.
These insights are of particular relevance to Wrzesniewski’s MBA students, who are making decisions that will shape the rest of their careers.
“This kind of content is offered to help students see what psychology, sociology, economics can teach them about the kinds of decisions that they have awaiting them in the long term, over the course of their whole lives,” she says.
During the two years of an MBA program, students are often focused on finding and preparing for their next job, she notes. “They tend to be focused very much on the short term and on building skills, on populating a tool kit around different frameworks that they feel that they need to learn. I get to use hard data and evidence from research that is quite firm and replicated to shake up their thinking.”
Stopping to think about what they want out of their entire careers will often make a difference in students’ decisions, she says. “Students will reorient the path that they had planned to travel on the basis of having to think about some of these deeper questions.”