What's Your Jam? When the Things You Learn Connect Your Skills and Passion

Posted by Janelle Bechdol

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Earlier this month, I attended a really large meeting of about 2,400 young people at the International Intern Leadership Conference, hosted by Ernst & Young. I was asked to speak to these Gen Yers who were about to embark on a career in financial services about my work in education.

Along with working as EY's education manager for their corporate responsibility team, I'm also the co-founder of The Hall Pass Tour, an event and concert series that started in 2011 with the goal of helping middle and high school students from underserved communities get excited about leveraging higher learning to pursue their dreams. I'm the headlining singer on the tour, so my business partner and I frequently get asked to speak to people about our journey, and the importance of higher learning. But instead of talking about higher education specifically, the conference organizers wanted me to discuss how I'm doing my part to build a better working world.

At first, I considered a basic story I could tell them about my work, but as I thought about my journey over the past 18 months, the development of the tour, and where I'm headed personally, I realized I needed to do more than that. I used our Hall Pass Tour simple recipe for "finding your jam."

Jam Exhibit A:

ur.jam

Your jam is where your natural skills meet your passion [skills x passion = happy]. Seems easy, right? Not really. When I asked 2,400 interns, "Who has their jam?" at the age of 23, a mere 10 or so raised their hands. To be fair, I didn’t have my jam at 23-years-old, either. But it got me thinking: this is something we should ALL be talking about more.

In our Hall Pass Tour Backstage Pass Workshop, we challenge kids to first think through their "jam," and then leverage each other to carve out a path where higher learning can help them get there.

THAT makes sense, right? The things you learn should feed the end goal of your desires. Right.

I realized in all of this, I'm no different from our Hall Pass Tour workshoppers. As an "edupreneur," I'm new to this space. I need to learn more about the landscape of education so I can better serve it. So here I am, going back to school this fall to Harvard's Graduate School of Education to do just that. I got stuff to learn, man. It's all so I can get the knowledge I need in order to become better at what I do. Simple as that.

I invite all of you to join me on this wild and crazy journey, follow my adventures here on GOOD, or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@JanelleBechdol), and send me suggestions of things and people I should be learning about and connecting with so that I'm more effective.  

But more than sharing the journey, I invite you to find your jam. It'll change how and what you learn. You owe it to yourself. Jam on.

Click here to add going back to school to learn something you've always wanted to your GOOD "to-do" list.

Images via Janelle Bechdol