There are a lot of reasons people get into youth work. It’s often pragmatic: people need jobs, and youth-serving orgs get funding from government agencies and foundations that support hiring people. It can also be opportunistic: youth work can be a convenient bridge into nonprofit careers for people who want to spend their lives helping people, and only need a place to start.
For me and many others I’ve had the privelege of knowing over the years, different from or in combination with the above reasons, this work is deeply personal. Our motivation stems from experiences we had as young people, shaping our practice, informing our politics and driving our actions as we teach, mentor, train, tutor, counsel or otherwise assist young people.
I believe it’s vital for anyone who does this work to explore their motivations for their jobs. With that understanding clearly on the table we can each individually better “choose our own adventure”, and when we’re clear with the orgs and individuals we work with we can better serve them, too!