By Jenalyn Camagong
In one of my classes, we discussed about the differences between internal and external drive including the importance of balance between the two. After class, I continued to meditate on the subject and the topic stayed in my mind for quite sometime. It bothered me a lot because I want to make sure that I had good intentions and reasons going into this field. It made me think deeply of why I am doing what I am doing right now in both my educational career and my job. Why am I going into Social Work? What is that driving force that keeps me going? What decisions brought me here today? Before I get too deep into reflection, I would like to explain briefly about internal and external drives.
Joe McCarthy (2007) wrote his blog titled Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivations: Doing the Right Things for the Right Reasons. In this blog, he references Yochai Benkler and in his book titled Wealth of Networks where Benkler (2006) defines intrinsic motivation as “...reasons for action that come from within the person, such as pleasure or personal satisfaction.” Benkler (2006) also defines extrinsic motivations as influences by other things or other people, he goes on with examples such a money or recognition from a boss. Reading McCarthy’s blog reminded me of myself. McCarthy (2007) said “My desire to please others often overrides my desire to please myself [...],” which he admits is a character flaw. When I read that, I understood exactly how he felt.
Growing up, my parents always stressed the importance of education “... so that [ I ] can have a good future.” My parents were farmers and immigrants from the Philippines. My mom had a college degree but she had a degree in something she was not passionate about because her family didn’t have enough money to pay for the degree she wanted to attain. My father discontinued his education at a young age not by choice but because he had take care of his siblings. From their stories, I understood why education was so important to them. During my high school years, they would mention about relatives who were in the health field. From my understanding I thought they were hinting that the health field would be a good place for me to go into.
I convinced myself that nursing would be a good career to get into since I love science, it was a bachelor’s degree so it wasn’t too much education, there is job security, and the pay is great. I wanted to make my parents proud of me. This was the problem, I wanted to please my parents and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Similar to what McCarthy mentioned, pleasing others took over in the want to please myself. But luckily I recognized what I was doing.
During my undergrad, as I was taking pre-requisites into the nursing program. Before turning my application, I asked myself “who am I doing this for?” I realized that my motivation to get into this career was driven my by external factors such as the pay, length of education, and mostly to make my parent’s happy. There was more extrinsic than intrinsic reasons. I didn’t turn in my application to the nursing program. I talked to a career counselor in numerous sessions and I took two different test called the Myers Briggs Test and the Strong Interest Inventory. Psychology popped up numerous times and so I took a few psychology classes and I fell in love with learning about the human mind and behavior. I had this desire to get into counseling. One of professors in my undergrad got his PhD in Social Work, he told me that with a social work degree, I could do both social work and therapy. The fact that there are so much opportunities in the social work field, appealed to me. I told my parents about my decision and to my surprise they didn’t intend to influence my career choice and was happy that I found my passion.
Here I am getting my Master’s Degree in Social Work. I recently got a job working with residentially challenged individuals. I absolutely love what I do! I see clients starting fresh as they take care of their criminal citations, hearing from them as they get sheltered, housed, and/or a job gives me that rewarding feeling at the end of the day. Money is necessary to make a living and my parents said they are proud of me but majority of my driving force comes from my passion to help those in our community.
Benkler, Y. (2006). The wealth of networks. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
J. McCarthy. (2007, February 7). Gumption: Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivations: Doing the
right things for the right reasons. Retrieved from