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Ariely spoke of an experiment that showed people’s reluctance to continue a task if the work was later destroyed or if the reward was less value. This idea resonates with me because I also prefer to have a tangible product as a result of my hard work. It gives me more motivation and drive when I am able to see the outcome.


I feel good about my schoolwork when I receive affirmation from my professors, whether through comments or a letter grade. However, it is a shorter satisfaction because the value of a grade ends at the end of the semester when I have no impact on the final score. After that, I am left wondering how I was so stressed and so focused on something that has no impact on me today. A letter grade is a dead thing that sits in a little column on a transcript. A letter grade is a passive measurement of intelligence in a country where we like to measure ourselves against each other according to one group’s idea of success.


For my work with DukeEngage, I feel satisfied when my work makes an impact and is usable. When I contribute is when I feel productive. When it comes to my job, I feel good when I am passionate about the mission. My work with DukeEngage feels more meaningful because my work lives in the real world. At school, we complete assignments and projects for that work to be deleted off our laptops or recycled in a bin at the end of the semester. The work that we do for school does not live. However, the work for an organization with a mission and a purpose lives and grows beyond the people who intern or work there.