Skip to main content

“…but I don’t know why,” I said to my mom during our daily, post-work phone call. Earlier that day, I had met with a member of the member services department, who had asked my supervisor for my assistance on an ongoing project they hoped to complete before the fall. During our meeting, I learned the ins and outs of the project. I knew what was expected of me and how I could deliver, but I was missing one thing that I was craving to know – why was the department completing this project? I was asked to enter the demographic information for thousands of universities across the United States into the organization’s membership database, and I was more than happy to help as I had committed to helping the organization as much as I could. However, I wanted to know more. Immediately following the informational meeting, I sat down at my desk and began plugging away. College after college, my curiosity continued to grow as I wondered the organization’s end goal in acquiring this information.

Two weeks and many hand cramps at my computer later, I updated the supervisor I was working closely with on this portion of my independent project to say that I was halfway through with the data entry, and I would definitely be able to complete the project before the end of my eight weeks with the organization. Exactly one minute after I hit send on my email to inform her of my progress, she appeared at my door with the warmest smile I have ever seen and proclaimed, “I just had to come hug you, Morgan!” I was immediately embraced and thanked repeatedly for the time and energy that I had put into helping her department. After we had chatted, she stated that she would be right back as she had to tell her supervisor about the progress that I had made. I was overwhelmed by their thanks as they kindly stated that I had no idea the difference I had made and how much easier membership recruitment would be following the completion of this project. Ah! Membership recruitment! That is the why!

Weeks of wondering had passed, and I had finally gotten the answer for which I had been searching. Surprisingly, I did not find the answer as gratifying as I had once hoped. In fact, the gratification came from the personal impact that I had made. In hearing how much the department appreciated the work that I had done, I realized that I had made a meaningful difference on the work that they were doing. More importantly, however, I realized that they had made a meaningful impact on me. It was then that I realized that sometimes in life I am going to be asked to work on things and complete projects that may not make sense to me at the time, but those same tasks and projects can make a world of a difference to someone else. Through completing large scale data entry, I learned not to question, “Why am I doing this?” Rather, I should ask instead, “How can doing this make an impact on someone else?” Although I was able to make progress on my project even when I was questioning the why, I was being selfish when I should have been selfless. After all, that is why I am here.

Growing up, I always heard the phrase “it’s the little things.” In relationships and friendships, it is the little things that can often have the biggest impact. Plugging away at my computer day after day entering the demographic information of American institutions taught me that sometimes things that may seem small to me can be great for others and reminded me that, in fact, many times it is the little things…