When you are on the threshold of starting a career like we are, you may be wondering how to even begin making selections. We have all decided that we will be searching for careers that will allow us to maintain our good character and be ethical career choices. That may seem odd, but the idea is that by doing the work we have chosen, we will feel like we are making things better for those around us and also continuing to operate at the high ethical standards we have set for ourselves. A decision like this may look different for each person.

Take a store manager for example. A store manager with good character would treat everyone equally and with respect, handle the finances properly, and take excellent care of the customers, choosing the greater good of all involved over only profits. Another example could be a doctor. People feel especially vulnerable in situations like doctor visits when they’re sitting there in a paper gown or with potentially embarrassing symptoms, so as a doctor you might want to put your patient at ease instead of appearing judgmental when they come to you with a problem. It is simple things like this that can help you be better in your chosen field as well as being a better person. The two things do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Even something that may seem very clearly to have right and wrong decisions, like being a police officer or a judge, can still provide one with ethical dilemmas. The key is to evaluate each decision as it comes and not make assumptions based on your own experiences. There will always be people who do the wrong thing for the right reason and people who do the right thing for the wrong reasons. There will also be laws that you may feel are biased toward certain people or are completely unjust. You will have to decide between making decisions that are ethically right for you versus legally right. If you cannot make the two things agree, this field may not be for you.

When you are looking for a job, try to get a feel for the “corporate culture” of any prospective employer. Do they seem cutthroat? If you google them, do you see any evidence of unsavory business practices?Even companies who are supposed to be charitable organizations can be unscrupulous. The information can be hard to find, so you may want to go to the interview prepared with your own questions. Find out what the average turnover rate is. If people are typically there for only a short time, that could be a bad sign. Ask about what behaviors are rewarded (for example, do people receive rewards individually for meritorious service, or does it get pooled together? Are there incentives to work harder?) and what their policy is on slow performance.

Trying to find a job that is fulfilling, has an acceptable salary and allows you to operate in an ethical manner sounds impossible, but with some work (and maybe some luck), you should be able to head down the right path!