Pay - It's not the end all, be all
Updated: Feb 19
You’re in your senior year, and your friends start getting job offers. It’s not spoken word, but in your head, you’re thinking about how much money they’re making and if it’s more than you. Will they be able to afford nicer apartments than you? Will they be able to buy more stuff than you? Can they go out more? Who has the better title? On top of that, you’re worried that your job won’t amount to what theirs are, and that their jobs are more praiseworthy than yours.
You probably would never admit to these thoughts (neither would I have when I was in school). Although we’d never admit to them, these thoughts cross all of our minds some time or another when we’re in college on the job hunt.
In the long-run, pay does not matter. You may not think that now, but I’m telling you it doesn’t.
It certainly can make things easier because it provides you more flexibility with your income, but don’t be fooled. The good pay only makes things easier in the beginning. It makes things much tougher as you progress in your career.
For example, upon graduation, you accepted a job that pays you $55k a year because it was the highest paying one out of all the others you applied to. You work there for a year, and they give you a raise of $6k bringing you to $61k a year. You end up being there for a little over a year and then begin to get the “itch” (what I like to call it). You don’t love what you’re doing, you want to try something new, and explore other options. You realize the jobs you actually are interested in applying to all are lower paying jobs than what you currently have (tends to happen in jobs you actually are interested in doing) and because you don't have a ton of experience, you apply to entry-level roles. Instead of leaving, you’re less inclined to take a pay cut and leave the job you’re unhappy with, so you continue to do what you’re doing. The money continues to come-in, but does that matter at this point? You're miserable, and with time, it only gets worse.
As cliche as this sounds, happiness is what matters and self-fulfillment. Are you being fulfilled with what you’re doing? For me, being fulfilled means having purpose and making a positive impact. Fulfillment is different for everyone. Some people are fulfilled by helping others, and others might be fulfilled by growing something themselves.
You might be questioning the title of this post, and ask yourself why the heck is the title of this post is “Don’t listen to your parents.” I’ll tell you. I won’t generalize and say parents always want the best for their kids, but I’ll safely say many parents want the best for their kids. In my case, my parents wanted me to be better-off than they were. My dad, who came to the US at 17 years old, especially wanted me to have better opportunities than he did. Parents want their kids to have good jobs where they can rise to the top. Often, this hope translates to a job where they get paid well for what they're doing, and parents use money as a motivator for their kids. Rather than pushing money, I want parents to push happiness and self-fulfillment. Are your kids happy with what they're doing? Are they content with their jobs?
So, before accepting your next job offer, ask yourself the question - are you accepting this job for the pay? Is this job going to make me happy and self-fulfilled? Once you've asked yourself these questions, understand your "why." Why are you going to accept this job? Some reasons to accept a job are the following (not limited to) -
Job of Your Dreams - As a young professional, it's hard to tell what the job of your dreams is going to be since you're so fresh to your career. However, there are times where you find the position you've been looking for, that you're passionate about, and want to pursue. I totally get and respect that. If you find that, and I mean REALLY find it , then pursue it! Take the opportunity and run with it!
Learning - The responsibilities of the job will provide you with vast learning experience which you can apply to future positions.
Growth Potential - If you foresee potential to grow within the company... HOWEVER, as a young professional, be mindful of making a decision on long-term growth in a company. You may take a position at a large company where there is lots of room for growth (as you were told), and you end up hating it after six months and want to leave. You could also end up loving it and stay there for 25+ years.
Networking Opportunities - The position you take might be in the industry of your dreams and connect you with influential people who've been in the industry for a long time. The position might enable you to get exposure to these people, allow you to connect with them, and gain some of their perspectives.