Which is better: continuing to work a job you've grown to dislike because it is advantageous for you career-wise, or finding a new job that you genuinely enjoy?
I've always believed that if you pursue a career you love, then you'll never work a day in your life, so I've followed my dreams and have always planned to pursue my passion, even if it might not result in the most high-paying job. This passion is writing. However, throughout the years, I've discovered that not just any type of writing suits me. I did informal work as a journalist by copywriting for my high school yearbook for my entire four years of high school, and now I’m continuing that type of journalistic work by working as a copy editor and staff writer for my college newspaper. The problem is that I don’t like journalism. I don’t quite hate it, exactly, but I’d much rather be devoting my time and energy into creative writing. I forced myself to do copywriting for all four years of high school even though I disliked it and thought about quitting so many times, mainly because I wanted to have one extracurricular that I had done consistently to put on my college resume. But now that I’m in college, I find myself stuck in the same position—I’m writing for the student newspaper, but I don’t actually like this job because it’s practically identical to my yearbook role. I can’t quite bring myself to just quit so easily because I’ve convinced myself that if I stick with writing for the newspaper for all four years, then it will be good job experience, especially since I want to go into publishing in the future, but do I really want to put myself through yet ANOTHER four years of forcing myself to tough it out in a job that I don’t like? Is it wrong to want to put my mental health and happiness first, even if I know that sticking it out in this job might be more advantageous career-wise? The thing is, I don’t even want to do journalism as my career—I want to work in creative writing or publishing, but I’m trying to be open-minded about all writing opportunities. At the same time, though, I don’t want to get stuck in a career in journalism when that was never what I wanted in the first place. I’m just so stressed and confused about what I should do. When I asked my aunt for advice, she basically told me I was being too naive and that it’s called a “job” or “work” because you’re not SUPPOSED to like what you do in the first place, so she advised me to just stick it out. The whole reason I wanted to pursue a writing job is because I love writing, but the thing is, I’m not enjoying THIS type of writing, and it just makes me think… what was the point of pursuing my passions in the first place if I’m still not happy? Instead of doing journalism, which makes me so unhappy, I might as well have worked toward becoming a doctor or lawyer or something, since I’d be equally as unhappy but they’re higher-paying jobs. I’m a seriously conflicted student in need of career advice. college journalism writing job work-life-balance work career-advice help career-help advice technical-writing creative-writing publishing editing career following-your-passions career-counseling career-choice career-path student career-planning student-advice writing-and-editing
Chi Ngo, CIA, CAMS
Hi Catherine - I, and other seasoned professionals, find ourselves in the same predicament. On one hand, you're a hard worker who appreciates the difference between a job and a dream, yet who also knows the value you can bring when you're motivated. On the other hand, you're finding yourself questioning your path and the impact of the path you're taking. It's expected that we will all question ourselves - our choices and our impact on the world - many times throughout our lives.
My advice to you is that you leverage your resources to help you make these tough decision. If I've learned anything in my years, it's that we all tend to exaggerate obstacles in our minds, and we have to trust those around us and leverage our resources to most effectively tackle them. In your case, I suggest you take the necessary time to focus on determining what you think your career should be. Keep in mind that you need to be practical (consider pros/cons, pay, day-to-day demands/expectations, alignment with your values/goals) and flexible (understand that your perception and life circumstances will change as you grow) in your decision-making. Then, once you make this determination, find ways to network with professionals in that field, and get their feedback (e.g., being in the field, do they see that X job on a resumé has helped people get that job; what courses/experience do they suggest). There's no better way to achieve a goal than to put a face to that goal and to have the experts help you get there.
You are not alone - in your existential struggles, or in making life-defining decisions.
As long as you are learning and challenged, it may be worth toughing it out. If you are not learning and growing, can you evolve the position so you start doing more of what you like and less of what you do not enjoy? Eg Copywriting 80% of the time and writing a new column 20% of the time. Can you speak with your boss about your career objectives and advancement in responsibility if not role? This job should be a stepping stone to your next career objective. Reverse engineer to understand what you would need to done to have the job that you really want. Then figure out what jobs would provide the skills and experience you are seeking. It is easier to look for a job while you have a job, and it is time and energy to look for another position, but time well spent if it lands you in a more fulfilling and challenging career path. And I would add that college is a good time to take risks and try different jobs - you might look at part time jobs with startups doing social media writing, where you can learn about entrepreneurship along the way, or on your own time start your own blog on medium or experiment with other ways of storytelling - video blogging... Are there internships that would take you in the directions you want to go? You have to look for what you want. It's a search adventure but with more and more remote jobs, there are lots of interesting opportunities out there. https://bit.ly/2RQccq6
Hi, Catherine - you have other options besides sticking it out at the student newspaper. I have been in jobs that I despised because they were advantageous to my career, but the angst of doing a job you don't enjoy is not worth the experience you might gain. My advice would be to see if you can get an internship at an ad agency or marketing firm near you. While it might not pay much (or even nothing), you will be gaining useful skills in creative writing that will serve you well no matter what your future holds. Good luck and keep thinking positive!
I would say to those with recent degrees, lucky enough to land career progressive employment; Work and learn the job, and in doing so, you are"laying the groundwork", to learn your profession. A large part of social service work comes from, not only experience, but, Life's Experience. Without the situational experience, how can you help anyone, with anything?
Never remain in a job that makes you unhappy just to be safe, but if the job will be a stepping stone to another level for you where you will be happy, you might give it some time before abandoning it. It's always easier to find a job when you have one...