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Confused... Should you chose a job based on your enjoyment or based on compensation?

I am a girl who is not exactly sure about what I want to do but I would like to know how people chose their career options. #medicine #law #education #health #career-path #government #arts

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Subject: Career question for you

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Steve’s Answer

Best of the Village

Of course, many of us want to be a rock star or an artist or a teacher but these jobs rarely pay enough to survive. And probably few of us want to be ditch diggers or garbage men but those jobs pay a lot--because there is more work than there are candidates.


If you learn anything in college, you should learn about supply and demand. You make more money for jobs that have fewer candidates. Airlines can treat their employees terribly (and they do!) because thousands and thousands apply each year for a very small number of openings.


The key is to learn a skill that is desired by employers that not everyone can do.


I majored in business and minored in computers. My first job was a programmer for a defense contractor. I liked the work and the pay but it didn't seem to have much of a future. A friend connected me with a job with a vendor of a product I used. Joining the new company opened my eyes to the many many jobs that I'd never heard about in my traditional education. My high schools and colleges knew nothing about jobs in sales support, technical documentation, quality assurance, or product management.


In retrospect, I realize I spent my twenties learning about opportunities in the real world, and honing my personal skills--learning how to make speeches, write well, and work with customers. In my 30s, I discovered the intersection of business, marketing, and technology that was a perfect fit for me--product management for software companies. In my 40s I perfected my skills in product management and now I sell my expertise to others.


A family member hated his first job. Hated it! But he had skills that could be applied to other pursuits and quickly found a job that he enjoyed.


Obviously you want a job that you don't hate. And you want a job that pays. Use your 20s to find a job that fits your skills and temperament, and then hone those skills throughout your career.

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Lainie’s Answer

Hi Lori,


I can tell you that when I decided to go to law school, it was not for the paycheck. I wanted to contribute to the world and make a difference for people who's access to justice wasn't necessarily guaranteed. It didn't turn out the way I had planned. When I graduated from law school, there was a recession, I had a mountain of debt and needed to earn enough to pay my student loans. So I took a somewhat different path than first intended. It took me a little while to find my way, but I have. I'm still paying off my student loans 12 years later, but I am also living a comfortable, fulfilling life. And I love what I do. That's still the most important thing to me.


You are likely going to spend the majority of your time at work once you get out into the workforce (most of us do). If you don't have some kind of passion for the career you choose, you will be miserable and unfulfilled, no matter how much you are earning. And life is much too short to be miserable and unfulfilled. But I also think you can find a happy medium - doing something you enjoy doesn't automatically mean sacrificing compensation. You should be paid what you are worth, regardless of whether you chose your job out of enjoyment or otherwise. Never sell yourself short - too many women do. You can, like me, love your job, feel good about what you do, and get paid a decent salary doing it. And it may not necessarily be the first career you choose - it wasn't for me.


I hope this helps. Good luck on your path!

Thank you comment icon This is very informative and helpful, thank you Teal
Thank you comment icon This is very helpful. Thanks! Andrea
Thank you comment icon Thank you for your help Maeve
Thank you comment icon It's very easy to be unhappy if you don't make enough money to meet and exceed your goals. So there is a fine line of pure job happiness and surviving. I know many artists, who love to paint, dance, sing and construct, but most are unhappy because they are struggling to survive. I believe the key is focusing on your career and also giving back. So when you are working 40 hours a week you can spend another 10+ volunteering for causes you believe. If it's government help a candidates, if it's military find an organization and so on. You never know which doors will open, but the more you prove your self the more likely you will find new opportunities. Christopher D. Coutu, MBA, BB
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Michelle’s Answer

Many people say, "Do what you love and the money will follow." I agree, but you also need to be realistic. If you have loans to pay off, want to live in a city after college, and aren't going into a field with loan forgiveness like teaching or non-profit work -- you're going to need to get a job that will make ends meet. Think about what your life looks like after college, look up the rent in that city, how much food costs, and your expected loan repayment amount each month. Once you have this rough budget, you can figure out the minimum you need to make at your job to live the lifestyle you want to have. Then hopefully you still have some dream jobs in the mix that will meet your financial requirements!


I chose my dream job, but I live at home with my parents to save on rent and have the lifestyle I want.

Thank you comment icon So either way it's a give and take? Teal
Thank you comment icon Thank you Mjchelle this is really interesting! Savera
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Mia’s Answer

Hi Lori


Great question. I can tell you in the beginning most people are driven by the mighty dollar. The world is so materialistic sometime it's hard to not go for that great paying job.


As you get older you will find out, at least for me, that you should have a job that you are passionate about. This will ensure that you enjoy getting up each and every morning to go to the job.


I hope this helps.

Thank you comment icon I agree. Just doing a job because it pays well means you won't do your best, right? Teal
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the insight Andrea
Thank you comment icon Thank you Mia this is really interesting! Savera
Thank you comment icon Thank you this helped Maeve
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Masha’s Answer

Hi there,


Thanks for asking your question. It's been my experience that employment where you can share your gifts and talents will benefit you and others way more than a job based on compensation alone. I have been a scientist and I now work freelance in film. My scientific jobs are great, yet my passion lies in communications and the arts. I feel better when I am creative. As far as compensation grouped with your passion, you can make it happen. You must have a plan to do what you love just like any other career. I hope my answer helps you a bit.

Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice from your own life Teal
Thank you comment icon Thank you Masha this is really interesting! Savera
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Jeff’s Answer

I agree with Elizabeth, the decision shouldn't be one or the other, but a combination of both. However, I think there are certain minimum thresholds you should set based on your own needs and wants. Some people have very little need or want of money, they plan on living very inexpensively (perhaps with roommates or parents). Others won't be happy unless they are in that top 1% of income earners. Most people are somewhere in the middle and want a minimum income to satisfy their needs and some desires (a car, a house, occasional vacations etc). You should honestly access what you would want\need to take care of yourself in regard to money.


Once that is determined, then find out jobs that cover your need but will be very enjoyable to you. Ask yourself questions such as:
Do you like to work by yourself or with a team?
Do you enjoy math and science or reading and literature?

Do you want to have people working for you or not?


If you have any opportunity to do an internship so you can see what jobs are out there and which ones you are interested would be a great opportunity for you.


Good Luck

Thank you comment icon This is a really difficult question, thank you for the advice Teal
Thank you comment icon Thank you jeff this is really interesting! Savera
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the input :) It is important to figure out what's best for you but to take into account finances as well. Andrea
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Elizabeth’s Answer

That is a great question and I would say a little of both.
One upon a time I was a recruiter and traveled 60% of the year. The position was exciting but after I started a family, I wanted a position that kept me in the home office (and in my own home) more often than not. When I left, I took a role that paid a little laugh but had the work/life balance I was looking for at the time.
You will want to choose a role that you love, a position that pairs your passions with your expectations, but you also want to be able to pay your bills. :)
Right after college, you may be in a position where "beggars can't be choosers" and that is okay too. You can use that as a stepping stone for future roles that meet all of your needs.

Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice Teal
Thank you comment icon Thank you Elizabeth this is really interesting! Savera
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Vivian’s Answer

Hi Lori,


Good one! When I was younger, obviously it was about the Benjamins (ok that just made me sound old). =P I worked hard and I thrive to make money. Now, enjoyment and knowing I'm making a different in people's lives is worth more to me. Just like this site, I know Jared (Co-founder) is doing this, because he knows it will not only, inform you students like yourself, but inspire too. That is worth SO much more than money. SO MUCH MORE. And knowing I can help shape that, also is worth more to me. It's a hard question to answer though, because I can understand why some people would want money over enjoyment. At the end of the day, it's should be what do you want? So, what is it do you want Lori. Whatever it is, as long as it makes you happy. :)


Dream big, Vivian

Thank you comment icon This is a common idea behind a lot of answers, but I was wondering if the extent of this advice is as relevant when you are first entering the job market Teal
Thank you comment icon This does help me. Thank you for taking the time to help Teal
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the question Teal. When I decided to be a designer, it was during the Dot Com Bubble burst (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dot-com_bubble). Everyone told me it's crazy to be a designer, because there will be NO jobs. But I knew I wanted to do it, I was passionaite about it. My high school teacher said, "You can't base your career on the economy, because it changes so often." I kept at it and after 8 years (I paid for college myself), I finished with dual majors and now there isn't enough designers to fill all the jobs available. I don't know if that answers your question, but I hope it gives you a little insight. Vivian Urata
Thank you comment icon Anytime Teal! Vivian Urata
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Leslie’s Answer

Enjoying your job is very important. However, I had to follow the money when I first graduated college. I wanted to work in the interior design field but ended up at a furniture store. It was miserable but I stuck it out and realized I actually like customer service more than design. I decided to follow that path in life and now I have a very successful career. What can be learned from this is that you should do what you enjoy but you might enjoy jobs you never thought of. So if you have to take a different path than you anticipated for any reason, don't give up! You will find happiness and hopefully a great paying job.

- Leslie
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Felix’s Answer

You should take into consideration both. What would be the benefit of enjoying one's job but struggling to meet the ends. Both are intrinsic.

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Nariman’s Answer

It's better to do what one likes than just doing it for the money. It's difficult to sustain one's interest in work for at least 8 hrs/day just for the money. Find out what you enjoy doing and see if you can transfer it to a work situation. Since you are undecided, a good book to read is "What color is your parachute?" It's an in depth analysis helping you figure out what you want to do for a career taking into account our interests, likes and dislikes. The book has a new edition - so look for the latest edition of the book.

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Steffi’s Answer

That's a good question. Think about what you enjoy doing. Do you have a passion? There is an old saying which states "Do what you love and find a way to make money doing it." For instance, if you enjoy mentoring people then that could lead to becoming a therapist. Make sense? Hope this helps!!!

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Steffi’s Answer

Find something you enjoy, are good at, at passionate about, then find a way to make money from it! That is what I did when I counseled young girls. Whatever you have a passion for is your God given talent only you possess. So brainstorm what makes you click and get excited about and then find out what jobs would be available for you. Sometimes these jobs do not always pay a whole lot, so you may have to get a second job to supplement, but when you are doing what you love for a living it is not like work at all! Good Luck!!!!!

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Fiona’s Answer

Always pick the job you love first! People spend so much of their valuable time at work every day so it is important to love what you are doing. And in a lot of situations, when you do the job you love and build up experience, you will be compensated well in the long run.


I would really not recommend taking up a position because it pays well. Life is too short to be miserable at work!

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