So, you are considering which job to pursue out of college, or planning your next move up the corporate ladder while you do your best to stay focused on your current job. As you are plotting and thinking, don’t underestimate the benefit of learning while on a job as a young person, as opposed to simply zeroing in on what you will be earning at any given job.
Sure, Yahoo News is constantly sharing the five easiest jobs that pay six figures, but that source will not always share with you the less obvious truth about how you can boost your career simply by learning all sorts of new skills and approaches as you master your first or second job out of college. It is almost impossible to quantify the value of such learning, but every tool that you can put into your belt as you proceed in the world of work will come in handy at later positions, which will grow in responsibility and salary and enable you to climb the corporate ladder.
In other words, don’t choose any job only on the basis of salary. Consider what you can learn and whom you can learn from when it comes time to choose a position.
Here are several areas in which you can gain valuable lessons on that early job in the career-building process:
You can learn more about the field in which you have a passion.
That might not occur if you choose a job solely on the basis of pay, which could place you in a field that will quickly grow dull to you. Better to start with an unpaid internship or take a job in your chosen field for lower pay and begin to figure out who you are as a person and employee: do you want to be in an office or on the road? Preparing presentations or giving them? Working on a team or flying solo much of the time? Learn these lessons within the boundaries of the field that you love, which may or may not be the same as the major you chose in college. Huge bucks will satisfy for awhile, and you could possibly grow to like the better-paying industry, but history is filled with people who made good money early, only to grow bitter and jaded as the job got boring. You can pursue your passion and make a living, but you might not make top dollar early in your career.
People are truly more important than money.
That is true not simply on a relational level, but also on a professional level. That’s why some people choose unpaid internships to sit at the feet of a master for a year or more. As you make job decisions, try to get into a network of successful people whom you admire. Before you know it, you will be soaking up their wisdom and catching their eye as they look for people to promote in the future. That will result in bigger paydays and even more satisfying work down the line. The benefit of a gifted mentor cannot be put into a mathematical equation. Such mentors will notice that you were willing to work hard for peanuts, and they might remember you at a key time in the company’s history in future years. The quickest route to a corner office and a move up the corporate ladder is not always by snagging the highest-paying job. Lessons learned can turn into dollars earned with time, especially as you get to know the powerful people in your field.
With big money comes big pressure.
You might benefit from a job with lower expectations that will allow you to make a few mistakes and learn from them. Better to miss a meeting in a corporation that is not dependent on your memory than to forget a rendezvous when you are responsible for an entire sales region. Valuable on-the-job lessons include: advanced time management (you will be much busier than you were in college), personal organization, flexibility and relationship-building, all of which can occur in a lower-profile, lower-pay job without widespread ramifications if you forget a task or have a dust-up with a colleague. As you stumble and learn, you will become a more skilled employee that is becoming more valuable to the company every single day. You might need to forego expensive meals out and lavish vacations your first few years in the working world, but you will be assembling a skill set that can lead to much bigger paychecks as you climb the corporate ladder.