Many people today don’t just want their job to provide them with income. Instead, they want their job to fulfill them emotionally, socially and mentally. A recent article in Huffington Post dealt with the idea that people in Generation Y have been told from birth that they can do anything they want to do, that they are special and that there is no limit to what they can achieve. While this may be true, unemployment rates are also at record highs for young people and there are many people struggling with debts and desperate to find jobs in a time when most work being created is part time or low wage.
Amidst a tough economic climate, there have been certain fundamental changes including a decline in American manufacturing and an increase in outsourcing to other countries that are unlikely ever to be reversed. It is more important than ever to make smart and informed choices and to choose a career path that can allow you financial security.
Is a Secure Career More Important Than a Fulfilling Career?
Most people make the choice about what career track to start down at the time when they attend college. People who are hoping to change the world or who find fulfillment will typically choose their major or concentration based on the things that they are interested in, rather than necessarily based on the skills that are in demand from employers.
For example, while it can be a smart choice to get your masters in marriage and family therapy since there is always demand for professionals who can offer counseling and services to couples going through hard times, some people will pursue other types of degrees that are less targeted towards a specific job after they get out of college.
A degree in English, in feminist studies or in philosophy is a degree that you might really be interested in pursuing and that might enrich your knowledge greatly, but it won’t necessarily have any specific skills that can translate directly into getting a job. This can make it hard to show employers that you can add value to their workplace.
When many college graduates are working for minimum wage or cannot find jobs in their fields, you need to think very carefully about whether it makes sense to pursue a degree that is not directly targeted towards finding secure employment that pays you enough to make a living.
Does Fulfillment Matter in Your Career?
While you can and should be practical in acquiring skills that make you valuable in the workplace, this doesn’t mean that career fulfillment is entirely irrelevant or is something that you should not consider at all. You don’t want to spend your days doing a job that you hate or study something that you have no interest in or aptitude for just because you think that it might be beneficial in helping you to find a job. Money isn’t everything, and you need to pursue a career path that you won’t be unhappy spending your life doing.
Money—You Can’t Live (Well) without It
However, no matter how fulfilled you are at your job, you aren’t going to be happy if you cannot put food on the table. This means you should consider a range of different things that you might be interested in and the different degrees and career paths that you prefer. You should make your first priority finding something that is going to allow you to actually earn enough to achieve a reasonable middle class lifestyle. However, there are an array of different jobs that can allow you to do that, so you can find the practical job that is best suited to your interests.
It is also important to realize that many people change jobs, move up in their field and acquire skills as they work. This means that you may wish to first place a priority on getting started in a job where you can make a living regardless of whether the work is fulfilling or not. You can then continue to learn on the job, grow your knowledge and explore opportunities to make your career more what you had hoped it would be. By getting yourself into a good job that provides financial security, you may eventually also be able to find fulfillment in your work as you prove to employers that you are a valuable asset to have in the workplace.
Anrdew Charles is a financial advisor turned entrepreneur. After receiving a bachelor’s in finance, he went back to get his MBA and decided to start his own business. He has a wealth of business knowledge and volunteers advising college students.