Gradvice: For Love or For Money?

for love or money

The most difficult decision that comes your way post college graduation is not where you will be living or who you will be living with – it is what the hell you are going to do with your life.

For those of you lucky enough to have a job already, congrats. You are well on your way to a fulfilling life doing what you want to be doing. For the rest of you, and right now that is a lot of you, you have some big choices to make. Some huge questions to answer. And the most pressing and difficult is:

Take a job you love or take a job that pays well?

I found myself in a similar situation post college graduation. I wanted nothing more than to pick up, move to NYC and become a writer. I had dreams of covering red carpets and touring the country with my first book, all whilst wearing the sexiest pair of Jimmy Choos. I would take pictures with fans, discuss movie deals with Paramount pictures, and wow audiences with my talents.

And then I got my first job. That paid $25,000.

It was an awesome job that totally got my foot in the door, but the money was atrocious. That is $25,000 before taxes. In NYC. Sure, I got to write what I wanted and be part of a magazine masthead, but as I packed my ramen up for lunch every day, I constantly wondered if passion for your work (and artificially-flavored noodles) is enough to survive.

And then there were my friends. Not sure what to do with themselves, they found jobs that had nothing to do with their life goals and just paid really (REALLY) well. Like $100,000 well. The work sucked, the hours sucked, and their bosses sucked, but they got to go home to their sick apartments and eat at nice restaurants and really enjoy their post grad years.

I looked at them and made them buy me dinner wondered if maybe that was a better choice.
They looked at me and told me that money didn’t matter and I should do what I love.

I don’t know what answer is best for you. I do know, however, that 4 years later I am not making my millions, but I am still in love with what I do. And my friends, with their giant savings accounts, are still grumbling on their way to work every morning where they spend their days searching online for new jobs.

I also know that random jobs (i.e. paralegal, consulting, etc.) that pay really well do so for a reason. You will be working ridiculous hours, doing tedious tasks or constantly feeling way too smart for whatever assignments come your way. It’s all a trade-off and it’s really up to you to decide if enjoying your job is more important, or enjoying your paycheck is.

What I can say is this: if you have a passion and want nothing more than to spend your life doing it, don’t be swayed by a large salary elsewhere. Life will not be easy, but at least you will feel fulfilled. And if you’re just not sure of what you want from your life, spending a few years making bank at a crappy job may not be such a bad idea. Just know what you are getting into before you sign away your sanity.

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