What would you do if you were faced with a choice between one job that doesn't pay and another one that does? Many years ago I was faced with such a choice. The options that I was presented with were choosing between pursuing an unpaid internship and applying for a low paying entry level job. Doesn't sound like much of a choice does it?
A friend let me use his college ID to get into the University's placement office. Back then, they were known for being the source of "the" best jobs for young people. However, on that day there were exactly two notices on the board. Although I was interested in both career fields, I had more of a passion for one of them.
One of the job postings was for an unpaid internship at the Public Relations firm A. Brown-Olmstead Associates. At that time it was "....the largest independent organization of its type in the Atlanta market...." The other notice was for a minimum wage cold-caller position at Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest Investment Banking firm in the nation. Despite the low pay, the job presented one of the only opportunities to break into "the business" at a legitimate top-notch firm. Also, the Lehman Brothers investment sales training program was the premier telephone sales training program in entire the world.
At this time in my life I was in search of a prestigious and rewarding career. Regardless of how much I earned, I knew that just saying I worked at Lehman Brothers would carry a certain gravitas. The prospects of learning about the financial markets and one day attaining the lifestyle of an investment professional were very appealing to me. Yet there was still a slight problem - I was even more interested in the world of marketing and public relations.
The position at the PR firm would probably have provided me with inestimable skills that I would build upon for the rest of my life. In the long run, this experience probably would have also led to a lifelong career of professional fulfillment. Honestly, I probably would have pursued the opportunity, if they had just provided for daily bus fare and lunch money. Unfortunately, the reality of earning zero capital gains made me choose to let this option expire worthless (that's Stockbroker talk).
While working at Lehman Brothers, I was promoted to Assistant Sales Manager. I passed my Series 7 licensing examination and learned the business working alongside one of the top producers at the firm. I went on to work as an Account Executive at the now infamous biotech stock trading firm D. Blech & Company, the venerable "white shoe" investment banking firm Bear Stearns and finished my career "on the street" as a Business Development Officer and Registered Sales Principal at one of the industry leading discount brokerage firms, T. D. Waterhouse. My career in the financial services industry was a rewarding and challenging experience, but it was certainly no picnic.
Making such a decision isn't easy. Did I make the right one? The answers to such questions are as knowable now as who would win a bare knuckle fight between Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano at the Apollo Theater in Harlem in the 1920s during the middle of the Ramadan fast. What I do know now is that if the PR job is what I really had a passion for, then I should have found a way to make it happen. Also, I've learned that if you think money is the only thing that makes a career rewarding, you probably have yet to find out what you really love.
When making such a choice, I have found that there are 4 factors that should always be considered. This is true whether you are making career decisions or any other decision that has consequences for your future. These factors are: Health; Wealth; Fame and Family. To make the right decision, it is necessary to be honest about the degree to which these four things are important to you.
Health: Choosing the wrong career can literally be bad for your health. I can testify beyond a shadow of a doubt that the stress and pressure of the financial services industry was sometimes almost unbearable. In the short-run, you might be able to cope with a degree of career stress because you're making a lot of money. Yet in the long-run, it won't be worth it to you if you're ultimately making yourself sick.
Wealth: They say money isn't everything. People who have a lot of it tend to say it more than other people. However, it's still true. Sometimes, sacrificing a little money now to do something you love may pay off big for you in the future.
Fame: Some people are prestige driven. Some people are just salary driven. People who are prestige driven might choose a job, based on the reputation of the company or even the reputation of their boss. If that's what floats your boat then fine. Just be aware that fulfilling opportunities may exist at lesser known companies and working for non-rockstar bosses.
Family: Certain careers that may be professionally rewarding may make it difficult to start or maintain a family. All of the money in the world may not compensate for the long hours spent away from family that some careers require. Some of the best paying, prestigious careers have some of the highest divorce rates. Spending long hours at work might make you a lot of money, but winding up in divorce court years later might cost you half.
There will always be hard choices to make. There will also always be roads not taken. That's why you need to have a solid set of criteria for making decisions. Hopefully, you'll make good choices that won't lead to a life filled with uncertainty and second guessing.
Vince Rogers is an experienced resource manager, communications strategist, change agent and thought leader; trained in economics, marketing, project management and business communication.
Please follows his posts on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/today/author/1669339-Vince-Rogers
Also, please read the article The Final Four: Health; Wealth; Fame; and Family @https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140322165921-1669339-the-final-four-health-wealth-fame-and-family