It’s likely that at some point in your childhood, someone asked you the infamous question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” If you’re like me, the answer was always the same: employed.
With tuition rates, virtual school, and inflation at an all time high, is it realistic to expect students to strive for anything more than a paycheck? And why isn’t it enough to just do your job and do it well?
Having a job means having something productive to do that earns you money. Whereas, a career is a long-term journey. Building a career is something you work at every single day. A career combines years of independent jobs, experience, and education.
In this hyper competitive society, it’s easy to feel like you’re falling behind or watching your career aspirations slip away. When in reality, every employment opportunity you pursue, and every job you take on, can actually help you with your long-term goals.
Maybe the summer you spent working as a lifeguard in high school may not mean much to you now, but it could also be where you got lifesaving certifications, prioritized time management, learned to pay attention to details and improved your social skills.
That summer job may not have been glamorous and your future dream probably isn’t to be a lifeguard professionally, but that doesn’t mean your job was a deadend or a waste of time.
In 2014, Forbes magazine published an article titled “Why Everyone Should Work Retail Once in Their Lives”. The article discussed how young adults working inconvenient retail hours helped them to gain empathy, patience, and respect. More importantly, it discussed the ways in which retail jobs can help us understand customer behavior, marketing, merchandising, inventory management, logistics, and more.
So don’t discredit your job if it’s not what you want to do in the long run! Building a career takes time.
As we’ve seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are essential. The historic and unique perspective we have gained in the last two years addresses the undervaluing and insecurity of low-wage work in the United States and around the world.
Next time you’re feeling down about your current employment, remember that you are an essential player in the overall economy. More importantly, remind yourself that a career is not only the outcome of hard work, but also the journey in itself. It’s easy to dismiss some jobs as just a way to earn extra cash in the short-term, but in reality, every job helps build the foundation of a successful career. And you’re on the way to one!
In the end, it’s not what you do, but how you do it. And how you made others feel around you. We never forget the kind janitors, careful bus drivers or attentive hairdressers. If we’ve learned one thing, may it be to appreciate how hard it is to show up every day with a smile, no matter what the circumstances.