I love my morning scone from the bakery on campus… This may sound a bit crazy, but it is truly a simple joy that makes my life infinitely better. However, some other staff would tell you I need my morning cup of coffee… As in, I am not human without it. I could live without the scone, but probably not the necessary coffee jolt only a young mom and professional could appreciate.
This may sound like a very basic comparison, but in today’s world many of us are forced to choose between our loves and our needs. When it comes to our professional lives these choices can affect our future in ways we could never have imagined.
I have to ask: what amount of need is worth giving up your true passion? As a Career Services professional, I see these choices on a daily basis. A young student offered a glitzy job with an equally glamorous salary is also offered a lower paying job without all of the razzle dazzle, but with an amazing company and an opportunity for growth.
How is a new graduate with potential student loans and a desperate need for independence supposed to choose? One could always make a simple Pro/Con list, but those seem to fall short of the long-term ramifications of a professional life.
We each have a price tag; whether we like to admit it or not, a cost which is required for us to live. No one is wrong for knowing that price. In fact, I encourage my students to know the price of their lives before even embarking on the career journey, because if your needs are not met, can you truly achieve your passions?
Make a list of personal priorities in order of importance in your general life. This list consists of familial, housing, and basic living needs typically (and coffee for some of us). Put a price tag on those needs. This sounds terrible, but each needs costs us something, and it is important to know what priorities cost you.
Compare your passion income against your needs budget. Reflect in a unbiased light. Look at the long-term cost of your choices. I call this the opportunity cost. Many high-paying jobs right out of college have high turn-over and low accumulation of on-the-job experience. Whereas, slower growing jobs, at a lower salary or in a smaller company, may offer a variety of opportunities for growth and knowledge accumulation.
Weigh your passions, your needs, and your future in a way that truly guides you on a path that is right for you. The important thing is to remain honest with yourself about what your true needs are. Some people can exist happily in a studio apartment while they cut their teeth in a new career, but some people truly need to maintain a more expensive lifestyle. It is never my job to judge, just to make sure that students make the right decisions for themselves.
I encourage everyone to weigh their needs, passions, and future aspirations throughout their career, as we are all ever-evolving individuals. The path you choose can always change, but in the end, I hope that we all find a place where we can have our scones and our coffee too!
Donna Reed is a graduate of WKU’s School of Broadcast and Journalism with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations. She has served as the Director of Career Services for two educational institutions and consulting in numerous markets building partnerships, educational opportunities, and raising awareness and funding for charitable organizations across the U.S. She loves to help individuals find their passions and achieve their dreams.