If you’ve graduated recently or are just about to graduate, or if you’re one of those poor people only in your first year of Uni but are already panicking, chances are that you’re thinking about what it is precisely that you want to do with the rest of your life. It’s something that freaks us all out, from medical students questioning if they really want to dedicate just under a decade of their life to studying, or English Literature students desperately trying to string together a CV of transferrable skills for literally any job.
But as a recent graduate myself, the question that keeps coming up time and time again with my friends is, ‘do we have to choose between a career we really want or a job that will make us money?’ In an ideal world we’d have both, but at this stage in our lives it just doesn’t seem to be much of an option. If you want to go down a creative path, like acting, or if you want to actively make the world a better place with charity work or being a nurse, money just isn’t seen as synonymous with that. But, you gotta live, and it’s entirely justifiable taking a job that’ll mean you can actually go out on the weekends and have a social life. Think of Marshall in How I Met Your Mother; highly paid corporate law job for the worst bank in the world, or Environmental Lawyer where you’ll earn nothing?
I asked a few of my friends, either recently graduated or graduates-to-be, to see if they saw it as a problem…
“Competitive lines of work just take advantage of people our age straight out of university and pay us very little. It’s become more of a privilege thing being able to do what you want, which sucks. It means people end up going into jobs they don’t necessarily want just because it’s a means to an end.” – Aylin, 22
“It’s definitely a problem. There used to be so much money in journalism but now there’s hardly any. I’d definitely have been a journalist 10 years ago, but now I’ll have to explore more options.” – Stasi, 20
“I think it’s very easy for young people, especially graduates, to forget that we’re at work a hell of a long time and choosing the right job should be a two-way process. It’s perfectly acceptable to give something a go to decide whether or not it’s actually ‘doing what you really want.” – James, 23
The consensus seems to be, yes there is definitely a problem, but if only for some people. If you’re lucky enough that you can support yourself through an unpaid internship or have somehow gotten into a grad job that you actually like and pays well – we all know someone – then it’s not as bad. But for everyone else, money and a career seem to be at odds with each other.
Depressing, right? We’re supposedly such an entitled generation but we’re also the ones who will never be able to afford a house and need to get that extra job on the weekend to make ends meet. But, I think that sometimes we forget that these things don’t always come quickly. Too often we seem to think that not achieving something immediately is seen as a failure. But listen to my friend James: “It’s important to remember that choosing a job is more than just getting that job, it’s a process. It can take time to decide what it is precisely that you want to do, even in something as vocational as nursing or medicine where you can specialise.”
There’s nothing wrong with taking that low-paying job that’s vaguely related to the career you think you want and giving it a go. Heck, even taking a job that’s not related to what you want to do can work out, because the job hunt is essentially just a big old game of trial and error. We only know by getting out there, plugging at it and figuring it out.
When we work hard and take our time – and sometimes there’s a pinch of luck involved – we can find our way to a perfect job in the career that we want that pays a decent amount of money. But right now, stressing out over not finding the perfect job isn’t going to achieve anything.
And if you’re looking for an easy way to manage your money whilst you choose a career, check out Loot here. The app lets you budget, put money aside and use your contactless card abroad without any additional charges. Perfect.