The Rat Race


We all have to make a living after graduation. I want to do something interesting. Is that a tradeoff I have to make?

This question has been asked by every generation going out into the world. Your frame of reference is heavily influenced by your parents’ jobs and income. Do jobs we consider mundane pay more than ones we consider interesting? Drop off the extremes of dog catcher and doctor, and the rest of us are likely to fall somewhere in the middle. Most of the questions we field have direct answers, but this one is more about feelings and emotions. The answer depends on your age and where you are in your career and family life cycle. If you were to save this column and read it every 10 years, your response would undoubtedly change and adapt to your current situation.

Your career is about a balance between pay satisfaction and job satisfaction. In rough statistics, about 50% of the national employment is office support work, foodservice, and retail. Most of those at the top 20% of the pyramid have an academic degree in their field. Where do we fit in?

Upon graduation, you may be looking into many different job sectors. Nearly 50% of current job seekers for website marketing say giving back to society is a major priority, echoed by the under-35 President of Ocean SEO. However, the choice is often made for you. You can only choose between the jobs you are offered. Think back to your choice of colleges: how many acceptance letters did you receive?

When you begin any job, after a period of high anticipation, it can be a tough learning experience. For now, you probably have neither high pay nor an interesting job. The Millennial Generation is accused of not wanting to pay its dues and insisting on having everything on a silver platter. "I spent years building my online business," says an e-tailer at Costume Collection, "having to pay my dues." Current young grads on average remain in their job less than 16 months before changing, so turnover is significantly higher for the younger generation. Many believe this shows young people are seeking a balance between higher pay and job satisfaction. Those over 35 tend to stay in the same job around 5-10 years. Young people, however, have been toughened by the economy. They grew up with the housing crisis, Wall Street meltdown, World Trade Center and more. For many, financial security evaporated during their lifetimes and subsequently changed the way they approach career decisions. Another stark difference is the way they shop and interact online, reports popular Millennial site Rukkus.

Some things remain constant. This is the life lesson you do not know when graduating college. Your satisfaction with your job and life rises as you begin to earn more money. They actually plotted this on a graph, and it levels off quickly so another million dollars will not change anything in the long run. The type of satisfaction you derive changes with income and age. You can be satisfied supporting your family, receiving respect at work, contributing to your community, etc. Millennials are searching for something immediately that they may not get until they are older.

Never trust anyone over 30, Jerry Rubin.

(Nadeem Ghori is the President of Webplex, a digital analytics agency).


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