“Job” or “Career”? The keys to the difference

career job

Career-track employment is a wonderful thing, and I am not here to discredit it. However, I think the value of “jobs” is becoming harder to see. Maybe it’s not a “career job” when you start, but can’t you turn a “job” into something valuable? Here’s a little career advice: look at the skills you can develop in any job. Do your best to learn them well, and apply them. Then see what you think!

Case in point:

A 21 year old psychology student, Nina, took a job as a secretary in a real estate office. Her competence quickly earned her more responsibility, and within 6 months she was the office manager. At 9 months, her boss offered her tuition to get her real estate license. She did. At 18 months, she was the property manager of over 800 rental units. At 3 years, she’s making more than $60,000 per year, and has minimal debt. She loves her work. School is paid for, though it is taking an extra year. The kicker? She was advised against the secretary job because it wasn’t “career-track.”

Similar stories can be told about the cashier at the pharmacy who became a pharmacist, the Burger King employee who now owns 5 restaurants, and the man who joined a painting crew as a second job who opened his own house painting company. 

Sales professionals in outside sales may think the only job they should take is a sales job. Think again. Any job that has you working with other businesses could be honing the skills you need to work well in B2B sales. Look a little more deeply at the skills, and you may be doing your career a favor.

Perspective and attitude make the difference

These people were open to the possibility that they may have interest and talent in more than their college major. None of these people saw their employment as “just a job,” and that’s what made the difference. They took their work seriously, and learned to do it well. Those attitudes helped them make choices that lead to fulfilling employment, and careers that can grow as far as they want to take them.

What if you hate your job? What then? You’re still learning valuable lessons. Maybe you’re learning that office work is not for you, but you’re also learning about the management, operations, and skills required for office work to get done. Maybe you never want to flip another burger, but you’re learning about general food and health rules, team management, and the joys and challenges of serving the general public. When you have to stand in for the manager, maybe you learn that you love to supervise. Or maybe you learn that you’d rather take direction than give it.

When opportunity knocks, don’t mistake him for an intruder!  Don’t avoid work because it’s not obviously on your career track. If there’s a part-time opportunity in some area you’d like to check out, go for it! If you need a second job to make the rent, do it with pride. And if there’s nothing available in your field, get a job anyway. You can apply what you learn in dozens of ways. And it just might change your life.