Should you pursue a career or work jobs?
I’ve been lucky to experience a job and a career in my lifetime. What is the difference between the two and which makes the most sense for you?
A chance to trial what works and what doesn’t
A job is usually denoted by doing a task over and over again in exchange for money. It is ‘’work’’ – a definitive set or sequence of tasks to complete in order to get paid. Work is rewarding at best and monotonous at worst. And it is precious. If we don’t work, we can’t pay bills and make plans and have fun. There is a great peace found in doing the same thing over and over again and getting really good at it. I’ve had the best experiences ‘’working’’ particularly while I was at school and after leaving school where I had fun doing lots of different jobs, meeting great people, trying a variety of things and getting used to the initial realisation that “money in the bank directly relates to my own efforts and hard work’”.
I also remember work giving me the unique opportunity and a great sense of enlightenment to test and try what I did and did not want to do. I tried a lot of different jobs, as I am sure we all have. It has a profound ability to broaden our take on life, open us up to a world of opportunities and perhaps more importantly learn what makes things we take for granted actually happen.
Work also introduces us to those who work so hard at jobs to make the world go round. Particularly when sometimes jobs have little opportunity for change or advancement within the confines of the working role.
I worked as a cleaner, a Saturday girl in a hairdresser’s, a delicatessen worker, a shop assistant, a waitress, at a green grocer’s, behind a bar, in my Dad’s business and in a factory. These were jobs I could catch onto pretty quickly, become good at quickly (which boosted my confidence), I picked up the skills relatively easily, met nice people, had limited contact with my employer, limited expectations of me personally and I clocked on and clocked off.
I had similar experiences working like this when I moved country and my career was on hold for a while.
A career is a very different kettle of fish.
With a career, you are working for a greater purpose and there is a constant striving and pressure to be better and excel. You hold a vision of an overarching end goal and those around you are conscious to help you get there. It takes longer, the process is broader, deeper and you are likely to be surrounded by a wider group of influencers, colleagues and mentors who are taking you along on your career journey.
Indeed, careers are often referred to as career paths, a term that in itself denotes a journey to somewhere in the future, rather than right now, this minute.
By embarking on a career, you may be in periods of low paid training or waiting for that next course, or being pushed to achieve new things just as you feel comfortable you’ve nailed the last. You will constantly have to adapt to new skills, new pressures and new responsibilities and even experience the difficulty of outgrowing the people who are coaching you, as you learn all you can and then surpass them. You will continually be asked to step outside your comfort zone as you grow.
Overall, with a career, you are on a bigger, longer journey. The rewards are usually higher because you can climb a steeper, taller ladder but the stakes are also usually higher. You will have to take steps in line with company policy and often run the race in line with others competing for a limited position.
At any time, you could get knocked off and be back on the lookout for a job!
Sometimes, it is too early to get hooked into your career – before you have travelled, or before you have experienced a multitude of life experiences. Right now, our university students are busy doing jobs in their first few years of University and only later, start to look towards a career as their University course and workload progresses. It is trickier to focus on a career in the first year of Uni study, but easier to search for a job.
A bit like marriage and dating – a career is always evolving at a faster rate, won’t always be plain sailing and will have its fair shares of up and downs.