I’ve mentioned before my love of non-profits. When I was in college I was on the Board of Directors for one that changed my life and I thought for a while that non-profit work is what I want to do as a career. However, non-profits generally pay significantly less than for-profit organizations in similar job capacities since the majority of the money and assets do (and should!) go toward the community/group/focus of the non-profit. I simply can’t accept a lower wage even if it means I’ll feel more fulfilled in my job. Instead I volunteer in my spare time.

For a while I questioned what I really want to do. After all, if I segue into non-profit work I’ll be establishing my base pay for the next few years. Hometown is relatively expensive (it is located in California after all) and lower pay will make a drastic difference in my life. I was jumping back and forth on what I should do and then something occurred to me – maybe doing what you love as a career isn’t as important as making money doing something you enjoy but don’t necessary adore doing and saving your passion for your spare time.

My generation was told that you should do what you love and have a career that fills our little hearts with happiness, that we shouldn’t sell our souls just for money. What our parents didn’t address was when the career you want doesn’t let you make enough money to justify the education it requires or even just to support yourself. If you want to be a specialist in Ancient Pottery Painting Techniques, I’m sure it’s exciting and in some cases can be useful…but it’s also very specialized and I don’t think there’s much demand for it. Look at Evelyn!

I know my last post about her career said she wanted to open a bakery, but since starting her major classes she’s decided to get her Masters and PhD in Classics and make a career studying women in Ancient Civilizations. While that’s really interesting, I don’t see a huge demand for it. Maybe she could give some interviews on the history channel and she could become a professor, but overall I don’t think there’s going to be job growth in that particular area.

If she can’t find a job or she never gets tenure and keeps jumping from college to college, how will she repay her student loans? That’s four years for a BA, around 2 for her Masters then a few for her PhD, added to that the years she spent at city college trying to transfer…that’s going to be a huge sum to repay. In a field that I’m willing to bet doesn’t pay that well. When I pointed out her prospects she said that doing what she loved was important to her and she would ‘make it work’. I’m guessing all of those English Majors in the Occupy Wall street movement were doing what they loved too and thought they could make it work. Sometimes life just doesn’t go the way you plan or the way you want it to.

As cold blooded as it seems, I want to encourage my children to have a career where they are guaranteed a future and an income, and they can save their passion for their spare time. It’s great if you can do both, if you are an amazing debater and end up being a famous litigation attorney more power to you; just that most people aren’t going to have a passion that easily translates into a secure, high paying job. I’m not saying do a job you hate, just that maybe your career doesn’t have to fully fulfil you, maybe everyone can’t have their dream be their career. Maybe that’s just life.

Should people pursue their passion over a more realistic goal or am I being a dream killing scrooge?

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