Graduation is in the air, and I can’t help but think about students finishing their degrees and marching off to their new jobs. It’s a stressful enough time, and I suspect that even though the economy is no longer in a free fall that jobs are still hard to come by. Which makes it all the harder for students to stick it out for the jobs they really want instead of the jobs they can get.
It’s easy to pretend that the first job you take is just that, and that it’s not a first step down a path. The truth is, it is a move in one direction. It’s not an irrevocable one, but this step will make it easier to continue in one direction, harder to turn to another one.
While I was at business school, I had an offer for a job that was exactly the kind of job you go to business school to get: prestigious, it would get me a set of skills I thought I wanted, it paid well, the works.
The only thing was, I didn’t want the job. The people weren’t right, the culture wasn’t right, my motivations for considering the job weren’t right. Just thinking about accepting the job physically made my stomach tighten up. But I knew it would be a stepping stone to other things. And I knew my classmates would say I was crazy (or worse) for turning it down.
A close friend gave me some advice I’ll never forget.
She said, “A few months from now, it’s just going to be you showing up at that office. None of your classmates, none of the people who are going to tell you you’re crazy for turning it down, no one but you is going to be there. And then what?”
It’s true. It’s you, it’s your job, it’s your path, it’s your life.