As the fall semester is ending, some of you are graduating and seeking full-time employment, while others are starting to think about getting a summer internship.   Of course these thoughts are coming AFTER you have gone out celebrating the fact that you won’t have to touch another book this term (YAY!), and then freak out for the “Oh no, what is next!?”. That is a really great question for each of you to ask yourselves. What is next? What does the next job opportunity look like? If you are like most of the world, you see it as something amazing, something you have always dreamed of, you are probably excited about the company’s awesome products that you L-O-V-E, the fun company culture, your amazing coworkers, a flexible boss, exciting job responsibilities, and that high paying 6 figure salary (cannot forget that piece!). Well that dream doesn’t come without putting in some time and even some sacrifices- you don’t come out of your undergrad degree making $60-120k.

I’m going to share with you all a recent discussion in one of my graduate classes. (Yes, I am in school; I know the struggle of a work, life, school balance!) In class, we were wrapping up, honing in on our learnings on leadership and what makes employees happy, when one of our classmates (an ex-NFL player) mentioned that he wanted to share a realization he came to from this course. He went on to say, “I realized that it would take someone to at least double my salary to leave my current job- especially for a desk job! I mean I would go crazy sitting at a cubical all day. And where else would I get Fridays off, a company truck, AND a company card to take clients out for sales meetings that involve food and alcohol? I used to spend a lot of my personal money on going out to eat and socialize; now I get paid to do that, and the whole check is covered. I love my job!!” Ok, so now you may be just like the rest of the class and wonder- what is this job and how do I get in?!? So his response to this question, “I’m an Account Manager. My company sells cement. I know it doesn’t sound so sexy, but hey.” So here you have it, an ex-NFL player is selling cement and loves it. Sometimes the product that you are selling, providing, etc. doesn’t have to be something that you are passionate about. Sometimes the product just needs to be something that you believe in- does this cement solidify? (Of course it will- that’s a known fact about cement.) Can I be a great account manager for my clients to trust? Can I be competitive with my prices? Does the company treat their employees well? Sometimes the “yes” to those questions is enough to make you love your job.

So I’m here to say- don’t judge a book by its cover!! You may get an interview with a company that sells toilets. Think you are embarrassed to work at that company? You shouldn’t be- a toilet is a commodity that every household and business needs (aka there is $$ in this). If it’s a company that aligns with your personal values and the job itself fits what you want to do, well you should look more into it!! You don’t need to be passionate about toilets, you just need to believe that the toilets you sell are made well and work. So while you may rather be working for a glorified company like Nike (and it is still a great goal- keep working towards it!), don’t overlook companies that sell cement or toilets! Sometimes those companies check off everything on your wish list, minus the beloved product. You need to find a job that makes you happy. It’s easy to get distracted and concentrate solely on your initial perception of the company and the salary, but you need to dive in deeper. Look at the hours you will work, the company culture, the role you are filling, the growth opportunities, the coworkers you will be surrounded by, the benefits, etc. Know where you are willing to compromise. If you do all that, you just may surprise yourself and love a job you never dreamed of!

Emily Sullivan, Career Coach