Passion Or Paycheck? The Career Advice You Need To Hear

Disclaimer: Although this piece will be focused on the job seeker, the advice given can be applied in all aspects of life. In the end, choose passion.

About a year ago, I learned one of the most important lessons of my life. Oddly enough, I didn’t experience it firsthand, rather I learned by helping a friend.

In late February of last year, I had a dear friend reach out to me with a job dilemma. She had to decide between a set job offer with a start-up business for a position that could grow to CMO material, or an internship that she was clearly passionate about with a well known American retail chain, that she had not yet been offered. What a situation to be in.

At that time, I was in a position that bored the living hell out of me. I wasn’t passionate about it, I wasn’t driven and I just went through the motions. So, when she emailed me her dilemma, I couldn’t help but use my experience to benefit her decision. My response was as follows:

“I know you’re nervous because they are internships, not guaranteed as of right now and not guaranteed a job afterward but what’s the harm in trying? Friend, you’re 22 years old… I know the older generations used to get jobs immediately out of college, but things have changed. You’re still so young. There is no need to have a set job immediately after college, not if it’s not something you’re extremely passionate about. Even if you get the internship but not the job afterward, think of all the experience and growth you will gain from it that you can apply to another job you’re passionate about.

Life is too short to spend time working on something you’re not passionate about. I know that’s cliche but it’s true.

So, in the end, my vote is for passion.

I am proud to say, my dear friend chose passion. She waited for the internship, was offered it, accepted and is now a full time employee for the well known American retail store, otherwise known as Finish Line, where she has the email above printed out on her cubicle wall.

Sidenote: Her decision was even mentioned during our Dean’s graduation speech last May (she was featured as a student role model and I was mentioned for giving some gnarly advice).

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To this day, this event has always shown me what it means to pick passion over paycheck. And a year later, I was also faced with a similar decision.

Last week, I was offered a comfortable job with a great organization, one where I would have PTO out the wazoo and projects that take minimal brain power. On the other hand, I was waiting for a call back from a position where I would work with inner city schools and students who needed my help, something I was passionate about. Now I had a dilemma.

I came to the realization I needed to follow my own advice, I needed to vote for passion again. So, I did. A day later I was offered the job, further strengthening my belief that when you choose passion things will work out.

Sidenote: My dear friend from above was the one who forwarded me the position I accepted. Funny how that works.

Too often, our days in life are spent doing things that we have little to no passion about. Job seekers, I urge you to find a career that you get excited for on a daily basis. Every job will feel like a job some days but as long as there is passion, these days will be minimal. And if you’re worried about the paycheck, know that when passion is put forth, payment will follow, even if it starts out as an internship.

I guarantee you will make a difference in this world if you chase your passions rather than the money.


Maggie Hamilton

Contributor, Ball State University Major: Public Relations Her heart belongs to: The act of kindness. To putting others before ourselves. To acting in selflessness. Her guilty pleasures: pillow pets, french fries and nail polish

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