We’ve all been there, or will be there one day — we have to graduate out of the full-time student life.
Armed with a paper certification in one hand, skills engrained in mind, and a debt to pay off in the other hand, I was forced into the adulting world last December.
It felt surreal. One moment you’re writing your umpteenth essay, and the next moment you’re scrolling through available job listings on LinkedIn and the likes.
But like many others, I’ve had the dilemma of what my first job should be.
Should I go for practicality or passion?
When I first joined Vulcan Post earlier this month, I asked some colleagues why they decided to work at GRVTY Media. Out of the multiple responses I could get from the few working in the office, one stood out to me.
“I want to try something different and hustle while I’m still young.”
For most in this growing media company, passion drove them to the company. But this can’t be said for everyone.
Some are just blessed with the opportunity of extravagant starting pays exceeding their peers, but at the cost of doing tasks that are not tied to their passion. Others may be offered their dream job, but with a cut of their ideal salary that matches their lifestyle.
Often, we are forced to pit passion and practicality against each other because not all passion equals to pay check. Other times, passion may come at a cost that doesn’t allow for it to be a part of our long-term career path.
There is also the added pressure to earn enough to maintain a certain standard of lifestyle, or find a job that is reputable enough to those around.
Take the upcoming Chinese New Year festive season as an example. One age-old question asked yearly is “What are you working as now?”, followed by a comparison to another similarly-aged relative.
Such questions asked during any family gathering, not just Chinese New Year, is a stark reminder that certain jobs are seen as more “preferable” than others. To upkeep any reputation related to a job, some may sacrifice their passions as well.
Does it suit me, though?
If you’re like me, you might have a passion that is not yet fully defined. I, for one, know I want to pursue journalism. But what kind of journalism do I want to pursue — that’s a tricky question I still do not have the answer for.
It then comes down to parts of the job that suits your personality and priorities best.
Do you prefer a strict 9-to-5 job with mentorship programmes, an iron rice bowl and a decent-sized pantry? A well-known multinational corporation that promises amazing staff discounts and benefits galore? Or an up-and-coming startup where “the hustle life chooses you” and independence is a necessity?
Are you someone that craves a fun-filled passion-driven work culture, or are you comfortable with one that is hierarchy-driven?
How about the remuneration? Does it match the work at hand, or for the paper qualification you hold?
But it’s not just about finding a job that fits our wants, it’s also about finding a job that wants us.
As a fresh graduate, my biggest stressor was finding a job description that didn’t require ‘x’ amount of years of experience — something that we don’t really possess sans a few short-lived internship experiences.
The feeling of inadequacy alongside these other considerations makes the job hunting process even more stressful. After all, who doesn’t want to be rejected after searching high and low for an ideal job?
Signing on the dotted line
Beyond suitability, no company is expecting to get a “perfect” candidate from someone who has never signed a full-time contract. Yet, why are we so hard up on finding the “perfect” first job?
A lot of this stress comes from the fact we want to start right, especially since it is the “first” defining move into adulthood.
The underlying fear of rejection from our ideal starting job eats into us, and the stress of meeting job requirements that may be hard to attain scares us.
Coupled with the stress of balancing our wants, passions, and practicality of the job we apply for, the first job is a looming weight over our shoulders.
However, while these considerations are necessary to pave our career roadmap, we shouldn’t be too hard up about it.
After all, our first job isn’t the end-all. There are many opportunities in the future and new doors may open with increased work experience that can allow us to pursue both passion and practicality.
Plus, our ideals of a good job may change over time as our life priorities switch. Rejections are also part of life that we need to learn to better accept. It is still better to try applying, than to be unable to even qualify for a role by not applying.
When my colleague said she wanted to push herself while she is young, she was also acknowledging that the future may hold other plans for her.
So, if you’re stressing about finding your first job, take it easy and don’t stress about it too much — find something that satisfies you the most. Be it money in the bank, fulfilment through your work or a balance of both, just remember that your choice is not the end-all.
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