Friday, August 1, 2008

Of money and happiness

pri-or-i-ty: (adjective) highest or higher in importance, rank, privilege, etc.

I've noticed something interesting lately. My mom and I talk about my job/work/career path regularly and she is constantly trying to get me to enter the public sector. (Aside: my mom works for the federal government.) She thinks I should gun for the government - provincial or federal - because the money is generally pretty good. So I've looked, just to see what's available and if there is anything that interests me. Thing is, pretty much all the government jobs I find I'm qualified for fall within the "administrative" category.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with working in an administrative capacity. This doesn't always mean you're stuck answering phones and ordering Post-It notes. Depending on the job and the part of government, an admin job could be interesting and fulfilling and enjoyable. And, being government, much better paying than private sector. Thing is, though, I've made choices in post-secondary schooling that would hopefully allow me to find a career in an industry I love, doing something I love, and (ideally) making a good paycheque. Based on my schooling, I have decided that publishing is where I want to be. I love books and magazines and reading and words and all the stuff that goes into getting those words onto those pages that we can read. And I want to work in this world.

Of course, I did happen to choose an industry that can pay rather lower than one would wish, but I've done okay thus far finding gainful (enough) employment. And I continue to look and I am trying - really I am! - to get to a place where I can start to really build my career. My mom, though, wants what any mother wants for her child: a job that pays oodles. I would love to make some of those government admin salaries I see on the job boards, but only if said salary is attached to a job I really want to be doing.

And there lies the difference between my mother and I, at least where our respective careers are concerned. My mom has done her time in the workforce, she has had her share of jobs around raising two children and she is now at a place where she wants security and a steady paycheque that will (hopefully) increase year after year. I, on the other hand, am really just starting out and I'm still looking for that place where I can build a career. Maybe I'll never find that company I can spend 30 years at (does anyone even do that any more?) but at least I have found an industry I want to spend the next 30+ years working in. Even if that means working for less than my mother would like.

The trouble comes when I try to explain to my mom why I don't want that admin job with the province. I've worked too many jobs that make me miserable to be willing to risk continued misery for more money. She just wants to see me do well. Sometimes, doing well can't be measured by how much you take home each month.

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