Friday was pay day – a very exciting day for Rayna and myself as it was our first here at Elon! As usual, this little moment got us thinking – it’s really not about the money at all, particularly in our case.
As fellows we accepted these positions knowing we wouldn’t make the big bucks but that was okay. As the old saying goes money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s merely a piece of the puzzle. SHRM, the Society of Human Resource Managers, reported on the top factors that contribute to job satisfaction in the 2012 edition of their annual survey of employee job satisfaction and engagement:
Top 5 Factors Affecting Job Satisfaction
- Opportunities to use skills and abilities (63 percent)
- Job security (61 percent)
- Compensation/pay (60 percent)
- Communication between employees and senior management (57 percent)
- Relationship with immediate supervisor (54 percent)
As you can see there is more that goes into selecting a career than how much you can get paid. We decided that the opportunity to learn and grow in a supportive community outweighed anything else. For us, the fellowship is a perfect start to our careers. We will have the chance to test out our own abilities and skills while learning from and collaborating with well-established and talented professionals in a field we are truly passionate about. We are very blessed to wake up in the morning with the desire to get to work and help students. It is typical for us to have conversations about ‘work stuff’ at dinner and on the weekends – it never feels like a burden.
In a NY Times article, Daniel H. Pink, author of “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” stated that deciding on careers based on the highest salaries “tends to be a fool’s game.” You may notice that accounting majors all have job offers with decent salaries lined up for May but you’re not really into accounting. “Chances are you’re not going to be very good at accounting, and your salary will reflect that, he said. Generally, people flourish when they’re doing something they like and what they’re good at.”
Strive to find something that invigorates you. It may not be easy to find so pay attention to the small things each day that energize and excite you. This is where you should invest more of your time, so keep note of those things. Decide on whatever it is you want to learn more about and pursue it, no matter the costs. Figure out what you value – is it the big pay check or is it something more? Yes, money matters and no you may not love every aspect of every job you’ll ever have but it’s important that you have a balance of the two. So don’t discount opportunities such as internship and of course fellowships that serve to increase your skills and knowledge, particularly in areas you feel passionate about, even if it doesn’t come with a nice big paycheck.