I started my very first job when I was sixteen years old (thanks sis for pushing me to get my work permit!) #TeamPinkberry
Working at an early age taught me the hustle and bustle of hard work: commitment, time management, work ethics, customer service… you know, the good stuff. Since then, I’ve always juggled between school, extracurriculars, working, homework, quality time with friends and family, etc.
Throughout the years, I’ve accumulated experiences in a multitude of industries. At every opportunity that arose, I said YES because I wanted to grow and learn, no matter how “infinitesimal” the title appeared to be. I mean, did making sure a medium-sized yogurt weighed 8 ounces (not more, not less) or my (very short) experience at BuzzFeed centered around celebrity gossip contribute to my aspirations working in healthcare? Or what about the time I called residential households confirming their vote for a specific political candidate? Probably not, but while these jobs did not build on MY social capital, they still added to my realm of knowledge.
From food to entertainment to politics, I’ve had my fair share of titles that bore little relevance to my desired career, yet they all played an instrumental role in who I’ve become. It taught me a great deal of what it means to be cultural competent or a team player, how to be more attentive to details, and why it is important to follow certain standards – skills universal in every job.
I’m writing this because I know the job search is a war zone out there. Everyone’s fighting a battle somehow. And I don’t blame anyone struggling or those close to giving up to find a job within their prospective fields. It’s like we need experience for the job, but we also need the job for the experience. Pretty much a Catch-22. Or what about that entry-level job that pays less than your current job as… idk, a barista? Do you stick around for the pay or do you move forward losing $$?
If you’re currently working a job that has little relevance to your future line of work, do not fret. Every job has its perks and is bound to shape you in some way. No matter how many years you find yourself working a job lacking passion, just know that you are gaining something in the long run. Sometimes, it is never truly clear-cut.
While we’re on that job search though, try finding a side gig relevant to where you’d like to be. While I understand the money struggle, commit to a part-time internship or volunteer work just to allocate some hours and build your social capital for the future. Every job counts, trust me – paid or unpaid. This would not only teach you a new skill or two, but it would also serve as a reminder as to why you chose this route in the first place.
Personally, I’ve sacrificed paying jobs for non-paying jobs so many times. I remember giving up my pharmacy job (32+ hrs/week with school) just to go volunteer for 2 weeks in Nicaragua since they weren’t able to give me that time off as a part-time employee. Overlooking my bills (maybe quite carelessly), I took a leap of faith and hopped on a flight to Nicaragua without a care in the world for what’s to come after.
To this day, I have no regrets because volunteering in Nicaragua was an experience I could not put a price on. It reaffirmed my passion for serving in global health, something I would not have gotten had I chosen to stay. Through that experience, I learned what it meant to be a global citizen, something I was able to proudly discuss in my personal statements for graduate school.
Now, I’m not saying go quit your day job and start working solely on your passion. What I’m saying is pay attention in building YOUR capital, but don’t be afraid to lose a couple of paid hours to something else worth more figuratively. We spend so much time worrying about our day jobs and financial security that when we lose sight of our goals, in a way we lose a part of who we are and who we aspire to be.
So, start by saying YES to any opportunity that comes your way. Be cautious financially, but don’t let that be a hindrance to pursuing your goals on the side. You never know what door you might open, so start by saying YES.