"Do I stay or do I go" was a constant debate for this young professional. He was with a great company, learning a lot, but something was missing – the passion.
Kevin, Young Professional, 27 Years Old
I graduated from Clemson a few years ago and was working for a large technology company in Boston, MA. The pay was great, the training was good, and I enjoyed working with my team, but there was a nagging feeling that something was missing. Compared to some of my peers, I was ahead of the class regarding the job I had landed, particularly since some were still searching to find one, so all things considered I should have been thrilled. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling.
After much of a debate in my mind, I finally reached out to one of my mentors and confessed my internal struggle with my career and how I almost felt ungrateful when I should have been thankful to have a job. About 30 minutes into me rambling on about all the pros and cons of my current job and position, my mentor finally stopped me and said “Kevin, what’s your “purpose?”
What’s my purpose? What kind of question was that? I looked at him puzzled for a little bit then he finally said “You have to figure out what you’re passionate about. No amount of money, training, people or otherwise will make you love your job if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing. So, take a step back and try to figure out where your passion lies and what your purpose should be.”
Taking his words to heart, I first started to realize what I wasn’t passionate about – and that was sales, my current role. Sure, there were elements that I enjoyed, but the work didn’t seem meaningful enough to me. What I really enjoyed was working with numbers and challenging puzzles to figure things out. So, what now?
I started talking to others in my networking circle about what I thought I was passionate about, but how I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant from my career. After a few discussions, one of my connections suggested I consider an analyst position for an investment banking firm in Washington, DC. So, I figured, why not? It wouldn’t hurt to have the discussion, right?
Many interviews, discussions, and tests later, I was offered the position. It was about $10,000 less than what I was currently making, but the career advancement opportunities seemed much more significant. At a crossroads of whether or not to ultimately pick up my life and move on a hunch that this job was more aligned with passion, I decided to go with it and take the position.
Fast forward two years later, I’m making almost double the salary of where I started, have already advanced in my position and I’m learning more than I could ever imagine. Most importantly, I love what I do and that “something is missing” feeling is completely gone.
My lesson learned: Uncertainty is okay when you’re just getting started. Ask for advice. And when you’re standing at a crossroads, sometimes you have to be willing to take two steps back to end up on the right path.