The job market is changing. Aileen McGrath questions whether we still must choose between our passions and financial prospects.
SHOULD we live to work or work to live? Should our choice of course reflect our passion or our career prospects? Very few have the luxury of the two coinciding and so ensues the age old battle of whether to follow your mind over your heart.
Straying from the more traditional view, this topic truly is a millennial debate. The majority of our parents were raised to go out and earn. Often to the detriment of personal fulfilment, the priority was to provide for the family. After countless generations being brought up with this practice instilled within them, the Celtic Tiger brought with it a newfound sense of comfort and stability.
The question then became: would millennials opt to continue to strive for the lifestyle they had become accustomed to, or would they be the first generation to use stories of their parents’ hardships as compasses to guide them away from precedent?
It is undeniable that this shift has come alongside a wider acceptance of studying more creative subjects, as well as a heightened appreciation for the arts and their career prospects. With the astronomical rise of the internet and social media, the scope and very nature of traditional careers are broadening. The result of this is that there appears to be less of a risk involved in following your dreams and, in turn, success in areas that traditionally weren’t viewed as substantial is more attainable than ever before.
“Qualifications almost come second to this with a fast paced and ever changing job market constantly altering the applicability of your skillset.”
A revolutionary example of this can be seen in the likes of those with careers as full-time YouTubers. While the idea of someone making a living off posting a video of their holiday to Spain may seem foreign and incomprehensible to older generations, this just shows the extent to which jobs change with evolution of technology. Not only are these innovators following their passion they are also making a healthy living from it. Forbes recently named gamer PewDiePie as the highest paid YouTuber of 2016, with a $15 million pay cheque to prove it.
Networking has always played an important role in cultivating a career and today’s world is no exception. In reality, who you know and how you market yourself is more valuable than ever before. Qualifications almost come second to this with a fast paced and ever-changing job market constantly altering the applicability of your skillset.
“While the significance of financial profit obviously bears substantial weight, it is not the be all and end all.”
With heightened diversity in the workplace, many employers will look for employees who know how to make themselves adaptable and flexible, not just because of but also in spite of their experience. This idea of company culture outranking a more outdated work ethic has been identified by Forbes as one of the main methods companies are now using to lure in talent. It would certainly appear as though a passion for what you are doing would be in line with this method of forward-thinking.
In an article posted by the Guardian, a winning argument for a focus on career prospects is that your college education should be seen as an investment for which you need a return. However, this is only really taking into account financial profit and, more objectively, success.
Does this investment at all consider mental health, investment in self-care or laying down the foundations for a happy and rewarding life, regardless of career or the earning potentials attached to it? While the significance of financial profit obviously bears substantial weight, it is not the be all and end all. As the cliché goes: money can’t buy happiness.
Let’s consider the facts. A study conducted on the participation of mature students in Irish higher education rose substantially from 1998 to 2011. Mature students went from being a meagre 4.5% of part-time undergraduates to being a colossal 92%. It could be argued that an explanation for this sizeable jump could only be the desires of older generations to now return to college to follow passions they neglected in favour of a so-called sustainable and steady career. Perhaps we are only now beginning to see that what used to measure success is no longer the same, and this rigid view should not hold us back from doing what we love.
Ultimately, success is attainable through hard work, drive, desire, and passion. Once this translates into your work, no matter what field, more times than not you will achieve this. Of course it would be highly idealistic to assume that everyone will end up with the ideal situation of both passion along with a shed load of money. However, the outcome that can be drawn from the above is that there is no better time than the present to take this risk. As the Bible says: “for what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”