The past couple of days, I’ve been carefully evaluating where I see my career headed long-term. While many people are torn between the career that makes money and the career they are “passionate” about, I have another dilemma.
Do what I’m good at (talent), or do what I’m excited about (passion)?
Here’s the thing – I’ve always been good at marketing and communications. I did it when I was a high schooler looking to earn some extra money. I did it in college. I’ve interned in it, worked full-time in it. And the thing that I can say confidently is this -
PR/marketing is easy.
Deciding on proper strategy may take time, but it is by no means a quantum physics task. Execution on an integrated marketing plan is even easier (no thinking, just doing + monitoring + reporting). In all honesty, a high school graduate could enter the PR world and do just fine (it’s just too bureaucratic to admit it).
So yes, that is how I managed to sweet-talk my way into three PR positions without having ever set foot in a PR/marketing/communications/advertising classroom. Didn’t get a major in it. Never took a class in it. Just did some research on the internet and used common sense.
It’s not like I don’t like PR and marketing. I do (or else I wouldn’t have done so many jobs in it). But when you put them in a heavily corporate setting, it ruins the point of the profession. PR is reactionary – it doesn’t do well against corporate red tape. Marketing is best done when supplemented with quantitative analysis, but so many companies are adamant about touting “traditional” marketing methods instead of paying attention to their data. As such, my workstyle in PR/marketing isn’t really suited for a job – it’s better suited as a hobby.
So what am I passionate about? I love advising other people. So much that at some point I really wanted to be a counselor (and might still do it part-time in the future). I also really love personal finance. It’s not so much that I enjoy goodwill as I like helping people solve problems they can’t solve themselves. I’m honestly considering switching into private banking after a b-school stint.
But would I be good at the job? I don’t know – and I can’t possibly know – until I try. I could always fall back onto PR/marketing but even that is a questionable path. Neither will net me very much money, unlike the investment banking and management consulting and software development gigs my classmates chose.
But in the end, does the money really matter if you gain some sort of personal satisfaction from the job? Even a “lowly state school” student who starts off with $40k working as a managerial assistant can quickly increase his salary to a good $80k after a few years; I’ve seen it happen. (And $80k in Texas as a single-member household is nothing to scoff at!)
Lots of questions, still no answers.