This topic really hit a nerve with me today as I read a tweet about someone with a daughter that is undecided on her career path but knows she wants to make $100,000 a year and they recommended her to investigate the agriculture sector. The range of jobs and the salaries are tremendous in agriculture for sure.
I always grew up with plenty of food on the table, clean clothes, a bed, and roof over my head, while living comfortably. But my parents combined have never made $100,000 a year in their lives.
But when I started my career, I never imagined I would make 6-figures. In my first job with a B.S. degree, I was making $22,500 a year and my student debt neared $40,000. I am not going to lie, but I did struggle and did not manage my expectations and finances properly in my first job. Later, I took a job with The University of Arkansas that included a free house and nearly free tuition. But to work full time and complete a MS and PhD I had to essentially work 2 jobs with a salary less than $30,000. Do you think I made 6-figures after graduation? Nope! However, since I started my career, my salary topped more than 5x that of my first job, but that was because of education and experience.
Why should you care?
Because there are plenty of jobs that can provide you with a comfortable income and be your dream job that has just the right amount of work-life balance for you.
In our kick-off session of Coffee & Careers, Dan Simmons with Continental Search went through several items to consider before applying for a job. Some of these items were location, travel, team dynamics, benefits, etc. He gave a great example of someone going to school to be a Dairy nutritionist but only wanted to live in the state of North Carolina, which is not considered a Dairy state. Finding a dream job and salary was going to be a challenge for this individual.
What matters most
Make a list of what matters most, and I highly recommend reevaluating this list every year or two as life changes. Take it from me, I loved traveling the world and meeting new people and sharing my passion for the swine industry. But in time that changed, I loved my family and new baby more. They needed me more at home and ultimately, I learned I do not really enjoy living out of a suitcase. I struggled again in the transition, but more so regarding where I fit in the industry and can I find a role to fulfil my career aspirations and my family needs. I was able to find that right balance but caution you that you may have to sacrifice something in the beginning to get to that happy place in the end. Being home most nights far outweighs that 6-figure income I was making, while I still have a comfortable lifestyle and plenty of presents under the tree for my son again this year.
The end of the year is always a great time to reflect on what went right or wrong and then to plan for the next year. Take some time and sit down and make a list of things you want or do not want in your dream job. Rank them 1-3, with 1 being no-compromise, 2 being nice but not urgent, and 3 being an added perk. Keep it to yourself or send it to me, as I am curious to fill in potential hiring managers on what the new generation of professionals want in their first jobs.