All jobs are not created equal

More stories from Collin Okim

As students in high school, we are all building skills to thrive in the future. A little bit further down the road we will leave the education route and enter the vast working world. While most of us will be hired at a job, not all jobs are created equal.

While both the words “job” and “career” are used to reference ways of earning money, they are very different. Jobs are more short term and just used to earn a paycheck. However, careers are long term, and each employment opportunity is used to build skills towards progress to higher paying ones.

Jobs are just resume fillers, not typically related to the future career you desire. Employers will often not care about some high school job you had because it doesn’t show many skills that are appealing. For example, a hospital hiring a doctor will not care about a Chipotle job that they might’ve had.

Conversely, a career is a set of related employment opportunities that build a resume. Careers are not just used for the paychecks. For example, an internship could be very valuable despite not being paid well. An internship is an integral part of finding future opportunities in the field you are interested in. While these lower level employment opportunities may include working long hours for little pay, they can lead to bigger paychecks, promotion chances and, most importantly, forging important connections.

Another key distinction between a job and career is the ability for growth. Jobs typically have limited opportunities for growth. You may get promoted to manager, but that is the furthest that job will take you. On the other hand, careers allow for a lot of growth. Careers provide optimal opportunities for promotions and more prestigious employment.
Both a career and a job build marketable skills. Jobs build foundational skills like time management, work ethic and communication. Careers build more refined skills that are necessary for future employment. For example, working as a tax associate introduces someone to complex tax laws. This experience can be a stepping stone to becoming a chief financial officer.

Having a job has benefits. There is nothing wrong with having a job, since it gets the bills paid or gives you some extra spending money. However, these are all short term needs; building a long term career can promote a higher sense of purpose and lifelong learning.

Developing a career takes a lot of time and effort, but it has many benefits in the long run. If you want to start a career, begin asking yourself how your current actions will affect your future. What skills are you learning to promote future success? What connections are you making to further your success? These types of questions will help you take the first steps on your career path.