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Career vs money -- which is better?
July 07, 2005
arti's son Rohan has got a diploma in hotel management from a premier institute. As a hotel management trainee, he was offered a starting salary of Rs 6,000 per month.
He turned down the offer and joined a call centre which offered him Rs 8,000 per month.
What happens when, as in Rohan's case, money -- in fact immediate money -- is the only basis of comparison? Is it wrong to be motivated by money?
Absolutely not -- but it may not be right to be motivated by money alone. And it is certainly not advisable to sacrifice what could be a lucrative career for something that is more or less a dead-end job. Making such a choice may not lead to the kind of career you would have had if you pursued your original profession.
The fact is, you have invested a lot of time and energy, not to mention your parents' money, in doing a professional course.
As in Rohan's case, many such jobs start at the trainee level and often give you a meagre stipend. Don't forget, though, you are getting valuable training that will be the foundation for your future.
If Rohan had joined the hospitality industry, what would his scope have been? If all went well, he could have earned almost twice as much within a couple of years. If he was good enough, he could have become a department head and, maybe, the general manager of a hotel or an independent hotelier one day.
What are his chances? I would say very good, given the fact that he has done his hotel management from a prestigious institute. He is competing with other hotel management graduates who, I can assure you, are far less in number than call centres representatives.
He has specialised training and would have developed skill and ability in a sector which will grow as long as people continue to travel and eat.
Compare career graphs
In almost every walk of life, there are choices we make -- both long term and short term. In most cases, we may have to make sacrifices in the short term to enhance our long term prospects.
For example, why do we have to study, though playing truant and whiling away our time may seem more enjoyable? We have to sacrifice our immediate pleasures in order to get an education to make our future more secure.
Why do we save money when spending it all would be wonderful? Again, the short term sacrifice is to enhance our life in the future. Looking for instant gratification in everything may feel great today, but who will take care of your tomorrows?
The question then begs an answer: When is a bird in hand not worth two in the bush?
The answer to that is simple.
Chart out what a reasonable graph of your growth, in terms of responsibility and salary, will be in the next five to seven years in each job. You can easily get some data by asking people who have worked in the sector for a while.
Also, map out your goals for the next 10 years.
Now, compare the two graphs. Which one looks better? Which one brings you closer to your long-term goal?
How to chalk out your career goals
When you are young, many opportunities knock at your door. It may be in the form of an admission to a post-graduate/ MBA course or a traineeship in a profession that is career-oriented.
These opportunities will not always be around. So, before you let them go just for a little more money, make sure you are clear on on the following:
i. What are the current and future prospects of the job?
ii. How long will you take to make up the difference in salary?
Some businesses start you on a higher salary, but the salaries do not grow very fast.
Others start low, but growth is faster. That may mean you will quickly surpass the salary that looks lucrative now.
For example, in Rohan's case, he is losing Rs 2,000 a month if he joins a hotel. However, if his salary goes to Rs 10,000 from Rs 6,000 in the hotel, he would have made up the lost salary in the next year. From then on, he will be earning more than what he would in the call centre job.
iii. What options do you have if you lose the job or want to change it?
Does your job train you for other things?
iv. Is the future of the sector bright?
v. Do you have special skills that will enhance your prospects in this sector?
vi. Does this job lead you closer to the long-term career aim you have set for yourself?
vii. How much are you going to enjoy the job now and in the future?
Will you continue to enjoy this job five years from now or get bored?
There is no rule that says you cannot change what you are doing. If you have made the wrong career choice, correct it. Change your profession only if this seems the right thing to do in the long term.
Remember, there are times when a bird in hand may not actually be better than two in the bush.
Part I: Choosing a career? Think twice
Shilpa Sheth is a director at Shilputsi Consultants. She has an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and has been in the field of human resource management for the last 21 years. She is on the guest faculty at various b-schools, co-authors a column in a premier business magazine and has anchored the HR management television show, Managing People.