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Career Advice

Take Your Pick: Experience vs High Salary

By Paulo Vargas on May 5, 2015

It's that time of year again when college graduates take off their togas, put down their diplomas and exchange them for a blazer and briefcase—freshman season for the workforce.

In a playing field where each spot is precious, you have to ask yourself where your priorities lay: earning money or gaining experience. Finding a job you like is different from finding a job that can support you. A job that will provide for you financially might not give you the skills or experience that you seek for the future. Sometimes you'll be lucky and come across a job that is both but it's a rare find, that perfect job.

Take it from Maan and Edgar who have taken on two very different paths.

Maan: Experience

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Journalism graduate Maan Tejade had trouble landing her first job. She went from interview to interview, nothing latching on to her. But then she found it—editorial assistant for a publishing company. From the bottom up, she did the grunt work and menial tasks until she was assigned a beat was allowed to cover events. "It's been my dream to work as a journalist ever since I can remember," Maan says. She's learned the value of working your way up at her job. She likes the work enough but laments the low salary.

Long hours and a low salary, that's the hand she's been dealt. However, Maan has decided to persevere in her career, knowing that she will reap the benefits in two, three, four, maybe five years' time and hopefully those benefits will lead to her dream career in journalism. "Maybe not every 15th or 30th of the month," Maan says, laughing.

Edgar: High Salary

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Meet Edgar Caballes. For a decade, he's worked his way up to a desk editor position for a big local newspaper. It's gotten him some traction and now he's being offered an e-mail support specialist job for a big BPO. "The salary is significantly larger and the work is easy," Edgar says. "It's not my dream job but it pays my bills and then some."

When asked why he left his former job, he said that it was a combination of many factors. Ultimately, it was a practical decision. "I'm a newlywed and my wife and I are expecting our first child," he explains. Edgar adds that he wants to move up the BPO career ladder and is in line to become a team lead.

For Maan and Edgar, their motivations are a combination of circumstance and priorities. Maan, while not earning a lot, wants to hustle and endure the first couple of years in order to earn her dream career. Edgar, on the other hand, is earning more than enough but the work isn't particularly fulfilling.

Why not both?

You can't decide you want both and just expect it to come your way. Sure, some people won't settle for less, but not everyone has the luxury of time to find both. Ask people who have spent more than a few years in the workforce. They will tell you stories of different career paths and a series of odd jobs with salaries that fluctuated.

If you want to earn big, maybe you should accept that high-paying job with the cookie cutter job description. If you want to explore and gain experience, that small startup with an interesting story looks like a good choice. Before you sign any contracts, decide what your long term goal is. Assess your current situation and move forward based on the priorities you set for yourself.

What are you waiting for, fresh grads?

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