Is this job good enough for you?

I’m going to continue providing advice shared with me by my Facebook friends, augmented by my commentary. Today’s entry comes from Molly Rushing, who wrote

“Best advice I ever received: no job is beneath you. Whatever job you’re given, do it to the best of your ability and do not think, just because you went to college, you’re entitled to something better.”

This is actually somewhat similar to what I said on 11/19/13, when I wrote about some advice given in a sermon, but my advice didn’t include the part about entitlement, which is something that you may want to think about. An article in The Daily Mail, a U.K. newspaper, reported that current American students have higher levels of self-esteem than previous groups—and they’ve been conducting the same survey since 1966. Along with that higher self-esteem can come a sense of entitlement, and it may make sense that if students think they have better leadership skills and a greater drive to achieve (which are two of the criteria measured by the survey), then they may also think that they will have an easier time finding a job. . .and that they should only accept a job that matches their academic credentials.

My experience doesn’t line up with the conclusions of this survey, but my evidence is anecdotal. First of all, when I ask students in my class to think of a trait that they think they lack and would like to develop, many of them choose “self assurance.” In written assignments about this topic, they regularly talk about not having much confidence in their abilities. I realize I have a limited sample, but it certainly is the opposite of what the Daily Mail survey suggests.

Secondly, my students are often very fearful of what will happen after college. This fall I have talked about my book with students in more than a dozen different groups on my campus—more than 300 students in all—and I routinely get questions that demonstrate a lack of confidence about their prospects for starting a career or even finding any job after graduation.

So take Molly’s advice to heart: Look for a job that challenges you and supports your goals and passions, but also realize that you may have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Keep in mind that my first job after college was as a secretary. (I graduated from college at another  time when the U.S. economy was terrible.) My job as a secretary paid the bills, I learned a lot, and I was able to work my way into better positions within the organization by doing each job I was assigned to the best of my ability. (And, for the record, I was an excellent secretary!) My final piece of advice on this topic (for now) is, Don’t settle for a job where you’re expected to stay at the bottom, but don’t turn down a job without giving it your consideration if it’s a starting point for something better.