back to xpand blog

Young People and Jobs

13th Feb 2015


I want to start this by sharing a story from my recent travels. Now before you start rolling your eyes, don’t worry. This is not some pretentious post about how ‘learning more about the world helped me learn more about myself’.  No, instead it is the simple story of someone I met over in Norway. He was a 21 year old ‘normal bloke’, working in a kindergarten. When I asked him how it was working there he paused, then openly and honestly told me how much he absolutely loved it. His work had inspired him to one day open up his own kindergarten and I was simply amazed. Not only did his plan sound so incredible but he was one of the few people my age who I have talked to with a genuine love of what they do. 

I am not sure what causes this but it does seem remarkably common in people just out of university to despise what they do. Maybe it’s a generational thing where people whinge for fun about how much their job sucks and how their manager resembled a character from ‘Horrible Bosses’. Perhaps we think it’s not cool to enjoy what we do? Maybe we somehow think that saying we hate the job we do for most of our lives is cooler than admitting that what we do for 40+ hours a week is actually fun. If this is the case then a serious attitude shift is required.

When I think of all of the reasons why you might not enjoy your job it comes down to two broad factors. Firstly you might not have any interest in what you do. You might think that IT Sales or residential Real Estate is something you couldn’t care less about. If this is you then maybe you should ask your boss what impact your job actually has on other people. Perhaps by seeing the end result of what you do, you will develop a passion and interest for your career path and the job satisfaction will follow.  

The other reason for you to not enjoy what you do is the people you work with. Although in my working history I’ve never had this problem, I do understand it can be a big issue. A workplace can be full of people you don’t quite understand or get along with, cliques or groups which are very exclusive and this can be difficult to work amongst. If you’re in this situation I will ask you this. How far have you gone to get to know your colleagues? In the UK (and much better) version of ‘The Office’, there is a quote which has resonated with me throughout my career. It talks about how those you work with are the people you will spend most of your adult life with, and they are a random bunch you have limited choice in. So take the time and get to know them. The time you invest in this could be one of the greatest investments you ever make. You never know what secret similarities or connections you could find in those you once thought were polar opposite to you. All of a sudden your days at work can be spent with people you consider friends, something that is never to be underestimated. It is no different to the first day of school, put yourself out there and the rewards will follow. 

One of the biggest questions to come out of this is 'why do people stay in the jobs they dislike?' I believe that many people, young and old, feel as though they have to be on 'the right path' and put in the hard yards before it gets better. This is where I come back to the man at the start. Pre school education is one of the most important roles in shaping a child's life, but to many, it would not be considered the right path. But what is the right path anyway? Truth is, there is no such thing. Everyone should take the job that makes them happy and engaged. Instead of thinking about how much better things will be in 20 years, why not enjoy yourself now, doing something you love and are proud to tell people about. 

We live in the YOLO generation. Stupid hashtags aside, there is a sound logic to this phrase. We only get one life, one chance. So don't waste a day working somewhere where you have no passion for what you do or are always clock watching to Friday afternoon. Your life is far too valuable for that. Do what you love, with people you love, and you'll never work a day in your life.