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Resist trading career passions for higher paychecks

by Allison Begalman

According to The New York Times, 61 percent of American workers were satisfied with their jobs in 1987. A poll by Harris Interactive, Inc. indicates that today that number has dwindled to just 45 percent. This 16-percent drop in satisfaction may be the result of an increasingly competitive job market, which could lead potential wage earners to enter fields they consider more profitable, instead of pursuing their passions. This is a mistake. With college on the horizon, high school students should focus on studying and creating a career on something they love, rather than on a future paycheck.

In a New York Times article, “Job Satisfaction vs. a Big Paycheck,” David H. Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, said, “Generally, people flourish when they’re doing something they like and what they’re good at.”

A student dreaming of becoming an architect should not be daunted by a 10.6-percent unemployment rate in that field; switching to pharmacology might lead more easily to a job, but not to happiness. Shifting focus to architectural engineering, with only a 5.8 percent unemployment rate, will leave dreams intact. (For other alternatives, see the sidebar.)

In this economy, it pays to look for employment opportunities before college graduation. “I’ve chosen to pursue my passion at a school  renowned both for its       fashion program and its co-op   program, which gives students paid work experience and leads to jobs after graduation,” said senior Keira Wiggins.

“Figure out what you like to do and research how you could turn that into a successful career,” said senior Justin Scholar, who will study filmmaking, a  notoriously difficult and competitive field.

We all have a choice: economic security in a career we dislike, or satisfaction in a job we love. “Some people prefer to be safe rather than sorry, but I think it’s best to follow your heart,” said Wiggins.

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