Choosing a balance between passion and pocketbook

Story written by Lauren Frias.

COLUMBIA – When choosing a career after graduation, many people have to find a balance between their passion and their pocketbook. Some choose in favor of their passion, while others opt for financial stability.

Missouri resident Nickie Dedrick, an employee of the MU Hospital, said she went into a career that she didn’t initially major in during college. With a bachelor’s degree in archaeology, Dedrick said she happened upon her hospital job when she couldn’t find any open positions in her desired profession.

“I tried to look around at the museums, but there weren’t a whole lot of job openings available when I graduated, so I didn’t end up going that route,” Dedrick said.

Dedrick said that she originally had a plan to become an archaeologist and attend excavation digs, but she had to settle for a more stable career. Originally an insurance verifier for the hospital, she transferred to her current position as reimbursement assistant after six years. Because of her dedication to her hospital job, her passion for archaeology developed into a side interest.

“I don’t do too much with archeology,” she said. “Now, its kind of more of a hobby and interest of mine, so I have no future plans for it.”

Dedrick admits that sometimes she considers going back to archaeology, but she wouldn’t want to relocate her family. In the midst of the circumstances, Dedrick said she chose her hospital job for the income, not passion.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans in the workforce said they would take a lower-paying job involving their passion over their current job that offers more financial stability, according to a 2013 study by Philips Work/Life. 

Missouri resident Christy Martin is among those in the 68 percent of Americans who voluntarily took a lower-paying job involving her passion over a career that was in line with her college degree.

Martin, a paraprofessional for a Columbia middle school, said she picked a specific job to be closer to her children, though it was outside her degree work studying business administration.

Martin said she followed her passion of working with children.

“I had always thought about being a teacher, but I didn’t get a degree as a teacher,” Martin said. “This job let me work with the kids like I wanted to, and it also allows me to have time with my own kids.”

Martin said her husband served in the military, during which time she was not working for 10 years. When her youngest daughter began attending school full-time, she took the paraprofessional position as an opportunity to make an income while spending time with her children.

In another study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2014, only 36 percent of students with some college education say that they are actually satisfied with their current job.

MU student Leslie Parker, a career specialist in the the MU Career Center, said that she helped a variety of students choose what career to pursue. She recalled one case that raised a red flag after a series of questions as a part of the assessment process.

“She didn’t talk too much about why she would be a fashion designer,” Parker said. “I think it was just something she really liked to do. … She just loved fashion, and that’s what she was passionate about. But it’s not what she chose.”

In spite of this, there are some college students who decide to pursue passion over income. Still in college, students take up jobs outside of their desired career field to help pay off their tuition.

MU student Mary Evanoff will start her junior year in the School of Journalism. However, rather than getting a jump on her journalism career, Evanoff took up a job at Yogoluv, a frozen yogurt shop near MU.

“I like ice cream, but it’s not my passion, if you know what I mean,” Evanoff said. “I’m just doing this to pay rent and school fees.”

Evanoff said she hopes to eventually pick up a career in public relations in Paris. She minored in French studies in addition to journalism.

In light of the complexity surrounding a decision between a dream job or a job for income, Martin offered advice to help steer those considering between the two.

“I am the type of person who, if you’re not doing what you like to do, if you’re not doing what makes you happy and what’s fun for you, then the job even with the money is pretty much worthless,” Martin said. “The job that I’m doing now isn’t even a teaching position; it’s kind of like an assistant-teacher-type job. I don’t make a whole lot, but I love being with those kids.”


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