By Ryan Healy — A question I have been thinking about for months is, what is more beneficial to a young person’s career; putting in the extra time to do great work for a company that undervalues them, or finding a hobby that will positively contribute to the career they hope to have in the long run?
For me, the answer is the latter. Until I find the perfect career that I yearn for, I will keep searching for areas that interest me outside of work. Searching requires time and effort outside of work, but my career is my personal responsibility, so I refuse to rely solely on a company to develop the skills necessary to become successful in the business world.
When I first started out in the corporate world I listened to all of the typical corporate advice. I networked within my company as much as I could. I tried my best to do amazing work to prove myself to my managers. I stayed around the office until my superiors went home. I did everything in my power to get noticed within the company. And of course, I sucked up to every bigwig I happened to meet.
Wow was I wrong. Listening to this advice and doing all of these things probably are really good for my career — if I want to go to the corner office. But working 20 years to make it to the corner office is the last thing on my mind right now, and statistics show that I probably won’t even stick around long enough to make it the corner cubicle.
So I’ve decided to work hard and participate in some of the office politics. But I’m going to devote a large portion of my time to a new hobby that will probably be more valuable to my career in the long run– blogging.
Most of my friends don’t love their jobs and aren’t sure what they want to do. Of course, many of them just go through the motions at work and relish in their “play time,” which is completely respectable; but some of my most motivated friends are trying to find their next hobby that could spark a great career.
My girlfriend Niki really wants to help children with disabilities. So she wrote some emails and made some calls to local learning centers. Two days later she had leads on multiple volunteer opportunities. Niki found a new hobby that allows her to test the waters in her new field of interest and potential career.
My friend and blog partner Ryan Paugh is teaching himself about web design and plans to take a class to improve his skills. Ryan knows that working hard and networking at his current writing job can be somewhat beneficial to his career. But his new web interest will probably do more for his career in the long run.
One of my friends spends his free time writing screen plays for a potential future in the movie business. Another friend is so bored with work that he decided to take advantage of downtime at work and he’s learning Spanish.
Investing all of your energy into a corporate job is extremely limiting. If I love my current line of work and want to climb the corporate ladder all the way to the top, then making the right contacts, waiting around the office for my supervisor to leave and sucking up to the bigwigs might be the best career move. But my current work probably isn’t what I will do for the rest of my life, and anyway there is always a risk of being fired. So I will do good work, network a little, and put the rest of my energy into a hobby that just might take me where I really want to go.