You’ve done your hard yards at school, pushing through your papers and all-night benders. After graduation, you finally get a job, but… you later find out that your classmates are paid better. It’s not a crime to be envious of them, but is it really worth your worry?
Firstly, you can’t count on them holding onto that same job for long. According to findings by job site Monster.com, nearly one-third of Singaporean fresh grads quit their jobs in less than a year. Most who left their first jobs cited the lack of professional growth as a main reason for quitting (ironically 61% admitted they lack industry knowledge), along with the desire to earn a higher wage.
Local recruitment firm Career Shine recommends staying at a company for 2 to 3 years before leaving, as most people are still adapting to the culture and learning new things in the first year. Leaving earlier isn’t going to do you any favours.
However, if you’re unhappy with your current job, maybe you just haven’t found the right job yet. But a fulfilling career should be a lot more than the number of zeroes on your paycheck, your fancy job title, or expressing your passions. There are other factors and motivations to consider when you’re fresh in the workforce.
Your youth is supposed to be a learning curve
While getting a high salary right after graduation is something most people pride themselves on, don’t let it be the only factor.
Successful entrepreneur, investor, and programmer Sam Altman advises students to learn as much as they can at their first jobs by joining a (new) company on a breakout trajectory. They are a very good risk/reward trade-off and are ideal for ambitious young people because they will learn what success looks like, and how to get there. Even if the company fails, it teaches you something – and those lessons are more valuable than working with an already massively successful company where you will learn much less and probably work with less impressive people.
“I just watched someone turn down one of these breakout companies because Microsoft offered him $30k per year more in salary—that was a terrible decision. He will not build interesting things and may not work with smart people. In a few years, when it’s time for something new, the options in front of him will be much worse than they could have been,” he added.
Finding your motivation
While most people don’t think about it, your motivation for working is important – it not only fuels your hunger to get a job, it gives you the perseverance to stick with it.
According to a study published by the Academy of Management Journal, some people can feel strongly motivated at work for a reason that has nothing to do with either fancy perks, paychecks or personal growth.
The answer lies in the type of motivation: family motivation. The study found that those who agreed with statements like “I care about my supporting my family” were more energised and performed better day after day, even though they were not offered financial incentive; they didn’t even find their work enjoyable or interesting.
Here’s what makes family motivation so special: It doesn’t depend on the details of your job, your boss, or your company. It’s a simple case of putting others ahead of yourself – being selfless is also good for your state of mind.
Every job—from the menial to the high-performing—provides us with the opportunity to affirm our identities as capable, respectable individuals, upon whom the most important people in our lives can rely.
Granted, due to the competitive work culture in Singapore, it’s not going to be easy landing your dream job, and it might take several years before you find a company that suits you. But finding your motivation and opening your mind to learn new things will definitely help you be in a healthier state of mind.