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DOING YOUR BEST; DOING THE MINIMUM
By Chioma Okwu

·         A job is something you do simply to earn money; a career is a series of connected employment opportunities.

·         A job has minimal impact on your future work life, while a career provides experience and learning to fuel your future.

·         A job offers few networking opportunities, but a career is loaded with them.

·         When you work at a job, you should do the minimum without annoying the boss. When you're in a career, you should go the extra mile, doing tasks beyond your minimum job description.

Though I agree with Trent on many things — our financial philosophies are very similar — I don't agree with him on this. I believe that all jobs deserve your best effort, and I believe the distinction between a job and a career is artificial.


 

DOING MY BEST

While I was still in school during my second year summer break, I got a sales person job at a ladies boutique. I knew nothing about how a boutique should or shouldn’t run but I was excited about the whole experience. I got to see young brilliant ladies come in everyday seeking for the perfect outfit for a date or simply for work. It was a thrilling experience; I wanted to do more than just packaging and giving receipts so I began researching on women’s clothing. While the other girls sat around in the restroom gossiping about how Ms. A spends too much money on bags, I buried myself in the internet. Soon enough I started giving fashion tips and I was able to recommend a particular outfit, bag or shoe to the customers for a particular event/occasion.

When my madam heard about how well I’ve been doing despite my initial blindness in the fashion world; she raised my salary by 15% while the gossip girls were still stuck on the initial #10,000 salary. Though I didn’t learn the twisted part of the fashion world, like why you need to wear a tight underneath a thick linen fabric; what I learnt was enough to take me two steps up the ladder from the gossip colleagues who were doing the minimum- and earning the minimum.

DOING THE MINIMUM

Two years later, I got a freelancing job with a news and information blog. My job was rather descriptive; I had a list of topics from which I would pick 5 topics to write an article on, weekly. So it was stress free and easily do-able since I just had to copy from different related blog posts on the internet and form mine. The articles I turned in weren’t original; they weren’t from my thoughts or even my own words.  So while the other writers offered their best and saw the job as a priority, I had no enthusiasm for the job.

Neither of us realized it then but our boss had a pull; so the other serious writers graduated from being just a freelance writer to having an office space, free Wi-Fi and a topped up salary.

 I found out later that my lack of initiatives in that seemingly meaningless work-freelance writing- had played a significant role in the decision not to hire me full time. For better or worse, this changed my destiny.

Lessons learned
In my young life, I've held a maze-like array of jobs. The two listed above are just representative examples. Few of my jobs have been related in the sense of a traditional “career”, but almost all of them have provided resources, skills, or connections that I could use in the future. I'm convinced that:

·         Every job is a part of your career. Some workers spend forty years in the same department at the same company. This is a career in the traditional sense of the word. Even if your working life is also a career and the jobs you’ve taken are largely unrelated; your career is made up of all your jobs, whether they're directly connected or not. Each one of them is important.

·         Every job provides skills and resources for the future. As much as you may hate to do certain things that may come with your job, you can never deny the fact that it provides skills and resources for the future. You may hate going door to door to sell your products/company products, but it is still remains an undeniable extra sauce to your marketing skills. You will learn that it never hurts to ask, you’ll learn how to deal with rejection and negative feedback. You’ll have to learn how to communicate with a huge variety of people; you will learn how to follow and how to lead. My brief stint as a freelance writer helped me develop techniques I now use to focus on the greater part of writing. Even my job as a sales person offered lessons about the value of hard work and a positive attitude.

·         Every job offers networking opportunities. You don't know where life will lead you. You don't know which co-workers or customers you will meet later and in what context. My sister, Cynthia used to make beads for a couple of months before she diverted her interest to baking and food; now she is the CEO to her own baking and food company. She's constantly drawing on the network of contacts she made while she made beads. In many ways, a non-traditional career like Cynthia's offers more opportunities to leverage relationships.

·         You should always do your best. Doing the minimum is rarely a good idea. Whether or not you think your current job is part of your career path, do your best. Do more than is asked of you. If you approach your work with a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, and a spirit of excellence, you will set yourself so far apart from your peers that your employers will be forced to take notice. It never hurts to do your best.

I'm not arguing that you should pour yourself into every job you ever have. But I do think you should treat most jobs as if they were important — because they are. They not only provide a source of immediate income, but it's possible that they can lead to better things in the future.

The disparity between a career and a job
Not all careers have a single unifying theme. Some careers are homogeneous, but many are not. My mum used to be a contract cook –which was something she loved and still loves to do- but now she’s a full-time lecturer. I worked as a boutique sales girl for few months- now I am a full-time writer. My sister made beads for 14 months- now she’s a professional baker. Each of us have a career, even if the jobs we do at the beginning do not seem to be related.

I think that for most people — whether they're on a traditional career path or not — a job is just a way to earn money. There are people who love their work, but even then not all of them are in a career. For most people, work is simply a necessary evil.

So what's the difference between a career and a job? I don't believe there is one. A career is simply a lifetime of jobs, whether those jobs are related or not. And while it's important to focus on your future goals, it's even more important to focus on doing the best you can right now at your current job.

FINAL NOTE

There’s though one exception to my advice above- there are good jobs, bad jobs and then there are shitty jobs. Don’t ever settle for a shitty job. If you feel that a job has been sculptured to drain away your freewill, happiness and mentality; walk away. Some of us may not be very lucky to immediately get settled into that dream job while the rest of us go through so many strings of jobs before finally landing.

I think the vital lesson should be to never settle for a shitty job and still be willing to offer your best.

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