Dear Wendy: “Is My Friend Jealous Of My Career Options?”

I recently received a job offer from the company I interned with this past summer for next June after I graduate. I’m not sure if I want to accept this offer (because I am still questioning what field I want to work in and whether I’d have the ability to transfer into another position from this one), so I asked some of my close friends for advice. One friend seemed to resent that I wasn’t completely gung-ho about accepting this offer. She was “unemployed” for less than a month after graduating before she accepted a full-time position in her desired field, and seems to be pushing me to accept this position due to the high unemployment rate and the fact that most people don’t find their “perfect job” upon graduation. She even went so far to say that I should accept the offer and keep looking, which I find ethically immoral. In addition, she got very upset that I didn’t feel blessed for receiving the offer or was somehow spoiled for being able to be choosy in my decision. This is a choice that will impact the next three years of my life, at the very least!

I know she is employed in a position she feels is outside of her desired field and is looking for a new job, but I do not feel that she is being supportive of the way I choose to live my life or empathizing with the decisions that I am trying to make. Was she just venting or jealous of my freedom of choice when it comes to my career prospects, or is there a deeper rift forming in our relationship, Wendy?— Job Hunter

Let me get this straight: you have a decision you’re having trouble making, so you turned to a handful of close friends for advice and perspective and when one friend gave you advice you didn’t want to hear — advice that, in my opinion, was pretty solid — you automatically deemed her “unsupportive” of the way you live your life and questioned whether she was jealous of you? Are you serious? Did you not truly want advice? Because that’s what it seems like (and trust me, I have a pretty good radar for people who don’t want “real” advice but only want to be validated or have their egos stroked).

The truth is, your friend brought up some valid concerns. The job market is terrible right now. You arelucky — incredibly lucky! — to have gotten a job offer before you even graduate. And most college gradsdon’t find their perfect dream jobs right out of school. Does that mean you won’t or can’t? Of course not. But there’s also no shame in taking a decent job that provides a solid income, networking opportunities, and valuable experience as you continue looking for the next move. And speaking of next move, there’s also no shame in accepting a job — a job that wouldn’t start for nine more months! — and keeping your eyes and ears open for something better in the meantime. It’s not ethically immoral; it’s smart. It’s what happens in the business world, which is much, much different than, say, the world of interpersonal relationships. If you had agreed to marry someone next summer with the intention of keeping you eyes open for someone better, then, yes, that would be ethically immoral. But accepting a job offer in this kind of economy while keeping your options open in the nine interim months? Smart!

So, listen to your friend…and listen to me. I assure you, I am not jealous of you and I don’t resent you for your career prospects, and, yet, I’m giving you the same advice. Because it’s solid advice. If the job seems like a good opportunity, definitely consider accepting it. No matter how much potential you have and how bright your future seems, with the job market the way it is, this could be one of only a few offers you might get — and it may end up being the best one. Do you want to be working a retail job a year from now because you turned this offer down and didn’t get another/better one, or do you want to give yourself a little insurance that at least you’ll have something to hang your hat on post-graduation as you continue to field other opportunities and narrow your focus of interest? If it were me, I’d definitely go with the latter.

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