by Kimberly Flanagan

The other day I read an article on why it’s not always a good idea to turn your passion into your job and it made me want to look into the difference between a career and a job or as other people might describe it; a professional job and a non-professional job.

When I searched the definitions for a job and a career, this is what I found:

“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”

In a nutshell, people who follow their careers think about long term goals while having a job allows only for short term planning.
Have you asked yourself which path it is that you’re following? Are you chasing your dream career or are you satisfied with a regular, non-professional job?

Now, granted not everyone can have a career and sometimes a job can turn into a long term thing but it’s important to know the difference and decide where it is you want to be. From my own personal experience, following your career is not a straight and easy path to take. I work in the media industry. I started off as an intern at the SABC and I figured straight after my internship, that I would get a great job as a Journalist and I would simply climb the ladder from there. My dream was to write for the New York Times (Something which can probably still happen).

I didn’t become a Journalist after my internship, instead, I was very blessed to become a News Anchor and then after almost 2 years, my position changed to a Production Assistant and now I’ve started working as a Producer. I’m not trying to give you my CV, the point I’m making is that when you are following your career, nothing happens the way you plan or think it will happen. There is no linear ladder or chronological steps to take to grow your career. Sometimes you go up and then you go down and sometimes you can stay down for a very long time and before you know it, you suddenly find yourself at a peak.

That’s the other thing about following your career, you need to be flexible and you need to be ready for anything because things can change in an instant and it will only benefit you if you allow yourself to adjust quickly.
Between my time as an Anchor and my time as a Production Assistant, there was a lot of confusion about where my career was going. I was in limbo for over 2 months and that’s a terrible place to be in when you’re young and trying to figure out life.

In the definition above it speaks about “a series of connected employment opportunities”
To me, this means your network, your work history, your experience, your talents and skills and how the system works in your surrounding work environment. If you’re lucky enough, your career can also include your passion. My passion is writing and I’ve been blessed that I can have it both as my job, passion, and career. Again, not everyone is that fortunate but in a reverse situation, the job you find yourself in can eventually turn into your passion.

Another way to look at it is to consider that when you have a job, you get paid hourly wages and in your career, you usually get paid a salary.

So what type of occupations count as non-professional jobs and what counts as a career?
Some would say that in order to have a career, you need to have studied and gained some sort of qualification.
• Professional jobs or careers can include the following:
• Teachers
• Scientists
• Doctors
• Lawyers
Non-professional jobs can include:
• Salespersons
• Food service workers’
• Retail workers
• Shop Assistants
• Domestic workers

When you decide to chase your dream and pursue your career, there is a chance that you won’t always be earning money whereas, with a non-professional job, you are most likely safe and secure in the money that you earn, even though it may not be much.

Then again, having a regular paying job will not always mean that you’re happy. You’re most likely to live from hand to mouth if that is the case.

Remember, there are always options. Do not limit yourself and don’t get too caught up in the titles and definitions of things. Just do what makes you happy.

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