I’ve always wondered how people achieve career success. Is it their personality, is it that they outwork others, or is it that they’re naturally talented? I recently started my career mid-2016. As a person who’s heavily influenced by Malcolm Gladwell, I’m beginning to realize that what matters the most for a career to be successful is the environment.
Career Success Depends on the Environment
I don’t mean the environment as nature related. Rather, the environment as your surroundings. If your surroundings don’t support your career, it’s very hard to achieve success. Putting yourself in a position where bosses are recognizing hard work and achievements is paramount.
You can be the most hard-working, intelligent, and value generating person on the team. However, if coworkers, bosses, and clients aren’t supportive of you, then all the hard work in the world won’t matter.
Of course, demanding a boss to recognize talent before the dues are put in is illogical. That’s why the first step should be to always put in the dues and for recognition second. However, if the recognition isn’t there, it’s difficult to project yourself forward.
A $9425 Mistake?
I shared my current salary in my last post. What I didn’t share, however, was that the salary offer wasn’t the only one I received in college. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that I worked as a valuation intern my Junior year summer.
The internship paid $16 an hour (which I didn’t think was the best, but I took it just because it was an internship in a field I wanted to be in) and I was lucky enough to receive a full time offer from them afterwards.
The offer was for $65,000 yearly salary, plus a $2,500 signing bonus, plus a discretionary bonus at the end of the year, plus generous benefits. The median family income is somewhere in the $50,000’s. It’s definitely a significant amount of money to be offered, especially as a fresh college graduate.
My current job will pay me $58,375 in my first year (my salary is $54,300 but they gave me a $4,075 signing bonus). The difference between the first offer and my current job is around $9,425 (plus bonuses). Did I make a mistake?
I currently do not know if I made the right move or not. I may know down the road, but I currently don’t. There’s reasons why I’m convinced I didn’t make the wrong move, however. It’s because of the different environments that I saw.
When I interned at the valuation company, valuing private companies’ worths, I enjoyed the work. It was interesting putting my finance classes put to good use. However, there was one aspect that was huge to me that I thought would be detrimental to career success. One of the Associates just didn’t like me.
For example, when the Associate overheard me talking to someone else, at times he would interrupt and say “I don’t believe you”. During my interview, he thought that I was BSing on my past work and he would question everything that I told him.
When I approached him to ask if I could do any work for him, he would always reply with “no” then proceed to give work to the other intern who was there. Everyone else was very supportive of me, other Associates, Vice Presidents, Managing Directors, and Analysts. It was just that one Associate who didn’t seem to like me. It got me scared that I declined their full time offer.
The Money is What Matters Though.. Is it?
Others can argue that one Associate shouldn’t tip the scale whether I should accept a full time job or not. It’s obviously very well-paying, there were definitely exit opportunities, and there were support networks in place.
However, it’s a very small group (15 professionals in total at the city) and any one of them could leave. If so, I would be left with a person with extra influence over whether I have career success or not. That wasn’t where I wanted to be.
My Current Job
Even though my salary is lower, I’m confident that I made the right choice. Everyone I talked to at my current company was more than helpful. The program I’m currently in is a rotational program and my current boss offered to recommend me to a department I wanted to go to. I didn’t take her offer but it’s not often where I get offered help, instead of me asking.
Furthermore, I talked to an Executive Vice President in the department I wanted to go to and in a 10 minute phone conversation, he offered to talk to someone to have me rotate in that department. Last week, I was informed that that I’m moving across the country (again) back to the good old state of Texas to work in the department I wanted to go to.
It isn’t just that. I had conversations with the Vice Chairman of the company, another Executive Vice President in a different group, and my boss gives me work to add value to the team. Every one of them have been more than willing to give me advice on navigating my career and they have been so helpful.
The environment is there to position myself for success, which is the most important ingredient to guiding my career forward.
I’m confident that the environment that I’m in will help my career more so than accepting the higher paying job. I may kick myself later on or be happy that I was right but I believe that positioning myself was the best move. The environment matters more than anything to success. For example, I’m living the United States and not South Korea, where I’m from.
While South Korea is a fantastic country, the academic competition is fierce, and academics determine which college I would get into. It’s so fierce that students will cheat (and they are absolutely fantastic at it) in school. I would be gobbled up by my surroundings if I was in this environment. I’m glad that I got lucky to live in the United States and have the country be my environment.
Readers, do you feel that I sacrificed too much money for potential career success? Do you think that I made the right decision? Would love to hear your thoughts!
My goal is to enable your success in personal finance so that you can realize the American dream. The first step is starting today!
Read more about me here.