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by Cathy Vandewater | January 14, 2013


Call it the Britney Spears affect. The newly "Ex" judge of the X-Factor is a few years older than the bulk of her generation, but the  M.O. is the same: not really trying until she finds something she feels like doing. The X Factor is the latest project chucked aside after a half-hearted run.

Luckily, Spears has her early 2000s money and fame to lean on, but the younger members of her generation aren't so lucky. They're living with parents or several roommates, maybe working a part time job while they start work on yet another degree, or trying on yet another unpaid internships. They're "finding" themselves. They're holding out for their real lives to begin. They don't want to commit without falling in love.

In one sense, it's admirable. In another, it's crazy. As Ben Drake of Brazen Life writes, success really does breed success—and sometimes it's very necessary to get a career—any career—off the ground before a dream job can become a reality.

Here's a few reasons to stop hitting the career snooze button:

1. You need a track record to get any real breaks

Briefly stated, a blank resume is the kiss of death. If you can't get the work experience you want or need for a dream job, get any job and volunteer, intern, or simply work on a portfolio of samples on your own. Holding out for something perfect can (ironically) damage your chances of landing the opportunity when it comes.

2. Your "Passion" may not be all it's cracked up to be

Seeing is believing. And if you're only seeing your dream job in your mind's eye (waiting for the job title or company you want), you're not going to realize it's not for you without wasting tons of valuable time. On the other hand, taking a less than ideal job might open your eyes to work you love, that you had no idea you'd enjoy or be good at. Seize your opportunities and learn from them—being picky is an easy way to shut out valuable information.

3. Small victories breed confidence

Maybe your opportunities for interesting work are small. So what? Exploit them for all they're worth. If your boss wants you to make a manual for how to use the copy machine for the office, use your design, writing, editing, and photoshop skills to make it the most incredible document the company has ever seen. Low responsibility means low risk, so dream big, try hard, and if necessary, fall flat on your face. There is no better place to make teachable mistakes than the bottom. Best case scenario: you nail a project enough to get better work. If nothing else, you'll entertain yourself.

4. You don't know what you don't know yet

Basic people skills, office etiquette, organizational basics—there are oft-over looked experiences that you don't noticed until their absence is clearly missing. They're also easily attainable through a job. Get one, and learn everything you can from it—even if it's just how to use the carrier box from Starbucks, or work your company's new coffee machine.

5. You never know who's watching

Would you do a half-hearted job if your dream company were taking notes? Pretend they are. Because you never know.

Read More:
Why Stereotypes About Gen Y Are Actually True (Business Insider)
Liberal Arts Major? Don't Despair
Is an M.B.A. Worth It?