If you're a type A personality like myself, you may wonder occasionally am I doing enough at work to sling shot my career? Am I putting energy into the right things to help me shine during performance reviews? Am I meeting or surpassing expectations? Am I crushing billable hours? Basically, am I doing a good job at work? Those are all relevant questions (especially for a hard charging young lawyer), but you may also want to ask: while I give my time and energy to this position, what is my job giving back to me?
YES, your job should give something back to you beyond your regular paycheck and benefits. You invest time, energy, initiative, and sometimes pure grit. It is reasonable, that in exchange you should expect a return on your investment. That return can take many forms: new skills; relationships built; professional challenges that help you grow; more responsibility; mentorship; or the opportunity to participate in professional development courses. With every job expect to walk away with a story line on your resume that demonstrates experience, growth, and expertise. You invest a lot. Expect a return on your investment.
None of us are at work to merely labor all day (some nights and weekends too) trying to hit billable hours and deadlines. You are there to gain some if not all the things listed above. Every job should add something to your professional toolbelt. From intern to equity partner or chief counsel – and everything in between – there are skills to gain no matter the position. Look for ways your current role can add value to your resume. Do not be afraid to ask for some of this ROI if you think it is missing. Especially in positions where the salary may be lower than market average, but the cultural is great. Some of these non-salary “returns” are priceless. Experience and new professional skills are priceless.
Think about your long-term goals and whether this job and what you are gaining from it will get you there. If there are no connections between your current position and your goals, then start planning how you will get back on track. Your current job may become the best talking point for a future interview. There is so much to learn from all the jobs you may hold before you reach that “dream job.” Stay the course and know that you are working towards something great.