Defining Career Success
Defining Career Success
Each year, publications such as U.S. News & World Reports publish lists of the “best” colleges and universities in the U.S. Families are looking at significant investment in higher education, so it makes sense that they would want their children to have the best possible educational experience.

As news of rising college costs continues to dominate the media, many so-called experts are offering incoming students the advice (or admonishment) to fully vet out the ROI on the degree program they will be entering. The obvious problem with this advice is that most 18-year-olds don’t have a strong sense of what they want to study, let alone what kind of careers they want to pursue. In addition to this, I’ve also noticed an increase in articles that ostensibly calculate ROI on degrees from various schools. These always seem overly simplistic, because the “ROI” relies only on the average salary of graduates as reported X years after graduation.

Do you know anyone who defines their personal ROI—that is, the success of their career—in strictly financial terms? I speak with many people who are at a crossroads in their careers, and almost always, their compensation package is not the main cause of their consternation. With that in mind, why do we focus so much on defining our career success in terms of our financial rewards only?

There are many other non-monetary factors that contribute to one’s career success. Here are a few of them:
  • Ability to mentor others
  • Leadership experience
  • Working with great people
  • Innovation
  • Enrichment
  • Making a difference—to the company, to the market, to the world
  • Seeing your ideas in practice
Don’t fall into the trap of focusing only on the money. Money cannot buy character, grace, or class. And money does not always equal success. Does money help? Yes, of course. But, you know what they say: “It doesn’t buy happiness,” which comes from many other things. Define your career success for yourself.