When I left university, most people did one of three things.
Some friends got ‘normal jobs’, which weren’t extremely well paid or traditionally ambitious. These friends explore their preferences outside work and, if they’re lucky, have a job they’re interested in.
Other friends got ‘good jobs’, which paid more and were considered ambitious. They usually weren’t interested in the work itself, except insofar as it made the job prestigious. These jobs have taken up most of their time since — how else could they be ambitious?
A few friends (I studied philosophy, so you know the type) tried to abstain from both normal and good jobs, but have largely caved by now.
I couldn’t have predicted who would do what, except in extreme cases. Early on, most people aren’t that different. My eventually high flying finance friends dressed pretty much the same, went to the same parties, and did the same things as everyone else. Who ‘everyone else’ was wasn’t obvious, because everyone applied for the same jobs anyway.
But, someone had to get the job, so some people did and some people didn’t. This changed our lives forever. For many, this job lottery was a defining, snowballing moment.
I feel the effects every day. I got a good job after university, and hated it. For me, the area under the curve was overwhelmingly negative. The path ahead was clear, but I dreaded taking it and becoming my boss.
So I quit and got what was definitely not a good job. I started working at a (then) tiny charity called Entrepreneur First (EF) which had only the co-founders on payroll. Not only was it not a good job, it technically wasn’t even a job — I was unpaid. My Dad inferred I was ‘throwing away my life’. I had followed my philosopher friends to the third way — seemingly doing nothing at all.
This not-even-a-job job turned out to be a good job after all. With luck and effort, EF now has serious (for profit) potential. I’ve got to do things I had no known prior preference, or qualifications, for. I might even make some money out of it — I am at least now being paid — and my friends think I’m ambitious.