When you're looking to land your first or second paying gig, it's easy to mix up the concepts of a job and career. Early on, a job may seem paramount to long-term success, as it is your source of income and likely your first true professional experience. However, a job right after school will likely be unrelated to or far from your lifetime career goals. This distinction might seem confusing. At surface level, the idea of a job and career seem intrinsically similar, but this is not necessarily the case, especially for a young job-hopper still searching for his or her professional calling. It is important to be able to distinguish these two designations when interviewing and considering switching jobs.
Jobs take up a lot of our day-to-day lives. It's easy to get lost in your work and think about it as a permanent situation, but you should maintain perspective. Basically, a job is a position we keep to make enough money to pay the bills. A good job can be part of a rewarding career, but it is merely one component in a larger picture. This means a job might not be somewhere you intent to stay for the long haul, and it might be unrelated to where you see yourself 10 years down the line. With that said, jobs are not the only thing that contribute to a career, and switching jobs will likely take much less work than changing career paths.
A career is the compilation of your work experiences, volunteer opportunities, educational training and other professional accomplishments. Career paths generally follow a chain of job positions that build up to encompass more responsibility. To have a successful career, it is important to constantly consider long-term goals that lead to a position that will ultimately make you happy. Careers are meant to provide more satisfaction and rewards than a job. If you are always looking for new challenges and responsibilities at a particular job, it might be a sign that you could enjoy a career in that field.
It is important to understand this distinction when talking to employers and hiring managers–that way, they can identify your career aspirations. Many employers want to have a general idea of where you see yourself within the company. A common interview question might include, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" or "What are your long-term career goals?" Have answers ready for these types of questions when meeting with a potential employer or interviewing for a new position.