Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems: Dream Jobs When You’re Strapped for Cash

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The life of a young professional often comes with some Catch-22’s: How can you do what you love when it may not pay the bills?

In college, you may have had plans to start your own business, be an artist, or travel around the world. But if you’re like most college grads, you may have an outstanding student loan balance equivalent to, on average, about 60 percent of annual income. Where’s the cash going to come from?

This is not to say you should give up on your dream job. Although you may be strapped for cash, there are some ways to maintain debt and other responsibilities while still pursuing your interests:

Budget before you dive in

Even though you may have some die-hard passions, money is still important. That’s why it’s critical to budget before you dive further into exploring your interests. Do you have to pay rent or student loans? What about your monthly bills, expenses, and pocket money? Do you need to stay at home for a while before you get on your feet? Knowing how much money you’ll need every month can help you to evaluate what you can and can’t do in terms of work.

Acquire a mentor

Mentors are a great way to learn about your dream job. Not only have they lived it, they can also help you to avoid critical mistakes. For instance, if you had a huge interest in fashion design, you could look for someone in the industry who has risen through the ranks successfully. Their helpful advice can lead you in the right direction, especially if you don’t know where to begin.

Integrate your hobbies into your profession

If your dream job doesn’t pay well, why not try to find something that combines your love for an industry with work that will fill your wallet? For example, you may want to be a famous designer one day, so why not try to work in an industry publication? Working in a textile organization can give you some firsthand knowledge of the space. Going the combination route provides you with money, gives you some valuable transferable skills, and fulfills your interests.

Get a side job

If you can’t find a job that combines your interests, you may want to get a side job. This could be in the form of an internship or a part-time gig. Either way, a side job allows you to leverage your passion, even if it may not be your ideal situation. For instance, your mentor may give you an opportunity to work some fashion events, which puts you in the middle of the industry, helps you to gain experience, and can provide you with some powerful contacts.

Be an entrepreneur

If all else fails, go at it alone. Now, this is not to say you should forget practicality. Going at it alone means creating your own venture with the knowledge that with enough time, you can make your own success. The big entrepreneurs of today did it. Even though it may have taken years, long nights, and tight wallets, they’re now doing what they love. In the end, that’s all the matters.

If you’re concerned about finding your dream job while strapped for cash, take the above advice and use it in your job hunt. While a dream job is tough to get, with enough time and effort (and maybe some creativity), you’ll find that it may be closer than you think.

What do you think? What are some other ways to have a dream job when you’re strapped for cash?

Photo courtesy of 2bgr8; Wikipedia Commons

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta, Managing Director of CareerShift, co-founded the company in 2005 to help individuals bridge the gap between education and employment.  As a recognized expert in the field, Val is a frequent speaker on career management, networking, and job hunting strategies.  You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.