When I was younger, in grad school, I was fortunate enough to have a number of internship offers. These were major companies, Fortune-500 types. It was one of those things that I somewhat took for granted at the time, though now I look back and can appreciate how a better economy could bring nice opportunities for people. What would be simply amazing today wasn’t that unusual at all back then.
Anyway, when I was evaluating the offers, I had different variables to consider. For one thing, each job was in a different city. In fact, the four positions were in three different states. This might matter, as someone could ultimately try to work for that company, so you might want to think about the long-term fit of that area for you. Another variable to think about was the industry I would be joining. The type of business in which you work can have a big impact on your career direction, even if the purported functional experience might be classified as being the same.
The one that I also paid attention to at the time was salary. Now, of course salary matters for most of us. Would you go into work every day if they all of a sudden paid you 30% less? Well, maybe – but you would be actively looking to get out and get your market value ASAP. There is a point in time when this starts to matter more and more.
That being said, when you are in the early stages of your career, I think your salary matters a bit less than quality of experience. You have the ability to take a few risks, and the latitude to explore what you like and in what direction you want to go. Of course, you can do this later too, but it’s much easier when younger and new in your career.
I actually should not have focused so much on the salary of the internship at the time. It really did play a role in my decision, as it felt good to get paid more. Simple as that. However, that was only a 14-week time period, and certainly didn’t define my career. It did turn out to be a really good experience that I learned a lot from, thankfully. But I now realize that salary wasn’t truly important in the long-run.
Later in life, salary does matter more. Sure, it might be because you’re older and have more personal responsibilities. However, it also matters because your salary is often a basis of how the market values you.
I say this based on what I’ve seen from people looking for jobs. One question that is asked, of course, is something to the effect of “what is your current salary?” This establishes, or to some degree anchors in the person’s mind, what your current market value is. If you get a job offer, they might try to match your salary or perhaps increase by some percentage.
What Do You Think?
At what point do you think that salary becomes more important than experience, or vice-versa?
Have you or anyone you know had to make such a decision in the past?
What things do you look for when considering a potential job?