Is a Pay-cut Worth the Career Advancement?

Let’s discuss a topic no one talks about when you’re entering the workforce—early job choices and the impact they have on the trajectory of your career. 


When we land our first job, it’s common to see our pay increase because we start at an entry-level position. Many people even change jobs at a young age to make an extra buck. But even though changing positions may earn you more money in the short term, could it shrink your potential earnings in the future?

Let’s dive in. If you are a savvy investor, switching jobs to increase profits wouldn’t be a lousy recommendation. However, it’s no secret that most adolescents aren’t focused on long-term investments and are living paycheck to paycheck no matter their income. 

If you’re not an investor, it may be more strategic not to follow the income in your early years. If you stay the course in your current position and are an excellent employee, then you could earn promotions by remaining with that single employer. 


If you want to make yourself more desirable out of college, focus on the jobs you take—not the money you make. 

Let’s use an example. Say you’re entering the banking industry and you have two choices: an intern level position at a bank that pays $10 per hour, or a job as a food server that pays $12.50 per hour. 

In each job role, if you work 20 hours a week over four years, you’ll make:
– Bank intern: $41,600  – Food Server: $52,000That’s a difference of $10,400.
At first glance, the server job may seem the  most tempting. But even though the income is higher, you’re not doing anything to build your resume capital. 


If you gain the entry level experience as a bank intern while in college, however, you can negotiate at the higher-end of the starting pay after graduation. That competitive, starting pay may easily be an extra five grand per year, accounting for the extra $10,400 made as a server in college. With all of the relevant work experience you gained as the bank intern, you will have the upper hand from others who are still in training. 

THE TAKEAWAY: Choosing a job based on income over experience may make it harder to obtain a job in your desired industry later on. Not only will you lack experience, but you also haven’t shown examples of growth or reliability. 

Looking for more career advice? Browse other tips on the My Promotion Plan blog

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