Are the days of 'paying your dues' dead?

So I got to talking with marketing genius Matt Cheuvront the other day. Matt is the force behind the popular lifestyle blog, and he recently launched a new marketing/branding firm called Proof Branding. Matt is out there just killing it as an entrepreneur. At the ripe old age of... 24.

I asked Matt how he managed to muster the courage and business savvy to carve out a career path of his own so freaking soon after graduating from college. This led to discussion about the common belief that one must "pay their dues" in the workplace before "climbing up" to an interesting, rewarding sort of deal.

Here's Matt's take on the "pay your dues" theory...

It wasn't long ago (just over two years now) that yours truly walked across the stage, was handed a diploma, and received a hearty pat on the back and a "welcome to the real world."

Two years ago. At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life - where I wanted to go nor what I wanted to be. The idea of work was just that, work - and work sucked.

So I wanted no part of it.

At the time, the idea of 'loving what you do' (having worked several retail jobs and a super-low paying on-campus gig) was an entirely foreign concept to me.

I really couldn't comprehend "liking" work…

But you have to start somewhere...or do you?

I think the majority of us enter our "career years" in much the same way:

Throughout college we're told that, once we graduate, that we shouldn't expect much.

That our initial entry-level jobs are going to suck, but that if we pay our dues and put in some time, we'll eventually be able to do what we love.

We'll get that nice corner office and a fat paycheck  (even if that does mean we've also just sold our souls for 25 years, just long enough to be wearing that commemorative gold watch.)

But now that I've been there, done that. I did that "pay your dues" thing, for a short while.  But now? Just two years down the road of my career? I'm looking back wondering if I really ever had to go through that phase. Especially now, students are graduating and, instead of going to work for 'the man' - they're starting their own businesses.

RIGHT OUT OF COLLEGE. Some of them are doing it DURING college, or bypassing college (gasp!) altogether...and they're seeing great success going out on their own.

It begs the question, "Are the days of paying your dues dead"?

I think they might be. While I don't discount the experience I've had in all regards, I simply don't think it's necessary anymore to go work a job you hate for a year or two just to beef up your resume.

The power is shifting.

The scales are balancing out. Just as, in the current economy, the power is now in the hands of the consumer more than the business? The power is now in the employee and individual more than it is by the big businesses of the world.

You've just got to believe that it's possible.

A little back-story on me...

In my most recent '9-5' stint, I simply wasn't getting compensated enough, at all. So I started my 'side hustle,' designing websites and doing a little the point that, before I was let go from my job, I was actually making more on the side than I was in the office.

See what I mean about the power shift? Whereas, it used to be the companies out there with all the leverage, now it's shifted to a 'power to the people' mentality.

You've just got to believe that it's possible.

Young job-seekers want more.

Even at an extremely young age, we're demanding more from our jobs, more meaning, more responsibility, and compensation that coincides with our hard work. If that isn't being delivered, we're quick to jump ship - quick to move to something else, something better.

So when it comes to the conversations I have with current students and recent graduates, I actively preach that you don't have to settle for this "paying your dues" thing. You don't.

Depending on what you truly want to do careerwise, it may be inevitable, but it is avoidable. I firmly believe that, with a lot of hard work you can create a job, one that you love, right out of school.

What do you think? Is the power shifting? Are the days of paying your dues and working your way up the ladder long gone?

Matt Cheuvront is on a mission to change the world, one brand at a time. A marketer, designer, writer, speaker and all around good guy to know - Matt is the co-founder of Proof Branding, a just-launched branding, design, and strategy firm. Check out his company, Proof, read his blog, Life Without Pants and say hello on Twitter today!

Jenny Foss12 Comments