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Is Career Envy As Common As We Think?

Last July, I graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in Fashion Marketing. I loved University, the social life, parties and friendships, however the constant lack of routine made me excited for my next stagemy new career in London. 

Since graduating there seems to be a rush, who can get the first job, who is getting paid the most, who has the most fun team? I am not a winner in any of these categories. I graduated in a pandemic and took the first job I was offered in marketing agency, promoting B2B Technology firms. It’s not my dream job, but it pays the bills and is great experience. However, it really got my thinking about career envy. Do I envy others who do have their dream job, who are getting paid more than me, or really get along with their manager? 

What is Career Envy?

Harvard Business Review explains “career envy” as the constant comparison to other individual’s careers. This may result in a painful sense of inferiority, or motivation to succeed. Career envy for me has only just started and I think it will continue for a long time, especially as I do desire a long-term career. However, I always try to not compare myself to others, so why should I start competing with careers now? Is it because our career is what gives us our passion, freedom and wage? A good career seems to equate to success, in many people’s view. Is this correct, or just society telling us it should be this way? For me, I am probably quite envious of my friends who are working for a brand or company that they are really passionate about. However, I am confident in my own little stepping-stones and that I will get to be in the right place, at the right time, one day. So, I don’t envy people for doing well or getting a promotion, more just because they are doing something that they really love!

Career Envy and Social Media

LinkedIn is a great social platform, I use it regularly to see what new jobs are available and to connect with friends, family and colleagues, in order to raise my personal profile. It can be really brilliant to see what others are doing, what experience is useful and participate in online courses, which can help broaden your horizons. However, with any social media platform, there is a downside. Everyone posting about their successes can at times be depressing, especially if you are struggling in your job, or struggling to get a job. It took me around 6 months to land a job during lockdown and every dayI felt it was one more person I knew getting a job, until it was finally my turn. So, in that perspective, yes, I do think career envy is common. After a while, I can imagine that constantly seeing someone doing better than you can be really depressing, if you genuinely take it to heart. But again, I think you have to be certain that the right opportunity will come along for you!

'A good career seems to equate to success, in many people’s view. Is this correct, or just society telling us it should be this way?.'

The Competitive Nature of Career Envy

I know some friends who are super competitive. They thrive when they are doing well and won’t be happy until they reach that point. In that way, I can imagine career envy can be really motivating, helping people achieve their best. Additionally, I think as I grow older things will change. I don’t think career envy will be such a big thing, as there will be larger issues at play in our lives. Or, it could go the other way, as we go up, it might be a bigger pillar in our liveswho knows. As for me, I know that as long as I get my break and work for a brand or company, I am genuinely passionate about, I will be happy!


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