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Jobs You Think You Want vs. Jobs That Give You What You Want

Young woman looks worried as she stares at laptop with calculator in hand.

A recent job opening at a prestige media outlet:

If your skills are working with words, and “editor” is a job title you’ve thought about, this is the kind of job opening you might find in your search for things to apply for.

It sounds pretty good, until you get to that line about the salary. Living in New York City (Manhattan) on $40,000/year is the equivalent of living in Champaign-Urbana on $13,663/year (according to the Nerdwallet cost-of-living calculator).

Harper’s Magazine offers this salary, not because it’s what these skills are worth, but because it can. Harper’s is a well-known and venerable publication, and people want to work there. These will mostly be people who don’t need to worry about the salary OR are in a position to sacrifice other aspects of their well-being to working for a cultural institution with name recognition.

You have other options if you are a “meticulous editor with a keen ear for language.”

Information gets used, packaged, revised, transmitted, and celebrated all around us, and the world needs people who can work with language. The terms “editing,” “copy-editing,” and “proofreading,” are still out there — but they hearken back to a world of mostly print media. Similar activities and skills are involved in jobs that have words like “content,” “digital media,” “marketing,” “SEO,” and “communications.”

Every organization — corporations and business, as well as educational institutions, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations — needs to tell its story, speak to its audience, share information. How you contribute to that work, and whether you find it fulfilling, depends on where your particular strengths lie and what kind of job responsibilities you find rewarding.

The better you understand the paths available to you (and there are many!) the more likely you are to find a job that offers the the combination of job satisfaction and salary that you want. Make an appointment with us or email us at humanitiesprc@illinois.edu to get started.