Recently, I thought about the difference between a career and a job. Technically, a job is one employment agreement out of many that span a career. A career could be database administration, while a job could be the time employed at one company.
The difference between these could be considered in another way, however. If you have no passion for what you do, you might think of the purpose of your job as “putting in your time and collecting a paycheck.” It might be satisfying work, but you have no interest in doing more than is necessary. When you leave the office, you don’t think about it again until arriving the next day. It’s unlikely that you will attend an evening user group meetup or a weekend conference. There is nothing wrong with that – you may have other hobbies or interests that are more important to you, and working is a means to an end. It’s “just a job” to you, and that is OK.
On the other hand, you might be one of those people who are so passionate about what you do that you really do call it a career. You get excited about weeks with important announcements such as the recent Ignite Conference. You look forward to attending tech conferences and user groups and end up making friends among the technologists that you meet at these events. You might even decide to start speaking at the conferences or write a blog. Talking about tech – geeking out – is fun for you. Actually, I can’t imagine many professions where people enjoy talking shop as much as technologists do.
In the data platform community, I’ve seen both types of people. There are those who will attend a user group meetup as long as they can do it during normal business hours while getting sanctioned time off from their managers. They would never consider attending a SQL Saturday or an evening meeting on their own time. On the other hand, there are people who are willing to spend their holiday hours and own funds to attend a conference if they must. I’ve noticed that many of the latter end up getting more involved as leaders of groups, speakers, and authors. Spending that extra time is not required by most employers. That level of passion is not a job requirement.
Since we spend so much time of our lives working, enjoying what we do is a huge benefit. Of course, not every manager is a good manager, and not every company is a great fit, but, when you’ve found a career that you love, you can always find another job.