How Much Fun can You have While Making Money?

How much fun can you have while making money? This was the big question for me when I got my first job right out of high school. I was ready to rock the world or, preferably, rule it. I had only two motivations… to have the best time a girl could have while making as much money as possible.

My high school friends got summer jobs at the local pineapple cannery or flipping burgers to work their way through college. I got lucky when my mom helped me get my first job at the town’s weekly newspaper where she worked. My mom’s manager hired me on the spot during my first interview.

There was an important lesson here not lost on me, even though I didn’t have a name for it at the time: I had networked my way into a good job.

I started working in the newspaper’s production department. It was super interesting to learn how the newspaper got together and to be part of that. Everyone was friendly. We all worked hard to meet our deadlines. It was fast-paced, exciting, and fun. I liked it.

I liked making money, too. The job paid better than the minimum wage most of my friends were getting.  I had earned money before babysitting and with odd jobs like walking my neighbor’s dog, so I could buy music and go to movies. My first “real” job paid a lot better. That first paycheck was exhilarating. It said: “You’re an adult now.” I blew the whole thing on a killer pair of shoes.

Never mind that my mom wanted me to save money and attend college. Boomers call this a reality check, and it’s funny how many of them now seem a little horrified that Millennials entering the workforce insist on liking their jobs. But regardless of generational differences, everyone wants meaningful work. Boomers called it “dedication,” then. Employers call it “engagement” now.

Things don’t quite work out the way your parents plan. You make your way world. Reality did set it when I moved out of my parents’ house. I learned the hard way that life wasn’t always easy, and it’s almost always unfair.

I didn’t last long in boring jobs or where I didn’t get along with people. I found mentors who helped me get ahead, improved my skills, and got progressively better-paying jobs. I returned to school to fill in the gaps in my real-world education. I tagged with my coworkers to business association meetings, joined professional organizations, and made new friends.

My bosses took me to lunch with clients, and I caddied for them on the golf course. I learned that people do business with people they like and that you can find more business opportunities in restaurants and on the links than in the board room. Networking was profitable – and fun. “There’s a lot of opportunities; if there aren’t, you can make them…”

As the world changed, I lost the desire to rule it. I gained a desire to make a difference instead. I have yet to figure out what I’ve been put on this Earth to do, so in the meantime, I became a mentor to others in my profession and found ways to give back to my community and help others wherever possible.

I learned many rewards are better than money.

So until I find my life’s purpose or higher calling, I follow the bliss. I’m happy when I have a fun job that pays me well to do stuff I’m good at and work with people I like. While my long and winding career path has taken me in unexpected directions, my professional goals haven’t changed: Have fun. Make money.

This article was initially posted on in February 2016