Doing Good, Earning More

Melissa Reed

Shortly after finishing graduate school in Minneapolis, I landed my dream job. I was hired as the political director for a reproductive health agency—and ended up writing legislation that got signed into law in my first year.

That was an amazing achievement. But then, after only a year, I got an offer to lobby for the city of Minneapolis—for three times my salary.

I was so torn. How could I sell my soul for a fatter paycheck? I had some long conversations with myself and came to two conclusions:

Wanting more money doesn’t make you a sell-out. There is no shame in wanting a good life. I had to wrestle with the realization that even though I was doing something different, I was still able to pursue my passion. It was just on a more “macro” level.

You’re still you. Often when you move into a bigger position, you give up the hands-on work that made you fall in love with your job. But employers hire you for your strengths, and you can make a case for doing what you love—in my case, lobbying specifically for women’s rights—and they’ll help you incorporate it into your new job.

Bottom line: I kept my focus. I’m still making a difference—and six figures, too.

Choose or lose. What are some tough career decisions that you’ve made?

Join the Discussion