I Make $40,000 a Year and I Feel Stuck in My Career. What Should I Do Next?

On this episode of the Money Confidential podcast, host Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez turns to Terri Trespicio, author of Unfollow Your Passion: How to Create a Life that Matters to You, for answers.

bird flying out of cage
Photo: John Scott/Getty Images

Every Monday on the Money Confidential podcast, host Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez, a nationally recognized money expert, delves into your (confidential) money problems and delivers smart, practical, and completely doable solutions that will help you work toward your ultimate financial goals. This is the place to come for real talk about money—and real solutions that actually work.

Follow now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Amazon / Player.FM / Stitcher

On This Episode

It's frustrating when you're not getting what you want out of your career, whether it's money, meaning, or in the case of this week's listener, both. So what do you do next? Give up the security of a steady paycheck to pursue your passions—or stick it out and hope that someday you'll make more money? And if that's a possibility, what can you do to try to make it happen?

Meet Our Caller

"Angela" is a 25-year-old listener based in Brooklyn, N.Y., who graduated from college as a theater major three years ago, not long before the pandemic hit and lockdowns began. Now, Angela is making about $40,000 a year at her retail job, but living in New York City and recently engaged to her fiancé with two children of his own, Angela is feeling the limits of her income more than ever. And while she'd like to pursue another career or follow her passion for theater, she's concerned about the lack of financial stability.

Anonymous caller "Angela"

"I feel like I'd have to go back to school to be able to really pursue a higher level of income. But then I feel like I'd be starting at ground zero. I mean, I'm only 25 now. If I'm in my 30s trying to pursue that, I worry about it not happening fast enough for the goals that I have set out."

—Anonymous caller "Angela"

Meet Host Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez

Money confidential podcast - host, Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez
Caroline White Photography

Stefanie is a nationally recognized personal finance expert ready to talk work, worth, and money with unapologetically ambitious women. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Oprah Magazine, and Stefanie has appeared on ABC World News, CBSN, Fox & Friends, Fox Business, Bloomberg, The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, and more to share her smart, practical solutions to any money problem.

Meet Our Expert, Terri Trespicio

Terri Trespicio

Terri Trespicio is an award-winning writer, author of self-help book Unfollow Your Passion: How to Create a Life that Matters to You, and in-demand speaker whose TEDx talk, "Stop Searching for Your Passion," has been viewed more than 6 million times. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and won first place in the Baltimore Review's 2016 literary contest. Her writing has also been featured in MarieClaire, Jezebel, Business Insider, and others.

Advice From the Episode

Terri Trespicio

"Telling someone to follow their passion is like saying to someone, follow that car. Which car? The one I like? The blue one because of where it's going or how fast it's going? Why should I follow it? If I told you exactly what to do, you wouldn't do it. You have to live into it your own way."

—Terri Trespicio
  • "Everything you put your time and attention into right now, you are learning for the next thing." — Terri
  • "You have no idea of the crossover of where your skills could be used. Most people are—especially in this job market—they're dying for people who would want to grow in a position, they want to train you." — Terri
  • "The worst thing you could do is say, 'But I don't know that, so I don't qualify.'" — Terri
  • Write down all the different skills you use. This is your tool bag with all the things you've learned— both in school, but also just through work and life—which are incredibly valuable. Put those skills on a board and ask yourself, "What could I do with those? What can I offer?" — Terri
  • "If you're applying for jobs, apply for a bunch of jobs—but realize that by the time that job was posted, it's being seen by a lot of people. But are you meeting new people and talking to people?" — Terri

Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez

"It's important to remember that exploring new opportunities or developing new skills or networking into new spaces does not necessarily mean giving up the paycheck or safety and security that we already have in place."

—Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez
  • "When we do make a move or choose something new or try something different, it doesn't have to be permanent, nor does it need to be definitive. Instead, making a decision—any decision—can help alleviate that feeling of paralysis." — Stefanie
  • "Whether it's a skill, experience, or even a passion, it's usually not something you're just born with, it's something that you have to work on, it's something that you develop. And maybe, more often than not, in places and roles and ways that you never expected." — Stefanie

Links and Resources

Download the transcript for this episode.

Have a money issue you'd like to share on a future episode? Fill out our intake form.

Recent Podcast Episodes You May Like:

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles