In my sophomore year of college, I started working as a summer intern at Travelers Insurance. The people were incredibly kind, the pay was good, and it seemed like a good way to get out of my comfort-zone and occupy my time. I ended up being in the operations and logistics division and worked every week day of the summer from 9 until 5.

Money isn’t a substitute for happiness.

The experience turned out to not be a great fit for me. As much as I enjoyed the people and liked being able to save up money, corporate culture and my desk job wasn’t for me. I found that no matter how much money I made, I still felt uninspired and depressed. From this experience, I realized a valuable lesson – money isn’t everything, nor can it be a substitute for happiness.

My routine for my internship involved waking up around 7:30am, eating breakfast, and then driving 30 minutes to work. My 9 to 5 day was only broken up with a coffee and lunch break. When I got home, I went to the gym, ate dinner, showered, then went to bed. I lived for the weekends. My mental health was suffering due to not much sunlight, sitting still all day, and poor eating habits due to feeling depressed. I knew what I was feeling wasn’t what I wanted long-term. 

This internship was a learning experience for me. It taught me lessons in what I wanted and didn’t want out of a career. I realized that what I appreciated about my work environment was the people. However, I disliked having to do the same things every day and stay sedentary in a cubicle for long stretches of time. Being a creative person, I want work that challenges and inspires me. I like to have a variety of projects to work on at a time and to have the ability to interact with people more consistently. 

In my internship role, I also wasn’t doing any writing or editing, which are my life’s passions. I think my experience in the corporate world may have been different if I was working within my area of expertise. The job did teach me new systems and helped me to build up my marketable skills. For example, I worked frequently with different archiving, data, and scheduling software such as Excel. I am grateful for those skills and the ability they gave me to branch out of my niche. However, the work felt repetitive to me. I struggled to stay interested and occupied the entire work day. 

Learning that passion beats money has shaped my life for the better.

I ended up working in my same role for the summer and my college winter break. After that, I decided to move on to a new job, despite the high pay and job security Travelers gave me. As much as I learned from my time in that internship, I couldn’t stay. I felt like continuing on wouldn’t serve my ultimate goals or general happiness. 

Learning that money isn’t as significant to me passion has shaped my life for the better. I know that many people will disagree with me and call my perspective privileged. I am saying there’s anything wrong with doing a job just for the money. Everyone should live their lives as they please and do what is best for them. However, personally, for me, pursuing my passions outweighs making tons of money. 

Since this internship experience, I have had more clarity toward what I want to do. It also encouraged me to continue investing in myself and what inspires me: writing. Ever since then, I have put my energy full-force into finding writing and publishing opportunities and sharpening those skills. If I have to work every day until I retire, I want the job to be something I find fulfillment in. Life is short and so much of our lives are spent working, it’s important to identify what’s best for your wellbeing and money isn’t it for me. 

  • Maggie Mahoney

    Maggie Mahoney is an editorial fellow based in Washington D.C. She is a soon to be graduating senior at American University studying Literature with a minor in Communications. Maggie is passionate about poetry, elementary education, blogging, and R&B music. She loves to cook and try new cuisines and considers herself a textbook Virgo.