This post comes from Alex Nucci, VP of Growth at ClutchPrep, a company that provides textbook-specific videos and tutoring in science subjects to college students. Under Alex’s guidance, ClutchPrep has tripled their MRR over the past 8 months.

8 months ago, I hit a crossroads.

About to choose my next career move, it wasn’t clear to me which option was best. They were all great, but there was definitely a better one to pick (there always is).

I created a list of things that one considers when making a decision like this. The idea was to put them all in perspective with what my long term goals were, as opposed to being lured in by what might be a short term win.

After spending some time grouping and prioritizing, I placed all of the reasons into buckets. I then used them to help me score my choices.

The way I see it, these are the most important ranking factors when choosing the path to level-up within your vocation.

The buckets are career oriented, and do not take into account a whole slew of other preferences or situations. Culture fit, health, family, location…these variables are more intimate in nature. It would be hard to give advice on them without some context.

Additionally, experience and age should also play a big role in how you choose what’s most important to you. Where you are on your career trajectory is somewhat subjective, and how you weigh each of the buckets should depend on that. Self awareness is key.

Everyone should rank them differently, depending on how career vs lifestyle vs risk-averse oriented they are.

In no particular order, the buckets are:

Mentorship 💭

Do you deeply respect the team or leaders at this company?

Working alongside the right people can greatly accelerate your career trajectory. The inverse is also true; working with the wrong ones can add years to that journey.

Pick your sources of experience and inspiration wisely — more so when building a foundation.

Assuming equally willing mindsets and difficulty levels, It’s harder to unlearn something than it is to learn it. Quitting a bad habit is more challenging than picking up a new good one.

This is probably the most undervalued bucket — at least it comes up less frequently when others say why they chose a job.

I would advise anyone under 25 to make this their top deciding factor. Pick the absolute best person or team that will hire you, and take that job regardless of anything else.

Passion 🔥

This job fulfills you, at least right now, at a personal level. Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, this shit feels good.

Become passionate about things that line up with your skills and strengths.

Passion can represent itself in a job through one of more of these:

  • Cause
  • Industry
  • Company
  • Position

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll find something that hits on all four.

I have mixed feelings on choosing a career path based on passion. It’s hard to tell someone to not do what they’re passionate about, yet the reality is that it’s hard to line up passion with skill. It’s also likely that once you do what you’re passionate about day-in and day-out, you’ll lose interest in it…it’ll become routine and no longer fulfilling (this happened to me).

A more interesting (and less common way) of choosing based on passion, while having a successful outcome, is to become passionate about things that line up with your skills and strengths.

If people tell you that you argue too much, you might be a good lawyer 🙂

Compensation 💰

Two main versions of this:

1. Pays above average for that particular job description

2. It’s the best paying job offer you’ve gotten

Ideally, if this bucket is having considerable weight on your decision, it’s being used as a tie-breaker. A reason to pick one out of a few jobs that are very similar and fulfill you in the same ways.

Odds are, that if the job doesn’t also hit on a few more buckets that you value, you should stop considering that opportunity. When given a chance between learning or earning, choose learning and maximize that opportunity. Especially early on in your career.

There are exceptions, of course. Like taking a job that you expect to last <6 months. Or the extra money brings in some needed flexibility that allows you to plan or fund your next move.

Flexibility 🔓

By taking this job, you can work on your side project. Or take that night coding bootcamp. Or start working part-time on something that gets you closer to your ultimate goal.

Or put in time at the non-profit you’re passionate about.

Flexibility without a clearly defined ulterior motive, though, is just comfort. And comfort stagnates progress.

In most cases, this will be a temporary position or solution, and ideally matches well with the compensation bucket. Lining up both should give you the needed time and resources for your real career to take off soon enough.

Flexibility without a clearly defined ulterior motive, though, is just comfort. And comfort stagnates progress.

Security 🛡

Working for the government. Or a Fortune 500. Or an organization that’s been around for decades.

You know that you’re (relatively) set for a long time. That the health insurance is great. That you’ll do good so long as you work the system.

This position, at this company, makes you feel set and secure. You’re comfortable.

I almost fell asleep while writing about this bucket.

Stage Experience 🚀

See what it’s like to be part of the early days of a startup. Learn about corporate structure. Strap onto a rocket ship that’s about to go from 30 to 100 employees.

You might want to see if it’s what you really think it is. Or if you’re a good fit at a company this size. Maybe it’s about getting first-hand experience, so that you can learn to sell to companies at that stage.

This is somewhat similar to mentorship, in that you’re looking for learning experiences, or validation, on something that will make you better at your ultimate goal.

Industry Experience + Networking ⛓

If you already know what industry you want to be a part of, you’ll ideally take positions that help you get to know how things work. Or meet the people that shape it.

The goal of this is to come out of this with a mix of 30% what you know and 70% who you know.

Having people that trust and believe in you is great. Having those people be inside of your industry is even better.

Creative Freedom 💡

Do you want to draw the map or steer the ship?

Do you want to take the risk of creating the something new from scratch, or do you want to manage an existing process and/or execute on it to perfection?

You might be able to create, manage and execute early on. As you scale, however, it’s likely you’ll only get to focus on two of them.

No matter how much you like everything else about the job, if you can’t see yourself executing on someone else’s ideas, you won’t be happy in the long run.

Same goes with putting yourself in a position that requires a lot of creativity, when what you really want is to execute on a clear vision.

Trophy 🏆

If you’re in finance, you spent some time at Goldman. If you’re in tech, you were a double-digit hire at Airbnb. Maybe you get to work at a multi-exit entrepreneur’s newest venture.

These are hard to come by, and very few people will turn down the opportunity. Even if they just plan on sticking with them for one year, and doing a right of passage.

It’s hard for this to not pay dividends. This stepping stone will likely make every step you take after it one much easier.

Applying this way of thinking led me to a clear choice. When I finished the list, I decided to join Clutch as VP of Growth.

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At the stage I was at, I weighed mentorship, stage experience and creative freedom above all else.

A few specific reasons:

1. Join a brilliant + dedicated team.

From the outside looking in, I could tell ClutchPrep was about to hit an inflection point on all fronts — team member count, revenue, product scale, experience — and I wanted to be part of that journey.

2. Tackle a real problem (textbooks) within a broken system (college education).

Clutch had just been accepted to 500 Startups Miami Distro Dojo Batch 1, and I was looking forward to going through a Growth-specific program with the rest of the team.

3. I get to do what I love most: grow revenue.

When it comes to your career, opportunity cost should be treated as the greatest cost of all.

If you are currently searching for something new, I hope this helps you find some clarity. If you’re not searching, but after reading this realize you are not hitting on the points that matter most to you, I hope this kickstarts a new search.

My advice: Go for the long term win. When it comes to your career, opportunity cost should be treated as the greatest cost of all.

We live in a time that you can pick, or at least try, anything that you want to do. More than ever, we have the luxury of being fulfilled through passion. You owe it to yourself to give it a shot.*

When you look back at the decision you made, it should be clear that it brought you further along to your ultimate goal. Regardless of what happened, how long it lasted, or if you changed direction.

If you made the choice based on a vision of your future self, you’ll be happy with it.

Thank you Bibi, Jenny, Johnny & Marcio for reading drafts + giving feedback.

* This paragraph was a great, almost-verbatim, point made by Marcio, Clutch’s CEO, while giving feedback on a draft.

To learn more about the Distro Dojo growth accelerator program, go here.

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Special thanks to ClutchPrep for contributing this post.