The notion that if you do what you love you never work contributes to a burnout culture.
The idea that work is performed by a motivation of love for the position, or desire to be associated with a company or working environment that has some form of status cultivates an environment where compensation or being personally valued are undermined.
Internships are an example of this, the experience of where you are working is considered of more value than the work you are performing, so love for the workplace is the currency.
Working unpaid extra time is also portrayed as a demonstration of devotion to workplace; as is the expectation that love for work will demonstrate itself in preparedness to prioritise work over everything else.
But the job can’t love you back; and like a dysfunctional relationship, the dynamic is one that if you’re dissatisfied with the situation the problem is with you and the answer is offering more of your devotion and effort to make it work.
This is a recipe for burnout.
From Can’t Even by Anne Helen Petersen.
In this way, “cool” jobs and internships become case studies in supply-and-demand: Even if the job itself isn’t ultimately fulfilling, or demands so much work at so little pay so as to extinguish whatever passion might exist, the challenge of being the one in a thousand who “makes it work” renders the job all the more desirable.
At the time of this writing, you can apply for a position as a “Customer Support Hero” at Autodesk, a “Nib Ninja” at a Pennsylvania chocolate factory, a “Wellness Warrior” at a clinic in Utah, and a “Rockstar Repair Man” for an Orlando, Florida rental group. Most of these job ads are for entry-level positions with pay at or just above minimum wage, with few or no benefits.
Some are simply freelance gigs marketed as “earning opportunities.” The shittier the work, the higher chance it get affixed with a “cool” job title and ad – a means of convincing the applicant that an uncool job is indeed desirable and thus worth accepting the barely livable wage.
That’s the logic of “Do what you love” in action. Of course, no worker asks their employer to value them less, but the rhetoric of “Do what you love” makes asking to be valued seem like the equivalent of unsportsmanlike conduct.