I’m getting married this year. October 20th. To the most amazing, strong, successful, funny, smart and beautiful woman. In short she is the woman of my dreams. That’s not to say that she’s flawless- because we’re all human after all – but she is incredible … Continue reading Work, balance and when not to take yourself too seriously
Not too many years ago I graduated university with a degree in economics. To say that I was stoked, overjoyed and jubilant would be a severe understatement. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, and something I will cherish forever. It took a lot of effort to get to that point, and it was well worth it in the end.
A degree in economics, opens the door to most jobs in the public and private sector, which doesn’t require an advanced technical degree, and I think the idea is that since you’ve proven that you can do complicated math, you are ready to become a contributing member of society.
Interviews up the Wazoo…
I started looking for jobs immediately upon graduating, and I got called into my fair share of interviews. Sadly for me, I was an arrogant young gun-slinger, who figured every company should beg for a chance to hire him, and this was not the most productive of attitudes, which meant I had trouble landing a job. When I finally did land a job, I quit within two days, because the actual job didn’t line up, with what I’d been promised in the interview, and the guy who ran the company and who was my immediate boss was a massive cunt.
Key lesson here – I don’t want to work for someone who I don’t get along with, or at least have some sort of respect for, and I don’t think you should either if you have the choice.
Anyway – there I was, fresh out of school, many interviews in and one job in, and I was already on the hunt for my second job.
… And finally a solid job (sort of)
The next job I went looking for, I decided to be a bit more picky and meticulous in what I wanted in a job – it had to be something more than just a paycheck. I had a few more interviews and in spite of all my good intentions, I jumped at the first opportunity that presented itself.
This time in the banking sector as a business analyst in the operations division of the IT department at one of the largest Danish banks. If you think this sounds vague, you’re not alone. I had literally no idea what I’d be doing, and neither it seemed, did the people who hired me.
So I’m now two jobs into my career after six months, and I’m already looking for a third job. Not the ideal start to a career, but at least it provided me with enough money to buy peanut butter and some decent clothes, which is a good start, however this wasn’t enough to keep me there in the long run, and something soon happened, which sped up my getting out of there.
Crash, bang, boom
This solid start didn’t last long, because I clashed wholeheartedly with the person who was assigned to be my mentor. At this point, I’m starting to wonder if I’m really the problem here, but I also knew that I could get along with almost everyone, except for these two people who I’d started out my career working for.
At any rate, here I am, trying to make the best of a shitty situation, and it turned out, I actually managed to salvage something from it. I made a few solid friendships, gained a number of decent colleagues as soon as I removed myself from the immediate vicinity of my “mentor”.
I feel like I could probably have had a less eventful start to my career, but adversity is a fine teacher, and I learned a number of things from this, chief among them that it is always up to ourselves to change things we are unhappy with.
When I didn’t like my first job, I quit and immediately started looking for a new one. When I didn’t like the tasks or (some of) the people in my next job, I looked for new jobs within the organization, and managed to find something that was tolerable and stayed there until I could move on to something better.
Full disclosure, I did manage to find something that I really liked in the end. It took a few tries, but it was well worth it, and I want to share that story, but that’s going to be in another post.
Summary of the lessons learned
I learned that it is always up to me to figure out how I can make the most of any given situation – figure out how I can learn as much as possible and forge connections and alliances, that might become worth something down the road.
As long as I make a point to learn something every day, either about my job, about myself or about other people, then every day is valuable. Although it is probably preferable to be well liked by everyone, that’s a pipe dream – and so is having the perfect job, by the way – and it’s never going to happen in real life, so don’t set your sights on it.
What I want from a job, is work that I find engaging more often than not, somewhere I feel I can contribute to making a difference and the work is meaningful, and most importantly that I get along with the majority of my colleagues and hopefully make a friend or two.
What are some of the things you want from your career?
Let me know in the comments section
One of my greatest weaknesses throughout my entire life was my inability to dig really deep into a problem. I would only ever do the bare minimum to get me through a problem. In other words I would satisfice my way through the problems I faced, and I managed to get through a tough-as-nails university program this way.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there is something deeply wrong with the system, I am merely saying that this is a reflection of human nature. Most of us are lazy and will do the bare minimum of work. Unless we make a conscious effort to, we don’t have any incentive to do otherwise. In economics, this is known as the shirking model – the best people can do is maximize their income while minimizing their effort.
If this sounds familiar to you, I guarantee you’re not alone. Until very recently I was right along with you in that same boat. It wasn’t until I switched jobs that I realized the value of being thorough. The value of digging deep into a problem and emerging on the other side with a solution which was thought through, or at least which raised some new questions which need to be answered.
Let’s be real: thoroughness is hard. But that is exactly the reason why it is valuable. If you can consistently work through problems in a thorough manner and think through different angles of a problem and emerge with either the answers or thoughtful questions I guarantee that you will move ahead of your peers in seemingly no time.
Being thorough is the differentiator between most of the work people do in modern organizations and the work of the people who continuously stand out from the crowd. If you can move from a place of satisficing work, to thorough and thoughtful work, you will stand apart from others in the best way imaginable.