A little piece on career
July 1, 2016 § Leave a comment
Career is important, not just because it gave you financial means. Its also have a profound impact on your social life. A person who had a career will have two lives. A personal life – time spent with family, friends or time spent at your own convenience. Then, the second. An office life (or maybe life spent in a company for those who are not working in office) – life spent with a group of people (often regard as colleague) to generate financial gain.
Now, when you had two lives, often when one of the lives gave you some stress, you had another one to compensate the stress. For example if you had a hyperactive kids running and wrecking the house, you will come to office with some relief, as the office is quite and it gave you a different set of moods ( if you had a quite and peaceful office of course).
Career also will make you more fulfill with life. You will met with different sort of peoples (good & bad), some of them eventually became your friend (if you are lucky some may also become your spouse). You have a mean to express feeling and talk about family, which will gave a much more objective advice as they are not your family and did not hold any interest on your problem. You have a mean to socialize and build a genuine friendship.
Career also a good thing because it gave you an objective, a mission to be done. You have something that make you busy. A busy person will appreciate time more than the people who had plenty of them. It will also shape you over time, as you undergone certain training, it gave you a good knowledge on something, and if you stay long enough on your career you will eventually become a specialist or subject matter expert in your career.
Of course not everyone journey is smooth sailing, there are always a hurdle to overcome along the way. Most of us need to juggle our career and family, or career and study, or whatever. But do stand and keep holding on, as winter come to an end you will see flowers blossom all the way.
When I finished my bachelor study, I don’t really know which way to go. But a deep gut inside me (which now I’m regretting) told me that I wasn’t ready yet to swim in the real ocean. I’m still passionate to learn about the industry and still don’t grow a passion to work in the industry. So I take a middle path, a path that put me still within the academia. I enrolled as a research assistant in one of the leading technical university, at the same time doing a master degree which enable me to get a salary out of an industrial grant.
I really love learning new things, experimenting new hypothesis, talk about ideas, and the best part is I am paid doing so. After I sailed about a year and a half then come the storm. The storm does not came all of a sudden, it built up over time. I managed to learn that the management politics inside the lab was pretty nasty. Because I was attached with a certain supervisor which was not get a liking from many staff, many of my job came to a halt. Everyday there will be a drama and I cannot passed the bureaucracy. But along the way, I keep holding on trying my luck to get through.
The turning point came when I get married. Marriage set a different rule for me. It was a commitment and it come with financial obligation. My salary at that time depend on industrial grant, sometimes it came late, there are time I did not get paid for more than 3 months. Finally, I decided it was not worth the fight. After one and a half year I started to wrote letters and sending resume across the web. It was not long when finally I packed my bags and move on.
I managed to land a job in a multi-national non-vessel operating container carrier (NVOCC) which had their headquarter in India (or maybe Singapore, the hierarchy of the company is a little bit confusing). NVOCC is pretty much the same as Liners, the only different is that they did not own any container ship. The work environment is really tough, there are a lot of pressure. Everything need to be done correctly and within stipulated time. Any mistakes or delay is a lost revenue. Out of three new colleague that enter the company with me, the first guy only last for a month, the second one is a lady. She last a little bit longer, many time she would literally cried in the office, she was dismissed after about 3 months after making some huge mistake which cost the company big money.
Although the working environment is a little bit tough, lot of pressure. I managed to get through. Most of the time when I came to the office on Monday, the only thing that came in my mind was “Oh God, please let me survive these 5 days”. And after a while the pressure become my routine, I’ve learn how to dodge here and there to remain functional. One day, the CEO came to our office. To my delight he shared a same habit with me, which was reading. We talked about so many book that we had commonly read, it was a very pleasant conversation (the same CEO who interviewed me before I join the company).
My romantic relation with the company come to an end when my wife is approaching her due. At that time I still lived 300 kilometers away from my wife. I traveled once a month to meet her. When I talk to HR that I needed extra holidays to be with my wife, they simply did not allow me. I started thinking, I don’t want to be a husband that was not there during the birth of our first child. I made up my mind, after 6 months I’m leaving the company.
I hand over my resignation letter to my manager one week earlier. He was shocked, so does my other senior colleague. They tried to talk to me about it, that I’m doing fine and I have a bright prospect if I choose to stay. I explained my position, they finally accepted the fact that I have chosen my path. My manager said to me that if I ever change my mind, just give him a call or drop a line on skype, he will talk to the management on skipping the hassle of getting me back employed. I thanked him, gave him a hand shake and said goodbye.
This time around I don’t have any plan on my career. I’ve save some money to keep me alive for about 3 months unemployed just in case if I cannot penetrate the labor market fast enough. But my thought at that time was just to be with my wife, be with her on the day she gave birth and help her during recovery until she can stand on her feet again.
As I arrived in Kedah, even before my wife gave birth, I got a call from a friend asking my help to substitute a teacher that resign recently, he said that the students in the school he helped to run need immediate replacement as they approaching their exam. I explained my situation that I am not yet prepared for any commitment. My initial plan was to be with my wife along the process of giving birth. He said that the management will proposed a flexible working time to accommodate my situation. He arrange me an interview.
After the interview and discussion with the whole family, an accord was achieved. I will go to school to teach after I sent my wife to work, and went back early to fetch her back from work. After she gave birth, I am there all morning and only went to school after my mother-in-law was back from her work. I have to drive about 1 hour to reach the school and 1 hour to get back from school. This is pretty much my routine until my wife fully recovered and able to attend the newborn with little external help.
After a while, I felt in love with teaching. The idea of being a teacher strike me deep. What is a better profession than to educate and shape future generation? After the school session has ended and my wife has entered back the work force, I’m in dilemma. Some of people told me that it was a waste of talent for me to drop off from the industry. But when I surrounded with students, when I saw my teaching help them better understand Mathematics & Physics, its hard for me to see where was the ‘waste of talent’ is. Nevertheless, I accepted the principal offer to continue teaching and brushed off the idea of joining back the industry for a while. It gave me some time to give it a deep thought before I came to any conclusion.
One critical factor for me to consider joining back the industry is the economy. It is hard to maintain even fundamental subsistence to raise a family if you’re underpaid, even if you love the job. After a few months, I started to update my CV again. With a few clicks on Jobstreet, I managed to get an interview as a data analyst position in an MNC. The job description suit me well and I get paid a decent salary. But, I never actually quit teaching. Before I leave, I’ve made a promise to the principal that I would come to the school at night to gave a free tuition to the students and I kept that promise. Now I am paid to do the job I love at the same time having time to contribute to educate future generation.
The point I want to make from this long writing is never afraid of switching job, until you find the one that suit you well. For me, there will be no perfect career, you always have to trade something with something else. For example, to have a career you may have to sacrificed some time with the family. But even there is no perfect career, you can always find the one that suit you. You may not have much time with your family, but you had a balance time, adequate to be with your wife and children.
For me a good career is not just about the pay. I’m not saying decent pay is not important, it is why we work at the first place. But to feel content with the job is derived from many factors. The work environment, type of colleague at work, the attitude of your manager/supervisor, travel distance from home to office, how your effort being valued and compensated, whether or not the job give you a meaning to your life, and maybe a thousand more reasons. We may not have them all, but we can always strive to find a better one, the one we are comfortable with. Don’t ever be afraid of change.
As life does not get better by chance, it get better by change.