Most of us started our careers in search of a big pay package. We zeroed in on the boom industries, targetted the top-tier companies and tailored our resumes accordingly. We rehearsed our replies to interview questions, altered our attitudes and lifestyles and ourselves to land that ‘perfect job’. And the perfect job was the one that came with the biggest salary slip. Or at least a sizeable brand name that would lead to a bigger salary slip.
I know a lot of people will dispute this and claim to be looking for personal satisfaction, growth, learning etc. I also know several people who jump jobs like crazy, several who look 50 at 25 and a whole city of people who run through a week and spend the weekend sleeping or cribbing about their jobs.
I don’t believe my generation knows what it is looking for. We settle for what other people want for us and in due course of time start to believe all the bait-worm-lines that are fed to us. “Job security”, “stability”, “steady income”, “work experience”. Notice the last one. We think of work experience in terms of number of years clocked in and brand names accumulated. We account for it linearly in neat boxes on our resumes. Experience isn’t entirely quantitative though, is it?
Here’s the thought, neat and simple:
Everyone likes a good paycheck. But some of us forget the four weeks we have to live through before getting to that magic number.
I have probably been very, very lucky. A lot of people don’t consider jobs before M.B.A. as ‘relevant work experience’. Me, I think it was the best starting point I could have had. Not only did my first job give me the direction for my future career, it has been a treasured memory in my professional scrap-book. I have also had some disastrous experiences that I would rather forget. I don’t, however….those episodes gave me very tangible value on my resume. So yes, that’s important too. The “I hate this job-I hate this company-but its a great name to have”. Stepping stones, I can call them…not experiences.
Finally when it comes to it, what makes ‘the dream job’?
Personally…and this is my personal belief only….I don’t believe that anyone in the corporate world is truly living a dream. That is something artists, scientists and a few entrepreneurs do. Anyone who is willing to fit into a system someone else designed, do what someone else tells them to do is being practical and ambitious perhaps….driven by reality rather than passion. I don’t think it is a bad thing. Everyone dreams but some of us don’t need to do big things to live our dreams.
We all do however, need to feel like we are doing something meaningful, worthwhile, productive. Something that deserves appreciation, something that validates our existance. A good job is one that can do all these things. If money was the only thing driving people, then multinational corporations wouldn’t need to have a human resources department at all. People would just flock in when money was thown at them and stay till the money lasted. In reality, employees quit, people have nervous breakdowns, stress levels build up, people get hired and fired, performances decline. There has to be something more complex than a simple number on the payslip.
These are my early days and I’m as yet learning. Even while I don’t know what I want, I am getting a clearer idea of what I don’t want. What I don’t want is to feel lousy about my work and my performance and myself. What I don’t want is to get up in the morning feeling awful about going to work. What I don’t want is to have to spend the major part of my day and week with people I hate and who hate me. What I don’t want is to think of weekends as parole time.
I get stressed. I don’t particularly love all my colleagues. And I don’t always do as well as I want to. But at the end of each day I get the feeling that I’m a little closer to what I want…that I’m moving in some direction. And at the start of a new day, buried under the sleepiness and tension, there is hope.
I think that is a good job.