I remember the couple of months after I graduated when I was looking for a “real job”. It was hard, but not just because I was joining thousands of people looking for jobs using conventional methods. The system is flawed.
My qualifications were in a Hospitality field and I was aiming to enter the hotel industry. I did not have any previous experience working in any hotel, having only worked at restaurants and fast-food joints.
I then asked myself, how am I going to beat other people who have:
- Better qualifications at more prestigious and well-known institutes.
- People who have practical experience in a hotel environment, or just those with more experience in the Hospitality field.
- Proving to the HR staff with a piece of paper that cannot show them my ability to deal with customers, be proactive, clear communication, positive attitude, enthusiasm, patience, body-language, and so forth. Worse, it might be a software that’s filtering me out of the thousand applicants. (Sure our human qualities can be shown during the interview process, but if we’re already cut off before given the chance, it all goes to waste.)
I might sound like I’m whinging, at first I thought I was too. But I couldn’t settle doing menial, average work. I couldn’t stand surrounded by negative people who complained about their jobs, their bosses, the governments, how they’re not getting paid enough, and how their life is shit, without even wanting to make a change, all talk. I couldn’t settle with trading my time to get paid at an hourly rate, doing repetitive work that can be replaced by someone else, just because I have to pay the bills, just because society told me to. Deep down I believed there’s more to life than being average, fitting in doing mediocre work just to pay the bills, just to keep living. (Living? Are you really living? Or are you just robots doing the same thing day in day out?)
These thoughts surround me but I did not know where to go at that time, so I followed the road frequently travelled. I compromised my ideals and took the traditional route. I continued on to revamping my resume and sending them out to employers, which managed to get me a couple of interviews at hotels. But I was unsuccessful. In fear of having no income week in week out, I accepted a job as a team member at a local burger joint which paid me enough to live by. Yes I did learn something, from specific cooking skills to managing the business, but to a certain extent you can only learn so much because you’re limited to the framework, the system.
After nearly two months, I was fortunate enough to be given a job opportunity by a friend working in an information management company. I then entered the corporate environment, thinking that this was my first “real job”. It was the same average, repetitive work, paid by the hour, following instructions, and keeping your head down. No. This wasn’t it. Yes there was job security and a steady paycheck, but if the tradeoff is having to become an easily replacable cog in a gigantic machine, then no. This is not where I want to be.
Having said that, I’m grateful. Not just for the experience but for the assurance that I was right, bringing my principles stronger in resolve. I don’t want to work for somebody else.
I still work 9-5, but I now use my spare time to educate myself with books and guides from people who have the same mindset, who don’t conform and give in to the status quo. Who aim to do remarkable work rather than being average. Who aim to take action. Not just talk.
Everyone doesn’t need to be an entrepreneur or freelancer, and we can’t. But surely, we can step up and start doing remarkable work rather than just being a cog in a giant machine.