When I graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering, I was so full of optimism. According to word out there, the world was my oyster. I was ready to grab the bull by the horns. Yada yada yada. The only thing I seemed to be doing was overuse cliches and mix metaphors.
It didn’t take long before I was looking into better options, but since I had debts to pay, I had to suck it up for some time. Here are a few things I learned from the experience:
1. It’s not Rocket Science. I was pretty disappointed by that. After having my intellect challenged for so long, I didn’t get too excited about plugging numbers into spreadsheets and typing up other numbers into reports. In one assignment, I was supposed to run a Macro on Excel and transfer the result from one location to another. I called my Partner-in-commiseration and said, “I feel like a finger. All I do all day long is click, click, click.”
2. It pays to have a Partner-in-commiseration. My friend and I worked on the same design project during our senior year in uni, and then we landed jobs in the same company, so she naturally became my Partner-In-Commiseration. Commiserating together made the whole experience more bearable, because no matter how bad the day went, there was always lunch time.
3. You’re in charge of your own learning. In school, we got inundated by information. Come the Real World and people kept their knowledge to themselves. What made it worse was the fact that the economic crisis hit 4 months into our jobs, and people were too scared of losing their jobs, they clammed up double hard in case they let something slip.
4. Office culture is more important than you think. Enough said.
5. Nobody really cares about what you know. What your boss really cares about is the bottom line and how what you do is going to help it. That means shredding 98 % of the knowledge garnered during four years of study using a garburator, and using an excel sheet to calculate the remaining 2 %.
6. Soft skills do matter. What mattered more than doing good work was showing the world that you did good work. Five years after quitting my job, a friend told me, “You would never have survived the corporate job, even if you had stayed. You’re too quiet.”
It’s good I didn’t wait five years to figure that out. It took two years for my debts to clear and I was out of there. Like a flash.
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