About six years ago, I bid farewell to the good ol’ student life and before I knew it, I found myself in a whole new world – the work force. I remember feeling very emo about starting work because 1) I wasn’t ready to be an “adult”, 2) no more flexible schedules and 3) no more semester breaks. However, my mindset took a 180-degree turn when I realised that I can finally spread my wings and fly, earn my own income and do whatever I wanted with it. #yeahbaby
“Own income! Show me the money!”
Although I have gained a fair amount of experience at different organizations since I started working, I still feel like a fish fresh out of the water. There are so many things I have yet to learn, so much more that I have yet to see and so many steps I have yet to climb. I honestly thought that by now, I would have seen it all! I guess my expectations did not really tally with the realities of working. Here is what the working world has taught me, so far (I’m still learning even as I write this article).
1. If You Score That Perfect Dream Job, Consider Yourself Very Lucky
“My dream job is to look busy with Instagram running in the background.”
Expectation: When I first started out, I was lucky enough to score a part time job at an entertainment company. I figured it would be a good opportunity for me to learn how the industry worked and maybe get a permanent job there too. It felt like my dreams were finally coming true! I envisioned myself managing celebrities, rubbing shoulders with other famous celebrities, being spoilt with unlimited supply of awesome freebies, proudly showing off what I do and maybe wriggle my way into the “cool” crowd.
Reality: Yes, those perks were legit but I was nowhere near it at all. I found the role very challenging and demanding (albeit part time), I was often shouted at for the tiniest mistakes I made and since I was not performing very well, I ended up helping out with very mundane stuff, which I didn’t mind because I got so terrified of the bigger tasks. Slowly, I found myself despising anything related to entertainment. What can I say? I surrender easily and was not very matured then. That was when I decided my time was up and I should find a new dream elsewhere.
2. Most Fresh Grads Start Off With Less Than RM2,000 A Month
“I’m a graduate! I can demand for high wages now!”
Expectation: Way back then, I was told that the minimum expected salary for a fresh graduate was more than RM2,000. That was the “market price”, they said. I should not settle for anything lower than that, they said. Okay, duly noted.
Reality: I later found out that most fresh grads start off with less than RM2,000 a month. It all depends on the organization and the position applied, that was the reality of it. When I went for my first few job interviews, they asked me what my expected salary was. I proudly gave them my expected amount and they just smiled, like as if they knew how clueless I was. I never heard from them afterwards, though. I guess they thought I was asking too much for a fresh graduate. Lesson of the day: Be humble, find out from experienced peers about the minimum wage for fresh graduates, and so on. I’m sure they will gladly provide valuable tips and advice when it comes to career matters.
3. Scoring Straight As Does Not 100% Guarantee A High Paying Job
“So if I manage to get all this books into my head, I’ll get a job”
Expectation: The harder you study, the better your grades are. The better your grades are, the brighter your future will be. Ah, the wise words of our elders. If only I had a penny for every time someone said that to me, I would be rich!
Reality: Sorry to break it to you but book smarts do not necessarily have that extra edge. Don’t get me wrong, our elders gave us pretty useful advice to live by but I guess we should not take it too literally. I was taught that we still need to start from the bottom in order to get to the top. That way, we get to learn so much more than what’s written in text books.
4. It’s Possible To Wander Far From Our Starting Point
“At your marks, get set, ok now go find out what you’re right for”
Expectation: After three years of assignments and exams after exams, I graduated with a degree in marketing. What’s next? I shall take the marketing field by storm! I was all geared up to get a job as a marketing executive at a reputable company. I had no clue what exactly a marketing executive did so I decided I would learn as I go and go with the flow. No big deal.
Reality: I attended a few job interviews for a marketing executive role and wasn’t too keen with the job scope. I felt like it didn’t match my slightly introvert personality. I was more interested in writing but I didn’t have any writing knowledge or background which made me not know where to start. So, I started as a simple admin executive (far from what marketing is all about) and slowly but surely found the right path.
“From my good judgement, I can safely say that writers are neat and cool…”
That’s how I became what I am today – a contented copywriter. I’m glad that I managed to turn my hobby into a career because it makes my job so much more fun, despite the challenges that I still face along the way. I finally feel like I fit in. I guess what I’m trying to convey is, always be prepared to expect the unexpected. If things don’t work out the way you want it to, it’s alright. Plenty of windows of opportunity await you. You’ll just need to take your time to figure out where they are.
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