That job after that degree

Not too many years ago I was a teenager who shared the dreams of many other teenagers of getting a well-paying job after I completed my degree. I hoped, as many do of that age, that such a job will help me settle down, make enough money, raise a good family -in short, enable me to live happily ever after. It is a dream worthy of desire, but one that may only rarely ever turn to reality.

What brings such notions to young minds I do not know, but it is one that I have seen year after year as the newbies begin their professional education. It may be because of stories perpetrated by parents and relatives or may even be real life examples of people who pretend to be in such positions. Or perhaps it is the financial situation that most youth find themselves in.

If I have learnt anything, then it is that working towards a happily-ever-after future may be as futile as a dog chasing it’s own tail (may be that’s an exaggeration but you get my point). Wanting a job that will allow one to lead a life of stability without much struggle might just be dream, especially in today’s economic climate.

Many students come to read the ICT awareness pages on this blog to find information that may help them decide whether ICT is the right place for them. In the comments or by email, I get asked a question over and over again that pertains to the ‘placements’ offered to it’s graduates.

“I have admission for BChem at LIT, Nagpur and BTech Dyes in ICT, Mumbai. Will I get a better paying job if I choose ICT? What is the average salary offered to the graduating students?”

It is a vital question indeed, but should not be the only one on which the decision is made. It is not a bad thing to think about what one may achieve from studying at an institute, but it would certainly be unfair if money earned from a job after is considered the most important criteria.

As I mentioned before, I also, as a teenager, dreamt of an elusive job like the one you seek, but I am happy that I did not decide to come to ICT solely on that piece of information. Because within a year of my time in ICT, I had rid myself of that notion. From wanting to be a graduate with a fat pay-check, I decided to pursue higher studies at a student salary.

Many factors played a role in this change of direction. Today, I am glad that I took that step and can cite many reasons to discount the high-salary job as one of the decisive factors of one’s career.

It is important to remember that education of any kind will serve its purpose only when it opens doors for you that you did not know existed (by teaching you things that you did not know about before!). I certainly wasn’t thinking that I can become a scientist when I chose to do chemical engineering. Many things can happen when you spend time being educated with a group of smart people. That should probably figure as an important factor in deciding where you would like to get educated or where you would like to work when you finish.

Amongst all these news articles about IITians being paid huge salaries and IIM grads getting into the world’s top companies, one forgets about the day to day stuff. Behind all those big salaries and names there is a job which one needs to do everyday. A job that will involve going to the office, mixing up with colleagues, working on projects and delivering results. That daily stuff will be really hard, if you choose a job for the salary it offers and disregard your interest in the work. You may be able to survive the job if you are capable enough, but all that money will give you no satisfaction if the job is not of your liking.

Daniel Pink describes three things that give us great satisfaction and help us perform better: autonomy, mastery and purpose. You should go watch this talk to learn more and probably that will make it easy for you to see why people leave a very high paying Goldman Sachs’ position to work for a start-up.

It’s like the MasterCard line, ‘There are some things that money can’t buy, for everything else there is that high-paying job’.

What if you could control the drive within you?

Anything you do gets done faster and produces better results if you have the drive to do it. A drive that pushes you, that sets new limits and that forces you to seek new sources to power yourself.

When you see someone with that drive within themselves, you can immediately recognise it. They have a different persona: they are brimming with confidence, they bring great enthusiasm to the table and they make a difference to the people around them. Their work is a source of inspiration to their peers or to the generations to follow.

There may be many reasons for why you have the drive to do what you do. It may be because that thing is on your to-do list, or it might be something that you have wanted all your life, or anything in between. The drive might exist because of some fear that has been troubling you or because of that anxiety which you find unsettling. It could stem from a desire to take revenge or simply because of an inspiration to do something for your loved one.

Whatever may be the reasons, having the drive to do something is a powerful tool to be able to leverage. Not only does it give you an edge over your competitor but it also gives you a lot more pleasure in what you do. It makes you feel that the effort you put in to doing something is worth it. That drive enables you to overcome the pain to experience the joys.

Now here’s the million dollar question:

What if you could control your drive, turn it up when you want?

I don’t claim that I have the answer and to be frank, it will be hard to convince me that there is only one answer. Each individual will have their methods to crank up ‘the drive’ they possess. And I think it is good to have more than one absolute way of being able to create a powerful force within you which will help you achieve your goals.

I certainly have my multiple ways of generating that drive for myself. One that I would like to talk about today is the method of raising the bar or the method of trivialising the achieved.

Here is how it works: Say you have just achieved X and have now you set yourself a new goal Y. You can now generate that drive to do Y by reflecting upon your previous achievement, X. You find ways of convincing yourself why Y, if achieved, will be a bigger achievement than X. That is a perfectly sound reason for you to push yourself to achieve Y. At the same time you may also find aspects of X which you can consciously trivialise because now you have the skill/confidence to be able to do X again. For Y though, you will need new skills and extra confidence. Another reason for why you should go after Y given X has been achieved.

The drive generated by this method can be as strong as you want it to be. You will have to put in the effort to better reason for Y over X.

The biggest advantage of this method is that it can set in to motion a machine that generates ‘a drive’ for you. All you need to do is make sure you fuel it up when necessary. Fuelling the tank up shouldn’t be that hard, after all it is a simple trick that you consciously play with your own mind.