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My Way In: The Big Corporate Myth

This is now my fourth post of My Way In, and in my first post I mentioned a Big Corporate Myth so I’ll now expand on it:

There is a Big Corporate Myth, forced on us lost students or young employees, that we need to invest some good years into training with a big company for the sake of credibility on our CV. We are often pressured into conforming rather than encouraged to diverge. And to be fair I think that if you really don’t know what to do – it’s perfectly correct to take the ‘rational’ option that has the highest chance of helping you in the future. But the problem comes in when it becomes an excuse to never go and find out what you really want. Because after you do one year, they sell you that a real experience only counts after two years, and then two roles, which land up becoming four years and then you are so close to that promotion….And next thing you know you feel like you invested so much you are stuck.

And if you do not know what you want to do, how can you say you need that company on your CV. There are many jobs out there (and probably most of the really interesting jobs) who will look very lightly at your big corporate CV tick. Who will value it for maybe a year or two, but the extra years after that are just a waste. You proved your point – move on. And the only way you can find out if you need this wonderfully-high-esteemed-by-society-experience is to find out WHAT ON EARTH YOU WANT.

And maybe you just don’t know. Or maybe it is a corporate career. Or maybe the investment makes sense. I am not trying to prove the point that all corporations and corporate jobs are bad or boring or unrewarding. In fact at University my best guess was being a Financial Analyst. I actually enjoy maths (the best part is I can do it while listening to music – I should have seen the clues) and wanted a people orientated job and so you are advised to work in a big corporation. Corporations, like they say, let you do anything (different industries, roles, assignments). But what they don’t tell you is their addictive status of success may lock you into unfulfillment. Also because we give ourselves less freedom in our career choices than in our relationships.

So I tried in the hopes of finding a part of anything that I liked. After a short while it was clear that not only was I completely in the wrong company, I also doubted corporate finance altogether. Even observing people at 4 times my level, sure their job seemed more rewarding, but it’s definitely not what I wanted to do with my life. And it seemed that if I wanted to really be happy it would take a bolder change than a different role or getting promoted or moving to a similar industry related company.

That’s when you need to start searching for the next thing. Because saying I’ll just keep doing this job till I find out what I like is not necessarily going to work. But how? Well I wrote about it in my last post and in short: get into the habit of investing into discovering your passion every morning. I also read this wonderfully intense article last week called How To Have A Year That Matters by Umair Haque on the Harvard Business School blog that suggested answering the question: what about the world breaks your heart? Whatever you feel really truly emotional about –that’s what you should go out there to change or work on or create.

And remember that when you find what you love, what you are ready to fight for; it’s not an incomplete CV that will get in your way. Because when your head, your heart, your morals and genuine motivation align to achieve something, it’s a whole other ball game.