Lately, I have been thinking about this notion of working in jobs, even entire industries, that we do not like. Everyone has worked with the eternally pessimistic person that is always trying to leave. I hope to never be this type of person, even while looking for other jobs, because while some people may not be happy in their role, others are very happy. Do not ruin someone else’s work experience because you think your unhappiness is more important.
I work in corporate finance, on the operations side. I straddle between back and middle office. For a period of time, I mentally struggled with this. “I can absolutely do the front-office work, and I Could do it well.” However, over time, I have come to realize a great respect for front-office workers, while also developing a firm disinterest in such roles. I realize that prestige is not my aim. I do not need to work 60–100 hours per week to feel good about the 10 minutes of discussions with neighbors about my role. There is simply too much to do and learn in life. I do not want to waste my life in a role that gives nothing back, outside of a salary.
I do, however, understand the draw to working in these roles which extend beyond the prestige element. The draw to being surrounded by extremely intelligent and hardworking people is incredibly appealing. My rebuttal here is that although this type of work is a pre-requisite to a thriving economy, we need more people to seek roles in technology that are blossoming and creating significant, lasting value. Yes, banking creates value. I am well-aware, and I know that this industry attracts a certain kind of person. But for those in the industry not chasing money, not chasing the envy of their peers, but instead seeking a challenge and competent surroundings, need to seek out work with cutting-edge technologies.
I hope to not sound hypocriphal. I have not left my secure role at the bank. I have not sought a horizonal move to a financial firm because my operational work, while stimulating, also affords me ample time to work on side projects which actually intrigue me and, as far as I can tell, are creating value for the world. At first, I found Operations overwhelmingly boring. Now, having worked for companies in all areas of the company life cycle, I see the tremendous beauty in a structured and effective operations system. The systems of operations are the backbone, and I consider myself lucky to have been given the opportunity to work with a great company on structuring our operations. In a sense, yes, I am a cog in a very, very large wheel. But in another sense, I have taken the time to step back and see how my cog looks in the entirety of the wheel. I see how the wheel that is my company functions, as well as how other companies function. Understanding the broader business landscape has proven beneficial, and has opened my eyes to better methods of performing in areas that might not directly tie together with banking, such as the non-profit I run.
This long diatribe is my brain dissecting much of the statements I have heard from my colleagues, while also realizing my own thought process towards work. I realized quickly into becoming a professional that realizing truly what impact you want to see is necessary in order to truly be satisfied while you are alive. Some people are born to be bankers — great. Others are intelligent, born to run a plumbing company, but socially forced into banking. Priorities are critical. Don’t work in a job you don’t like — that’s my advice.