Philosophy presents the notion that opposites characterize the world. Pondering on the statement lends it some credence; would a man know truly the experience of hot without cold, dryness without water to wet, joy without misery that causes him or her to weep? On a higher level, one could ascertain my true nature by listening to the following negatives: I am not female, I am not a child, I am not unemployed, and I am not on the business side of the company. A person unaware of how most large companies separate business and information technology (IT) resources might have trouble with the last negative identifier, but those with work experience similar to mine could tell you with enough context that I am an under 30, male, working on a company’s IT side. From my lowly position on an organization chart, trace all the way up and you would reach the Chief Technology Officer, the CTO. Ever since an unfavorable work experience, what side of a company I call home matters greatly to me.
Starting in the workforce, the concept of a career identity neither mattered nor registered to me. I graduated with an Industrial Engineering, focusing on Supply Chain Management, from a school with the best program in the country. My graduating GPA hung on the low end and I had no companies seeking me out for an interview. My first round of the game consisted of just one offer from a company that realized the potential and the fire in my young millennial belly for a chance to prove my worth. I dedicated two years to this company, gaining both valuable experience and loyalty statuses to die for in flights and hotels. Towards the end of my tenure, despite the exhaustion and becoming jaded at my customer, I felt valued because of the noticeable and unique skills I honed from two go-lives and weeks of onsite travel. Like a health-conscious person who has worked out enough to observe muscle definition in the mirror, I noticed my career identity, the soft and hard skills that would distinguish my mark in the workforce, begin taking shape.
A recruiter from my second company contacted me on LinkedIn. The department she worked for had formed a new team and roles that needed filling. After a phone screening and an onsite interview, they extended me an offer which I accepted within 24 hours. Looking back, some deep-seated insecurity played into my decision for sure. This well-known company wanted my skills and planned to pay me more, albeit not a great jump. What does it matter that I did not understand what the role would entail completely as figuring it out constitutes part of the fun.
My co-analyst graduated from the same college and program as myself, both of us eager to prove our worth. I settled into my role while he appeared molded specifically for his role. In no time at all, he became my supervisor’s favorite between us. Although I took no delight in our supervisor neither personally nor professionally, I do not blame her for this fact. Upon parting ways with the company, I saw no need to keep in touch with anyone, so I hope that he has continued to excel careerwise. Our night and day experiences left me embarrassed with a bitter taste, causing me to mitigate the truth from myself and others, up until the time of this writing. I say confidently that my choice of topic serves two purposes. If the truth will set you free, the whole truth will make you grateful for that freedom.
I began my day with confidence accompanied by heavy eyes as I stayed up late preparing a document of the new process the company hired me to formulate for a meeting with both my supervisor and her boss, my team’s director. Both women shattered that confidence and any hopes I had in progressing with the company. My delivery accomplished nothing and came nowhere near to the solution they sought. Including myself, anyone could spot that truth miles away. The room became stuffy, my mouth became dry, and my forehead became sweaty. It seemed my supervisor had insight into the meeting not going in my favor, as she reminded me of my probationary status - allowing the company to fire me for whatever reason - while instructing me to read and to sign an employee evaluation littered with more unsatisfactory marks about my performance than I had witnessed. We exchanged terse and uncomfortable words about my status. I cannot even recall whether or not they chose mercifully to give me another chance, however, it did not matter. Securing my old role quicker than the time I wasted on my junk process, I gave a 24-hour notice and turned in my badge, laptop, and phone the following day.
I never revealed the whole truth to those who inquired of my experience, just telling them about how I did not enjoy the “big company” experience and that I became disheartened with the work, not that those over me thought my pithy performance merited termination. Shaken pride does not describe the whole tragedy; the experience marred my self-worth and my budding career identity. In hindsight, the company should have filled the role with an internal resource, one familiar already with existing business processes and procedure to fashion the untried. Yet, at the same time, I should never have rushed in blinded by higher pay and promised prestige. I sacrificed what I see now as too valuable to not consider.
In the time since that fateful day, I have immersed myself in roles that felt molded to my skillset. Similar to that company, my current company sought me out and so far I have cherished this experience. I foresee continued development and untamed growth in what I do best here. For a while, I had no desire to admit my lack of talent for certain parts of a business, and truly who would? However, pondering on it more, a plethora of roles exist suited to what I excel in. True, philosophers of antiquity posited that opposites color the world and life experience. An opposite attributes a characteristic of what an object or abstraction is not, but what joy does one derive of an identity based on negatives? Time has taught me that my professional identity and worth root themselves not in what they lack, but rather in what mountains they move and whom they might inspire.