In Search for a Career


Random Observation/Comment #219: The waiting period after the interview for a response is the most nerve racking experience.  All I can do is think about how I answered each question and try my best to see how the interviewers could have interpreted my answers.  In many cases, I find my own faults and smack my head, but there is absolutely nothing I can do except wait for my results.  As the days pass, I know my chances for getting the position decline, yet there is a glimmer of hope that still flickers thinking that I could be an exception and I shouldn’t prematurely guess the result.  I guess the best thing to do is to go shopping and do some sight-seeing to ease my mind.  Thus, I bought a $500 camera and began being distracted ^^.

I wrote a lot about finding my own career in a personal journal instead of this public one because I feared that the companies reading my blog would find it unseemly.  However, now that I think about it, everything I mentioned during the interviews is actually the way I feel about my life moving forward.  I may have made my story convincing enough that I believe it myself o_O.

Based on my experiences in research throughout Cooper, Japan, and Germany, it sounds like I should be aiming for my PhD or becoming some Artificial Intelligence guru.  Instead, I’ve applied to careers involving finance and trading, and I will be working as a technical analyst at Credit Suisse for at least three years. Most people’s first reactions to my plan forward encompass: “WTF!?!”; “What a sell-out!”; “What a waste of talent”; “Wait… Why?”

There’s more than just money in this explanation.  Some of it involves money, of course, but a lot of it is the idea of conformity, acceptance, family, and manipulation of the system.  I think any job I do will allow me to focus on a variety of skills and become an expert in that field, but I feel being tech savvy is external to an everyday 9 to 5.  Staying up-to-date with the newest technology is just a hobby; the progression of the world around me is fascinating and it’s just much less depressing to read about the next up-and-coming robotics advancements than the wars around the world.

I remember when I first joined Credit Suisse as an intern. They had a workshop helping interns narrow down their career plans.  It asked people to rank the importance of different values in their life, most notably: work-life balance, time flexibility, money, location, perks, family time, travel, and job security.  There was a long list of reasonably important things, so I did what I always do: I imagined how life would be in 5 years.  I thought about my mid-life crisis and tried my best to avoid that mental breakdown.

In theory, the career should be enjoyable and include your most passionate interests.  However, in practice, the career usually suffocates all sense of happiness with an overload of bullshit from poor managing or stuck in boring projects.  After a while, you lose touch with the interesting stuff and just follow a set routine.  It leads to boredom and further reevaluation – who wants to do the same thing every day even if you make all the money in the world?  More importantly, who wants to make all the money in the world if you don’t have free time to enjoy it?

Yes, we all have bills to pay and stuff we want, but a lot of life’s pleasures are not that expensive: a warm hug, a refreshing Guinness with close friends, a clever joke, a full day eating cereal and staying in pajammy-jams.  Time seems to be the one thing that traps me – there’s just so much I want to do to get the most out of this short life.  This concept may cause me to be uptight in certain ways, but I’m surprisingly happy with those crossed-off tasks on my to-do list. The tasks on this to-do list revolve around my interests in my hobbies.  I like a lot of things and I try my best to narrow them down to a doable list while also expanding to learn new things, but it’s difficult to get the right balance.  Either way, I am happy that I can always find something to do in my free time.

The location aspect, to me, only seems important based on where my friends, family, and personal community exist.  A bar is just a bar, and a park is just a park.  Yes, New York City is amazing and I would be lying if I could see myself living anywhere else, but it’s really the people that make this my home.  I rather enjoy my time with the inside jokes and sense of being a part of something larger and more important.  I think anything I do should somehow improve upon this concept. Even though it may seem selfish to help myself, the amount of contribution after settling my own issues will balance in the bigger picture.  Although my thoughts have not evolved to include the entire world, at least I could improve the situation of those around me.

So, I guess the main things that drive me are my hobbies and the relationships I have with the people within my community. Luckily, I’ve had a lot of free time to build these before actually starting in finance.  I specifically chose finance because, no matter how much I want to abolish the idea of a monetary system, there will be (within my generation) a level of dependency on this form of economy.  I wish I was brave enough to stop and devote my life to a specific research field and travel the world, but there’s a part of me that wants to move forward and start stability.

The more I see how complicated the world is, the more I find that my goals have always reached too far.  Solving the world problems doesn’t happen with one person, but I can always help solve a few people’s problems with a few smiles and some personal insight.  It took some time to accept that I’m not a unique flower and The One.  The world will live without it and we’ll smile all the same.

“How can I feel abandoned, even when the world surrounds? How can I bite the hand that feeds the strangers all around me? How can I know so many, never really knowing anyone? If I seem super human I have been misunderstood.”

Even though I don’t think I can change the world, this doesn’t mean I won’t contribute to it – I think it just keeps me realistic.  We’re all a part of something bigger, and I’ve realized I can’t always see the bigger picture of it.  Hopefully, I will contribute my share and give myself, and those around me, a reason to live.

~See Lemons Selflessly Selfish