The idea of a career is an interesting thing: countless people graduate from school and start their way from the bottom of an industry until they retire or leave it.
My parents are prime examples, two academic professors who have spent their entire lives employed in the civil service. My mum at least switched careers, my dad has worked in the same building for more than 30 years – minus sabbaticals.
Growing up in such a household, I guess the idea of a career made complete sense. And the plan was apparent too: graduate, get a job, and enjoy it forever.
Except that it’s more than five years since I graduated and that career (the one I want) has not started yet. Instead, I’ve found employment in industries I don’t have a passion for.
On some level, it’s probably my fault. I’ve always felt – and still feel – that I would be best served in a career doing what I enjoy: engineering design of consumer products. But I’ve never been lucky enough to get hired in such a company: in Nigeria, there weren’t (m)any of such companies and since moving away it’s still been tough. But here the problem is different: having gained other experience, I’m not exactly entry level but then people don’t really advertise entry level jobs – they get hired from universities. The listed jobs all require experience that I don’t necessarily have proof of: engineering is such a field that working in it is proof that you have the skills.
So in the meantime, what have I done? Everything.
I write about technology in Africa, I design products in my spare time, I remotely co-organize a meetup group on product development, for work I’m a design researcher and data analyst in the public service.
And then people ask: why did you take the job if it’s not what you wanted? Bills accrue, man. I’ve got bills to pay.
So what type of a career is that? Frankly, I don’t know. I’m searching for the answers too.
On one hand, I’m thinking: would I ever be able to practice engineering design? I’m getting older and probably no one wants to hire an older guy with no experience. Or maybe I give it all I’ve got: develop an online presence as a designer/design engineer posting designs regularly.
On the other hand, I’ve got a job I’m pretty good at: I’ve been promoted two levels in 18 months. It’s in the public service so that’s a career right there, the people are great and my managers genuinely love me. It’s also 40 hours a week, which affects how much you can do on the side. And it’s not designing consumer products, remember that.
Then, there’s the side that maybe if I developed a product that people loved I could be an entrepreneur. I actually tried that with wonda, but hardware is a different ball game – figuring out manufacturing is not a one man thing, and that’s before you even get income.
Anyways, here I am on a Tuesday evening on the subway thinking about these things. Because writing is how I think.
I’ve missed this blog.