I always felt robotic and dull to get up early in the morning, to shave, brush, suit up and board the tube for a job that although was very well paid, was nothing more than bland, uninteresting and not aligned to the aspirations I had as a student. But something changed and for the better.
I came from a fairly affluent family in India to study MEng at Sheffield. I arrived in the UK based on the dreams and visions my father had for me. He laid out everything for me including the university, the course I would study, the room I would live in and even the food I would eat. I did well at university and was selected for a coveted graduate job at a big investment bank in London. I had the obvious aspirations: to get exposure to clients, work long hours on meaningful projects that affects baseline, travel around as part of the big projects and climb the career ladder in this numbers driven industry. The first few months went by well but gradually the excitement and enthusiasm began to deteriorate. Maybe I was in the wrong place at the wrong time or maybe it was an attitude problem. Maybe I had been watching too many banking movies and fiction books.
The bottom line was that the job wasn’t stimulating, and my job expectations were high.
The people around me were extremely talented, and they were either happy with the security of the standard role, responsibility and money or just glad to have their foot in the corporate door.
But this wasn’t for me and I wasn’t happy. When our team was asked to move outside London as part of the restructuring, the decision to be made redundant was in effect made for me, as I didn’t want to leave London. This was all within only 2 years of graduating.
So how do you define a good career start from a graduate’s perspective? Probably as a well paid job, in your preferred location and field of study. Or working towards your passion or a field of expertise. If it’s both, especially at the graduate level, then you are lucky and should make the most of it. But it isn’t the case for most and that’s where I learned the lesson well.
We are all influenced by what our society thinks. I always imagined the disappointed reaction of my parents and if I didn’t pursue a career in a field of study I paid a fortune for (both time and moneywise). I studied engineering and moved into banking only to leave that job soon afterwards in search of something more satisfying.
Rationale was simple; I thought I would end up wasting ten times more money and time over the next 3-8 years if I continued to pursue something I wasn’t excited about. I soon realized that the society pressure would not crush me and I realized that nothing is above happiness and peace of mind.
As I began my new career there were many uncertainties, but I felt that having focus was essential. I knew what I wanted to experience and achieve long-term and if my current job was taking me there then that it was a waste of my time. Most importantly, I knew I was too well educated as a Sheffield graduate to feel so disillusioned so early on in my career and so I decided to take the plunge and pivot. I dived into the land of start-up and that was the best decision of my life.
Eleven months later I now run my own start-up in London, that I created from scratch to be above a million pound valuation. I interact with clients directly, lead an extremely talented team of 4 and work 15 hours a day on a product that will change the way people browse the web. I feel excited getting up in the morning and satisfied when I go to sleep.
I love my job, am so motivated about the intriguing possibilities of the future my new career offers and am learning 20 times more every day than I did in those 2 years at the corporate job. My advice to you is to take the risks early on. Keep tickling your career bone. Don’t settle for comfort and hustle and hustle smartly. Pivot.
I am Ripul; batch of 2011 from EEE and this is my first blog for the prospective graduates of Sheffield University.