My favourite professor once admonished my career decision saying, “for your first job, don’t accept the offer just because of the money, but accept the job that you think you can learn from it most.”
He was right, but I failed to articulate its true meaning. I received 7 intriguing job offers and accepted the one with the highest pay check. Little did I know, the vicissitude of ecstasy comes with such a priceless reciprocity.
Joining IBM was the best decision to have ever made before my first chapter of real life began, I thought. It was the reason I chose to study Computer Engineering, as well as the goal in my bucket list. When the opportunity arrived, my judgement was clouded with the facade of extrinsic motivation. It was as if my dream has finally come true.
In real life there is no denying that a routine job is a routine job. Like many corporate jobs, my main task as a technical consultant in my first project was to test the back end performance of two banking systems (Bank of Ayuddhaya and Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi - MUFJ) and made sure that bashes were running successfully, while all transactions were performed during the integration. Although it sounded exciting, what I saw at my workplace is far from what many people would describe as “passion-driven”.
As a Design Thinking mentor for Asian Leadership Academy, I approach my everyday problem with this human-centered mindset. I made a rough calculation and found that with 8 hours in the office, I need to add 4 more hours to my day as a rough estimation for a round trip from home to work. Besides, the longer I stay active on the road, the higher the chances of road rage. One day, when I was planning my itinerary to work, there was a spark of idea.
I wish there is an app that shows you available parking spaces nearby where I can park my car and use public transportation to get to my office, instead. Traffic congestion is never predictable in Bangkok. Unless you can fly, commuting to work has become a bigger predicament than my job as a consultant. Most people need to add an extra hour in search for a parking spot.
With that instantaneous idea, I discovered that most of my friends at different client sites are confined with this same problem. We found that commuting to work is more challenging than our work itself.
Experiencing traffic congestion everyday, to and from work, provides me an opportunity to solve this problem and concoct something substantial enough to help our country.
Since, it would be juvenile to leave things unfinished at work, I waited until my banking project was completed and resigned from what I thought was my dream job to start a new venture with my friend who founded parkingduck.com. It didn’t take long to realize that something isn’t your true passion, but the longer you try to deny it the more insufferable you will feel.
I felt tenacious and obligated to improve our platform and talk to our users everyday to find out what they like and what we can do better. It was then that I discovered the true meaning and my true purpose in life. When you do something that provides meaning to other people’s lives even one expression of gratitude is worth more than anything I’ve ever received, because you can feel the honesty in the tone.
If I juxtapose the lessons I've learned in 8 months with IBM and 6 months with parking duck, the difference in terms of impact that was contributed to the society is prodigious. I’ve learned that when you do something with true passion, every obstacle looks so small that you will keep fighting for it. Whereas when something you do is only a duty, just so you can get to the end of the day, sooner or later it will demotivate and enervate every part of your soul. Life will then not be worth living.
My professor was right, choosing income over knowledge for your first job is a mistake. However, I am contented with the wrong decisions that I’ve made. Because the only way I can know it was a mistake is by making that mistake. Life is resilient as it turned out. If it wasn’t because I’ve made that mistake, I would have never discovered that my true passion is not belied by money or substance, but the fact that my skill sets can turn an idea into a tangible impact to the society.