Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Reflections on the old job and new beginnings

I have very mixed feelings about the job I just left. On the one hand, I didn't walk away feeling like I had accomplished what I wanted to, that I had made a real, valuable contribution. Some of the blame for that falls on my shoulders and some on the shoulders of my former employer. They certainly made almost no attempt to use my skills and abilities and after 6 months on the job, I definitely gave up trying to find a place for me there (although I don't think there was a place for me there in any case).

The situation I was put into was complicated by my sub-standard Spanish (when i started) and by the fact that I was sold a dog and pony show in the interview and the job turned out to be nothing like what had been discussed (the interview was in english, so it wasn't like I misunderstood). I was particularly displeased to find out on my first day that the job I had been hired for was not the job I interviewed for and that was the beginning of the end. Over the course of the first few months, I went to my boss seeking to define my role and, to his credit, I did write a number of research reports that helped form the basis of our new strategy (not that I ever got credit for it though). But when the boss was fired in June, so to went any hope of me finding a constructive place in the company.

Reflecting on this, I know that my expectations were artificially high. In the interview, they spoke of using me as a liason between the Component and the US Embassy officials. That appealed to me. They were specific about my experience giving presentations in english and other various aspects. None of those things ever came to pass. Nor were they even possible, as I found out later.

I leave the rest of the details as they're not terribly important to my point. When I left yesterday, I left with my head hanging low. Not because my team didn't appreciate me (they did) but because I hadn't met my own personal expectations for the job. I didn't give my all in that position except for the moments in which I had real substantive things to do. I should feel good about the contributions that I made. Instead, I feel like I slighted myself by not doing more, by not being more aggressive (emotional and language components aside).

Life is a big mystery, they say. What does it all mean? Why are we here? What is the point aside from the accumulation of wealth, items, etc.? I don't have any more answers to those questions than the greatest philosophers and thinkers of time. But I know what I like and I know what I want to do. And it isn't to be situated in a job that I can't grow in, a job that I can't learn anything from, a job that is more routine than anything.

As humans, we have to decide what is best for us as individuals and as a species. I don't have any more answers than anyone else, but I know that if I am to be happy, I need to have professional opportunities in which I can give a full effort, in which I can excel, and in which I can feel like I'm making some kind of difference. Hopefully I will have the opportunity in my next position.


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