How ANY job can help you realise what you want

First published 17th June 2010

A few weeks ago I registered with a recruitment agency for work over the summer. This year is my last ever summer as a student and my last opportunity to enjoy the long months of freedom before semester one kicks in with an extra 3rd year force. I could have done absolutely nothing, “but for the last time!” (in a Chandler style cry), I could have spent the sunny days sat in the garden reading and writing, which would have been fabulous if I suddenly realized I live in Spain, and not on the cold East Yorkshire coast. But instead I’m being sensible. After a long winter I’m prepared to give up days at the beach, in coffee shops, in the park, wherever, to be sat behind a desk with a computer screen and stationary cupboard for company.

There are two reasons for this, well one main one, being financial. I can save the money I’ll be earning to live off during my third year, lessening the need for part time work come September, allowing me to spend all the more hours in the library, or I can save it for further in the future still and having some sort of financial safety net after graduation, be it that I find myself applying for voluntary internships rather than paid work. Either way, I feel I’m being sensible, if a little boring. But boring is just like saving up the fun for later, isn’t it?

What I am finding from the temporary work I’ve been assigned is that any kind of job can help open your eyes to the kind of work you want to be in come the start of your career. Those readers who have followed my blog for some time will know I’ve been far from sure of my career from the start, and have had to experiment with many things to find out what I want to do. I’ve figured that out now, but now I’m also realizing that the career you want and the type of job you want are very different things.

Take this week for example: I’ve worked each day 8.30am to 5pm, gotten home around 5.20pm, cooked dinner, done a bit of housework, a couple of hours reading and the odd DVD before going to bed. Rinse and repeat for day two, three, four, etc. The result? I feel extremely satisfied knowing I’m getting up each morning to go home around £50 richer every day, and I think my overdraft will thank me enormously for that, but come bed time I can’t help feeling a bit depressed. Take the change of DVD/TV programme/book you’re reading each night aside and it’s pretty much impossible to tell Monday from Wednesday, or any other day.

I don’t like to sit still much, and as much as I’m enjoying the job I’m doing at the moment (it’s fairly quiet so have been allowed to entertain myself in the form of working on personal projects throughout the day) I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d probably enjoy the type of job that you don’t leave at your desk the moment the clock reaches 5pm. It may be my being used to academic work, and doing most of my work in the evening, or it could just be my restless post-exams mind that feels guilty for not doing any work each evening, but overall I think taking a job home with you, having something to think about for the next day, or a couple of extra tasks to complete at home would improve my motivation to succeed. Or maybe I should just get a hobby.

Overall, a job doesn’t need to be in the industry you’re aiming for to help you get there, not in a personal sense anyway. The thing to remember is that experience isn’t all about building up your CV for the benefit of future employers, you also need to try out different things: industries, work loads, work schedules, to find what works for you.

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