The date 22nd February, 2018 marked the completion of 8 years for me as a working professional. It was on that day 8 years ago that I, along with my college friends went to report for my first day at my first ever job in Bangalore. When I reflect on this long journey, I feel a sense of gratitude for all the experiences that have come my way in my work life. I truly cherish all those experiences. According to a recent Forbes article, women hold only 26% of all technical jobs worldwide. This fact makes me all the more proud to be able to be in the 26%.
I was lucky enough to be recruited in the beginning of my final year of education (Bachelor's degree in Computer Science Engineering) as part of the campus recruitment initiative by the organization which was my first employer. This made my final year all the more fun. I have never known the anxiety of what it is to look for a job after finishing studies.
During my job switches later on I had the advantage of having a strong place in my present job and leaving only after having offer(s) in hand and mostly being in a position to choose. Also, since I was always working in a position which offered reasonably good visibility via constant interaction with the client side during development phases I felt relatively secure (touch wood). All of which have made me feel relatively secure in my professional life thus far, and I am so glad about this especially considering an industry like mine.
I still can remember how eager I was to learn all I could when I was new to my job. I didn't mind working long hours and the occasional working on weekends also. The learnings of the first few years have paved the way for me to sustain myself in my profession. Aside from the actual work that I learnt from my seniors, I also value some of the life lessons they taught me. One such advice was something like this: “Work concurrently on many tasks because if you don’t, either you can’t survive or you will be here all day”. And I think this is one of the best advice because of the nature and quantum of work. Some of them were seasoned professionals and they knew their stuff.
During one of the discussions with my best friends from college, when I had just started working, we were talking about how we can’t ever be close friends with our colleagues and that we should be a little wary of getting too close with anyone at office. At that time, it held true since there is always bound to be some conflict when working together; two people in the same project meant both are looking for the same promotion, raise, looking to work on the same high priority/ competitive/ interesting task, etc. and hence both will do only what serves their interest best.
Though I have had such scenarios with different people over the years, I have been so, so lucky to have some amazing people work with me as colleagues, who later became some of my closest friends. I am still in touch with most of them and I know that they are friends for life. I often talk to my old colleagues when in doubt about some important career subject.
I am someone who believes in leaving a job on a good note and I also believe that it is in your interest to leave the door open when leaving a job. Keeping in touch with my colleagues turned friends at my old job also helps in ensuring that I know to an extent about how things are going on such as new positions opening up, new technologies or tools they are moving on to and so on.
I am also happy with the fact that my job has not been the one dominating thing in my life to the exclusion of all else as it sometimes gets if I am not careful enough. My career has been relatively well balanced with my personal life. I have been able to be true to most of my hobbies, could take proper trips, have been able to attend almost all important events such as my family and friends' engagements and weddings, have been able to spend good time with my immediate family. If there is nothing pressing at work, I also sometimes take an impromptu leave as part of mental health day off (wink), in a light and fun way, just to give myself a mini break of sorts from it all if I feel that I need it.
When deadlines are to be met at work and pressures mount and when something comes up in one’s personal life at the same time, it is tough to keep marching on. It is sometimes difficult to be sure if some compromise you made in some sphere is worth the trade-off. Through those many challenges, both personal and professional and in a job as demanding as mine, I have been able to hold my own, hold on and stay competent for which as I mentioned before, I am truly grateful. My job gives me purpose, a sense of identity, a good pay and above all fulfillment; and I value these things.
Here is to all professionals and to many more work anniversaries (in the same field or otherwise) to come! A special salute to all women who march against all odds and are proud of it! May you pursue all your dreams, both personal and professional!