When I was younger, my grandmother in Kenya used to give me a part-time job to do during the summer vacations. The tool I used to use is shown in the picture below.
It’s an impulse heat sealer to seal plastic bags. So my job as you can imagine was to seal the tens and hundreds of bags containing sunflower seeds, mabuyu, achari and other Swahili delicacies. So when someone used to pass me by while I was working on the dinner table, I’d jokingly count loudly, “Three hundred and fifty five, three hundred and fifty six…” to indicate that I was really bored of the repetitive routine.
Fastforward years later, and academic degrees later, my paycheck got better (I was getting nothing but my grandma’s blessings while working under her), but my job was getting worse until it reached its peak one year ago when my manager called me once and showed me these humongous folders and told me to file away piles of drawings. Some days later I resigned and you can read all about it in the blog posts dated one year ago (needless to say, I left those folders as they were on the desk).
But the idea is that jobs can really make you braindead sometimes. When we’re in uni we’re fooled into believing that industry would provide a challenging career, but the moment we get to the real world, we discover a lot of the work is ‘copy-past’/’routine’ and your knowledge tends to stagnate with time. You might think that engineers are rocket-scientists but after some time of experience, one realizes that they can do half the work they’re doing while they’re on auto-pilot, while their active part of the brain is planning out your vacation.
So now I’m in academics, and though I would really love to make more money than I am right now, I realize that I just love the exponential learning curve in academics. Even if it’s not your class lessons that you’re learning, you’re always inspired to pick up a new book to read, or learn a new language (I joined German classes at MI this semester just for fun). Compare this with my quite unique ‘industry experience’. In the two years I spent in my previous job- besides lessons on ‘how to operate printers’ – my knowledge was not just stagnating but slowly evaporating.
So going back to the first point I mentioned; in retrospect, I think of the mabuyu-bag sealing job my grandmother used to give me, and I realize that I was really learning persistence there because you can’t imagine how boring the task used to be.My friends are in the interview stage of job hunting nowadays, and all I find myself thinking is that I wish I can just work for myself because I need more freedom over how to control my time. While a part of me would love to just stay at home and write (and make money out of selling my books, monetizing this blog, etc…), but I also would like to start a business not just for profit, but to add value into the lives of people around.
Picture courtesy of Google Images