Of Jobs And Seeking Knowledge

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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

6 thoughts on “Of Jobs And Seeking Knowledge

    Shireen said:
    May 3, 2011 at 11:35 am

    You make me wanna quit my job!! stop ittttt 😐 πŸ˜›

    Khadra said:
    May 3, 2011 at 11:42 am

    its true actually some jobs really brainwash or drain you out, and its a reptitive work. Over the years your brain gets use to it and you just cant accept change or some argue with change, in uni yes we are taught that we can almost do everything but we were not taught that you need approval and license and wasdah and break some egos just to say your ideas or to get your ideas through. And there are many Arab talent youth in many fields but most of the compaines still rely on western people, its like trust the stranger but never trust your people.

    AH responded:
    May 3, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I agree with you khadra. the situation is really sad. Shireen, it’s not my fault if you don’t like your job :P. If you do then this blog shouldn’t affect\ u

    Sarra Samara said:
    May 3, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    oh don’t remind me abt how horrible a job can be !! your words just it a nerve =( it’s really sad how depressing the real work experience is in contrast to learning sth new everyday in university. i think i reached a point in life where i decided to stay ‘6alebet 3elm’ forever . and when am done with one major, i’ll just choose another one and keep learning. but when can neither have a proper job, or a chance to keep on studying, you cook =D

    retireewannabe said:
    May 4, 2011 at 6:12 am

    if there is a well-paying bag-sealing job available, I am up for it πŸ˜€

    fida Abuhamda said:
    May 11, 2011 at 8:18 am


    well u knw bout my job experience, alhmdu le Allah i dont miss it, but wth all the prssure tht is around me n the feelin “hm tht mayb im suppose to and need to get a job..even though i dont w alhmdu le Allah really need it”

    in my mind, i want to keep this part of teh year, free for me! ya3ni clear and develope…

    but tab3an, i dnt want to fall into my own trap..cuz well the nafs loves to stay away frm any stress, do wat i want whn i want not worryn bout a thing…

    so i take be al asbab, as i can…last day worked on my profile and CV, printed some copies, hoped in my car and drove around…”ok where am i goin??” lookin for a place for my field…wallahi i stoped at places…but stayed in my car thinking…tryn to imagen my self in tht plce…”no no i cant” and i drive away!!!

    alhmdu le Allah im workin on my own buss. slowly..but im workin on it…w Allah yeser!

    i always wander, how did the generations b4 us were able to work in thngs thy didnt enjoy…ok ya in the long run they gained experience and places..but how were thy able to hold on???

    and why is everyone no a days, not happy wth their jobs, and becomin the wrost ppl if thy stay too long in tht job…n why is everyone thinkin of workin on their own???

    any answers??

    as for me, i dont know….im jst prayin w Allah yeser ele feh al khyr w yehdena ela ma khalaqna laho

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