Lesson Two: Listen To Your Interests
Fernando Pernica  By  – Master in Management Candidate | Marketing & Business Development in Technology & Digital – Follow
In Brazil, the saying “dar murro em ponta de faca” (loosely translated as to punch a knife-edge) is used to describe a failed enterprise in which one is mindlessly persistent. As the expression (and image below) suggest, it is a painful, pitiful, and pointless exercise. To this piece of Brazilian wisdom I equate the early stages of my job search – when I had just started at IE Business School.

As I mentioned in my previous #BestAdvice post, I came to IE with a different view of business than that I have now. This, of course, had an impact on my job search. Beyond that, however, my biggest priority was not finding the right industry or sector in which I would like to work in, but rather the company, the role, and the learning and career opportunities offered by them. I already had three years of work experience in tech, and I thought I wanted something different.

As a result, my job search at that time was messy at best. While I had the purest intention of getting a job that was going to provide me with the skills and experience I wanted, this strategy was clouding my ability to make sound career decisions. I persisted on searching and applying for jobs which aroused no interest and stirred no emotions in me. Reflecting on my lack of enthusiasm, I started to second-guess myself. Had I made the right choice by coming to business school? Was I, perhaps, wrong about what career path I should be pursuing?

Surprisingly, this is a story that I hear very often when talking with colleagues and friends. We are all still figuring out what we want to do, and in which direction we want to take our careers, so we often don’t stop to ask ourselves: where do my interests fit in? This is perhaps the most crucial question of all, but which often gets side-lined amidst the pursuit of that much needed competitive edge. (This also has serious implications for employers, as it becomes harder for them to find talent who are truly passionate about their jobs).

Change of Perspective

Two occasions come to mind when I think about my change of perspective. The first was when I was applying for a job at a tech giant. For the first time, perhaps, I was excited about completing an application form. Writing about their products and why I wanted to join them, made me think about why I felt different this time. I realised that it was my passion for technology that caused the excitement. The role was not what I was looking for, but the prospect of working with something I loved, more than made up for my expectations.

The second occasion was for a school assignment in which I worked on. It involved the creation of a business plan for a mobile service which integrated mobile payments with context-rich systems powered by big data. I hadn’t felt this excited about an assignment before! But what I started to learn was that perhaps I had been approaching my job search in the wrong manner. The reason I found the process daunting was because I had not listened to my interests and the things I am passionate about, and I had not included that in my job search.

Dream Job vs. Approval

While this may seem like an obvious idea to many, the competitiveness of the labour market is driving people to get jobs they are not passionate about, and which in the end, will make them miserable. Unfortunately, this is the situation many find themselves in, as they barter their dream job in exchange for skills, experience, or the “seal of approval” of a prestigious company or position.

Naturally, one’s career is a process of discovery, reflection, and evolution, in which a person will try and fail many times before succeeding. Without reflection, there can be no evolution. However, without discovery, there can be no reflection. The lesson I learned is that the most effortless, free, and painless way to aid this discovery, is to listen to one’s interests and passions, because in them lies what drives and motivate us.

The Great Ocean Road

To bring a cliché into the conversation, career development is a journey and not a destination, and sometimes it will more likely resemble a dirt road in the middle of the desert, than the Great Ocean Road in Australia. However, only those that are able to reflect and extract the most learning from their journey, will have the chance to make the most meaningful career decisions.

Gladly, I can finally leave that knife alone and focus my job search on the companies and products I’d be truly excited to represent. My #bestadvice for those currently looking for a job, or seeking to make a change, is: pay attention to your interests and passions. They can tell you a lot, not only about who you are, but also where you want to go.

Lesson #2 – Listen To Your Interests


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