Having packed my suitcases and wistfully saying goodbye to a place I call home, I trotted hurriedly to the NAIA Airport filled with much contradictory emotions. On one hand, I am filled with hope to be in NYC again, and to fulfill one of my dreams of finding a job in the big apple. On another, I know how difficult it would be given that the economy then was still going through a recession and how disadvantaged I may seem to recruiters who know a number of applicants with impressive background, but still queuing at the long line of unemployment waiting for a chance to be handed that opportunity-no matter how golden or not it may be.
After a grueling 19 hour flight, my feet finally landed in the New York soil. Contained with excitement, I soon got down to business and started sending out my resume online and through recruitment agencies. I even created a database to track my progress, and note those companies whom I have already sent my resume to. It took me quite a while before I got a response, and I even took a waitressing job just to be able to pay rent. Finally, a call from one of the recruitment agencies offering a job at one of the Fortune 500 investment firms reached me, and after a few days later, I was hired.
Though not heavily interested in the financial industry, I thought that it was a great opportunity to be able to learn from one of the world’s best. Working as a market research analyst, I was able to participate in the development of their research studies and was given an opportunity by the head of the social media department to lead an initiative of creating a more systematic approach in conducing social media analytics within the firm’s treasury department. It was basically a one-man team effort from data mining right down to report writing as the department had no budget for it. I had to be resourceful and mine for free analytics tool which I can utilize without compromising the quality of the mined data. The project was successful to say the least, and prompted the manager to find ways in replicating the system.
Before I was given this opportunity, I was heavily dissatisfied with my work mainly because I felt I was not having any significant impact to the society at large, and that my talents were not really utilized in a way that would “bring out the best in me.” After leading the project, I was happy and contented for quite some time as it engaged my need for a more challenging and more influential work; however, I was still not feeling fulfilled. This seriously gave me a pause, and pushed me to reflect on things that really matter to me. What do I really want? What would make me happy? Jumping to a different corporation would not solve my problem, I know that. The problem is deeper than just paycheck and type of work. I needed to feel that I am doing something significant- not only for the executives, but more importantly, for the community-and I am not exactly feeling just that in my line of work within that firm.
Feeling drained and unsatisfied, I decided to hand in my resignation despite not having a ready replacement in hand. The decision might have been impulsive and may seem ridiculous to some. I honestly even doubted myself for doing this, and thought that it might not have been for my best interest after all. There were some recruiters who followed up with me regarding some corporate opportunities-which are great in themselves-but that I feel I would really not be happy in long term, and the reason for which I did not pursue any longer.
Now that everything is full of uncertainties, it seems as if the world is also full of possibilities. Presently, I am thinking of going back home to my birth country, and to utilize my skills and passions in developmental work preferably in a social enterprise setting. I have applied as well to social jobs here in the U.S. and in Africa- one of which is located in Uganda, and will be hearing from by the end of the month. I am also starting out a social enterprise partnership which would bring into focus the role of technology in solving some of the societal problems that we encounter in health care, education, and economic empowerment.
Thinking about it, my decision to free myself from an unfulfilling work without a “back up plan” may seem counterintuitive and illogical for most people, but to be honest, it actually forced me to reflect about the things that I really value and how I should pursue those values. In other words, by being outside of my comfort zone and outside my area of familiarity, I was able to have that opportunity to be able to find myself back again, and I think that in itself is priceless.