Today I was a “Volunteer from the business community”. I spoke with students (14 years old) from 5 schools/academies in the city I work for.
I was excited when I signed up a week ago but this morning I felt sick to my stomach. What was I thinking?! I couldn’t talk to teenagers about their future careers! I barely know what I want to be when I grow up! You see I’m 29 years old, I’ve got a Marketing B.Sc degree and I’ve transitioned in careers several times over the last 10 years. I’m currently in the decision process of going back to school for a professional qualification to really give myself some direction. Basically, I’m almost 15 years older than these kids that I’m supposed to talk to today and I have no idea what I’m going to say.
Some kid is going to say, “What do you do?”
What am I going to respond with?
My LinkedIn profile says “Director”. I created my own company this year. I don’t like the idea of staying in the same company and climbing the corporate ladder, I don’t want to sit at the same desk Monday – Friday week after week and year after year. That would be torture for me. So instead I’m using my plethora of administrative, IT, and analysis skills to help departments run more efficiently. What do you call that? Consultant!
“Hi kid, I’m a consultant.”
That pesky kid will say, “What kind of consultant?”
What kind of consultant am I?!
“I’m. a… umm.. Business consultant!.”
The kid will look at me as if to say, WTF?
“I consult within departments to help people find more efficient ways of doing their jobs, ensuring they have processes and blah blah blah, oh my God I’m boring myself.”
Damn, these kids are going to see right through me. Throw a few business words in like “high turnover” or “KPI’s” and I sound like a pro, but these kids were not going to be impressed with my corporate jargin! They are going to know I’m full of crap.
Fear was starting to engulf me. Thank goodness I laid my outfit out last night because right about now I didn’t even feel capable of piecing together a business suit.
I tried to listen to music on my way to my lingering doom to chase away the thoughts that continued to stream in like flood waters on the Titanic. I suck at life. I can’t talk to these kids about dreams and direction in life if I didn’t know what I wanted myself!
I walked into a large room overlooking the riverside. What a beautiful place for my demise to take place in I thought.
As the day commenced the founder of the organization did a few sessions. After lunch it was over to us. The volunteers. Me. Gulp.
The moment I had dreaded all day was finally here. It was just the students and I. I had nothing rehearsed I mentally threw my hands up and said, “Jesus take the wheel!” and then I laughed cuz all I could think of was Kevin Hart’s stand up comedy.
“My name is Nikki, I work for Smith Ltd. and I’m a business consultant.”
Blank faces stared back at me. One little punk was already nodding off after lunch. What a captivating audience.
“I don’t want to talk about my job because the truth is it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I was just like some of you in this room 15 years ago. I got into trouble in every single math and English class I ever took in school.
My Pre-Algebra teacher in 9th grade eventually put me to sit at a desk facing the window away from the class so I couldn’t make friends with the people around me and disturb them from learning. I wasn’t rude to my teachers or mean to other students I was just bored. What they didn’t realize was that the math was too easy for me and I used to finish my homework by the time Mr. Clark finished his lesson. Throughout the morning session I’ve seen that many of you that are getting into trouble in class are incredibly bright and I imagine that this is part of the reason you act up.
If I could speak to my 14 years old self I would tell her to transfer to honors classes and challenge herself instead of staying in the regulars class and getting into trouble. I would tell her to spend her class time completing homework from other classes instead of being a distraction to her classmates. I’d suggest that she do something that interests her after school like learn a second language, play a sport, find a hobby. These skills are important and enriching as an adult. These are the things that create the personable aspect you will need in an interview.
The men and women that sit around you here in business suits, ties, and heels are not better than you; they made a decision to stop living for the reputation they would get with their friends and to start living for the future they wanted for themselves.
You probably won’t know the person sitting next to you in 5 years. Your buddy in science class that helps you stick chewing gum over every number in the periodic table will not be around to help you answer tough interview questions from a panel of executives. It’s time to look ahead toward your future and decide if the daily decisions that you make in school and at home right now are going to benefit you in the long run.
Being cool in school is not impressive on a resume/cv, having the smart mouth with your teachers (the person in authority) is not something your boss will find funny, and specifically to the girls: the boys you impress now with your perfect hair and make up will not help you get into a good university later.
What I’m trying to say is if I made it into the corporate world than you can make into whatever industry you choose. You just have to choose it and focus on it instead of what your friends think of you because their opinion doesn’t matter to your future success.”
“So what do you do?”
“I give motivational speeches to little shits like you.” I said in my head.
“Good question!” I said out loud with a big fake smile… Que the boring spiel from earlier…
– The Dust Moment –
As I neared the end of my speech I realized that I was doing the exact thing that I just told them not to do. My situation is slightly different obviously, I didn’t have the pressure of trying to fit in as an awkward teenager had, but I was trying to live for others rather than myself even now, in my adult life. I spent my trip home reflecting on the decisions and career choices I made up to this point in my life.
I was the eldest child in my family and I was expected to be the role model in everything I did. Perfection was the goal and if I couldn’t attain it I was all too good at faking it. Everything I did sounded perfect, I was a great sales person so I could make my family and friends see whatever I wanted them to see. At the same time I was searching for what would be my dream job. What could I do that wouldn’t feel like work yet still pay me. I went as far as to start my own business only to find that I wasn’t really good at marketing myself because I didn’t exactly know what it was I wanted. When I became a Christian I was all about doing what I thought God wanted me to do, I worked for the church for a while and I still wasn’t happy.
– The Gold Exchange –
“Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.” – Ecclesiastes 9:10
“Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” – 1 Timothy 6:18-19
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
During my reflection I remembered that shortly after getting my first real job that paid very well I wanted to make money and help people with it. I know that’s not a career or a job role, but literally, that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be a philanthropist – “a person who seeks to promote the welfare of others, especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.” I actually did it for a little while, it was the best feeling I ever experienced, I didn’t mind working my butt off because I knew it would lead to getting money that I could give away.
Where had that passion gone?
I started to fall into the “Christian mindset” of disliking money because of all the evil that came along with it. “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil…” 1 Timothy 6:10 Yea sure, if you weren’t diligent and a good steward of what you received you could easily spend recklessly and squander your wealth on things that are meaningless and often detrimental to life. So I didn’t focus on money anymore, money ruled this world and I needed it to survive but I would have no more than I needed. I decided to live a humble life and work for the joy of it not for the money. I got caught up in finding the right job that would be fun and forfeited the financial side and it has become increasingly difficult to enjoy anything I do. It dawned on me as I asked myself the necessary questions that I already knew what I wanted to be, a philanthropist, all I needed to do now was put myself in a position to do that.
I’m pretty good in the business world; I started my degree in Finance as an undergrad and changed it because I almost failed Intro to Finance. I switched to something easier and later had to re-take finance at my second university. I aced it the second time around. Turns out my first professor was a terrible teacher, he was dismissed a year after I transferred. I had the choice to return to finance and challenge myself or continue on the easier path. I chose to take the easy way out. I regret that decision. Sure I had fun in university but it was at a cost that I am facing now. I’m so grateful I can see this now. I still have time to change it and I’m starting in 2015. Who knew I would be the one that learnt a lesson from today.
That verse commonly quoted from 1 Timothy is incomplete, the complete verse is, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, in their eagerness to get rich, have wandered away from the faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.” “The love of money” and “eagerness to get rich” are the key phrases here, money is not the root of evil, the love of it is and the rest of the verse makes that clear to see. One more scripture that confirms this is “Men prepare a meal for enjoyment, and wine makes life merry, and money is the answer to everything.” Ecclesiastes 10:19. Money in the right hands could be an incredible tool of blessing to those who need it. Why not my hands?
~ Miss Taken