As I explained in my last post, after two years of working at Bloomberg in London in Account Management and Sales, I realised the role was just not a good match for me. I felt I had to be pushy in terms of getting a meeting with my clients and then continue building that relationship through emails, what felt like forced phone calls, and more face-to-face meetings to get the sale. It just wasn’t me. It felt like I was going against my personality. I wanted to help people. I wanted to listen to them and find out how I could help. I just didn’t feel like I could do that there in a sales position.
In the previous post, I described how I reached the point of considering moving to a new city. Making a fresh start. That has never felt scary for me, as I’ve done it so many times. I’d even say it feels more normal than sticking around in one place, as you know as a TCK. Although I was able to see myself getting a job in New York City, San Francisco, or Sydney, I wondered if my decision to move would be for the right reasons. What would it bring me? Excitement. The unknown. A new city to discover. A challenge as I would be starting a new job. Yes, it would definitely bring me all of those things. But was that really what I was looking for? Was I not just running away from the problem at hand?
Little by little, the more I thought about it, the more I realised I was not in the search of a new city or of new people. Instead I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do as a career. And moving to a new city would have been escaping that issue and not taking the time and effort to resolve it. Did I want to continue working in the corporate world? Did I want to work in a small company? Did I want to go into a completely new field? I had no idea in what sector or in what role I wanted to work. And I was no longer willing to settle for a job that I didn’t like and that was not the right fit for me. So in the next 12 months, while I was still working hard at Bloomberg, still travelling 9 business days a month to Paris to see clients, I started networking. More specifically, I emailed my contacts on LinkedIn who I hadn’t spoken to in years. I found out what they were doing, what their job entailed and more importantly what they enjoyed and despised about their jobs. I did the same thing on Facebook, messaging friends I used to know in Johannesburg, Vienna, Hamburg… Finding out their path up until then. Asking them what they loved about their job and why.
I was quite surprised to find out that the vast majority of the people I spoke to did not like their job at all. They were mostly in their mid-twenties and still figuring out what they wanted to do themselves. Many were staying in a job for the money. Some were too afraid to make a move when they had already worked their way up the career ladder in their current company. Quite a few told me they didn’t like their jobs, but hadn’t gone further to figure why or what to do about it. They were content with the status quo. It meant not having to challenge their situation and allowed them to feel safe and secure. I understood this. I just was too restless to be able sit quietly for the next couple of years in a job that I was starting to strongly dislike. I wonder if that has something to do with us being TCKs… Forever restless.
Speaking to people about their careers and finding out what made them love it and hate it helped me figure out what I liked and didn’t like. Some of the frustrations they brought up I could completely relate to whereas others were factors that would have bothered me less in a job. I started reading a fantastic book on how to figure out the kinds of jobs that suit your personality and your core strengths. Unfortunately, it’s written in French (as a Third Culture Kid you probably could have seen that coming). I’m sure there are others though in English that have the same purpose! I would highly recommend the book : “Pour quel metier etes-vous fait?” by Gerard Roudaud. You can find it on amazon by clicking on the following link http://www.amazon.fr/Pour-quel-métier-êtes-vous-fait/dp/2759014916.
After completing a questionnaire, it gives you recommendations of the style or kind of job that would be right for you. Basically, it allowed me to narrow in on what I wanted in a job and determine what my core strengths were. Through the questionnaire, I learned that I would fit in well in a job whereby I was helping others, teaching or managing people. It confirmed that I was not interested in competition (ironically the job I was currently in was highly competitive) and did not like confrontation. It allowed me to gain a better perspective of my strengths and weaknesses in the workplace. It was incredibly useful in terms of the decisions I made very soon afterwards. As Dr. Ruth Useem found in her research, more about this in my previous posts, TCKs find it harder than others to figure out what job or vocation they want to be in. If this is your case, I would highly recommend this sort of book. It will make things clearer. Allow you see what we sometimes is so difficult to uncover on our own.
Whilst reading the book, I continued meeting these people I had contacted over LinkedIn and Facebook. I would meet them for coffee and drinks and started realising the kinds of jobs I definitely did not want. On one of these coffee dates, I found out that a friend of a friend had taken up Life Coaching. When I first heard about it,I thought geez, that’s such an emotional and ridiculous profession. I mean come on, they can’t seriously think they will be able to make money out of that. Eight months later, I had signed up to qualify as a Personal Performance Coach and an NLP ( Neuro-linguistic Programming, an approach to personal development and psychotherapy) specialist at the Coaching Academy in London http://www.the-coaching-academy.com. In my next post, I will tell you why I chose to do this qualification while I was still working at Bloomberg, and more importantly what it led me to figure out.