Stuck in a job that you do not love

by Yin on January 31, 2008

in Career

I would like to share the story of one of my teacher in highschool. She became a teacher in my high school fresh out of teacher’s training college. As she was a junior teacher, she was assigned to teach Physics. And our class (form 4) was assigned to her.

Now, that should not be an issue, except she passionately and absolutely loathed the subject. She made no effort to hide the fact. I remembered the first day, she stepped into our class, she openly told us that she really dislike the subject:
“When I went for an interview in the teacher’s training college, I was offered a full scholarship if I were to agree to teach Physics as my main topic. I declined the offer upfront because I have always hated Physics. Even though the interviewer tried to persuade me, because they are really short of Physics teachers, I still said no. If I were to declined the scholarship and took up Chemistry instead, why would I want to teach Physics now?”

She put up a strong objection but because she was a junior teacher, the school authorities had decided against her favor. They promised her that once they are able to replacement teachers, they will assign her to teach the topic she wants.
For about 2 years, she was quite bitter and resentful. She told us she was not the best person to teach Physics and actually advised us to take tuition outside. When we were not sure and asked her questions, she would say she did not know and that we should check with our tuition teachers. Even though most of my friends took tuition from outside, Physics was a topic that everyone struggled with. For me, it was a struggle because I never took proper tuition till I reached Form 6.

However, by the second year she had gotten a bit fond of us, and knew the struggle we had with the topic. Slowly, for her student’s sake, she made an effort to like the topic and learn more about it. She started taking the time to prepare before coming in to class and try her best to solve the Physics problems or figure out why the lab experiments does not yield the expected results.

I believed it was her compassion for her students that made her change and try her best to learn and love the topic that she had hated as a student. Not long after I left the high school, I heard she was finally assigned to teach Chemistry. But teaching Physics actually made her like the topic much more than during her school days. She realised it was not as bad as she thought it to be.

Many people are like my Physics teacher- stuck in jobs that they absolutely do not like. It can be difficult spending the most productive time of our day in the job we have no passion for. We can perhaps:

  • learn to look beyond the job scope, like how our job contribute to helping others.
  • still do our best, built rapport with others, and when the opportunity arises, talk to our boss for a change.
  • if it is in a field we do not like, then work towards exit, but with a good backup. Once we identify our field of interest, we can learn to acquire knowledge and skills to eventually allow us to move to the field we like.

My interests

  • When I was 6 years old, my first ambition was to be a vet, because I really love animals. But that dream was dashed when I did not score good enough in my Form 6 Biology to qualify me for an entry into the vet faculty of the local university.
  • Another ambition I had was to be an entrepreneur
  • Then during the holidays prior to my entry into university, I worked in a chemical lab and love the job (probably because of fun colleagues) – so I thought being a chemist must be good. And I targeted and gained entry into a Chemistry based course.
  • I spent literally all my uni holidays working to earn extra pocket money- as a secretary, clerk, and other office jobs. Working all these jobs made me realised that by the second year, I want to spend the rest of my life facing people, not chemicals. And I was excelling at Management papers instead of Chemistry papers. But I made myself complete my degree even though I no longer like the topics.
  • After I graduated, I targeted the service industry. I had to beg the interviewers to give me chance when they were initially sceptical about a Chemistry. I still maintain the job with the same company till today, even though my interviewers are no longer with the company.

My job has its ups and downs. But it puts me in the position where I can help others. I learn to look for better ways to do things, built friendships with people and try to learn to be happy with the hours I spent working. Also, my natural interest in entrepreneurship influence the way I work- I do not work like a paid worker but like an entrepreneur- constantly seeking solutions and try to make the best of limited resources. In the end, it is totally up to our mindset, because if we view things in a negative light, we will never be contended.

However, if there is any area that we feel passionate about but it is a totally new field, we may want to accummulate sufficient knowledge and exposure till we are sure it’s what we want. Still, if it is something that makes you want to jump up to bed in the morning and go to work for, it’s definitely worth exploring.

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{ 2 comments }

raymond November 26, 2009 at 9:48 pm

hey there, nice to meet you.

i would like to know , with ur current status as a graduate of chemistry, how do you convince the interviewers that u are the right person to be in service industry besides ur relevant previous part time job experiences?

from my personal knowledge, a chemistry graduates or any science degree graduates are being more preferred by most employers not only to their respective majoring science areas but to other fields like management, bussiness, marketing, arts and humanities, social sciences etc as well ,which could see the application of their scientific expertise since that the analytical and creative thinking skill are the 2 emphasized and vital elements in studying science courses, isn’t it?

regards,
Raymond Low

Yin Teing November 29, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Raymond, you’ve raised a good, thought provoking question. For me, I believe that it is the sincerity, knowledge and passion that convinced the interviewer to hire me for the job. The first interview was a phone interviewe- and the interviewer was a very intelligent and well informed manager- if you lie or give her ‘theorical’ answers, she would know. The kind of questions that she asked is only those who have experience and genuine believe in service could answer. She was impressed with my sincerity and I got the job almost immediately. That’s why you need to believe in yourself and what area you can contribute- and experience and observing others makes the best learning experience. It is something that schools can never teach.

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