Your job is going to be relatively mindless, repetitive, and dull.

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Mod Note: This comment was posted in rensponse to this post: HELP- Pissed in Big 4 Audit, received a ton of silver bananas, and deserved to go up on the homepage by itself

This could be an over generalization, but I think many people in our generation have a romantic vision of life in the working world, especially the corporate world. they think from day one they are going to have an impact, work on interesting and fascinating projects, and find some type of intrinsic satisfaction in the work they do. the truth is, whether you are in big 4 pubic accounting, banking, consulting, etc, your job is going to be relatively mindless, repetitive, and dull.

You specifically use buzzwords like analysis, creativity, and forward thinking. again, the truth is, in big corporations with thousands and thousands of employees, there is a small group of executives who are steering the direction of the company, making important strategic decisions, and actually having an impact on operations. everyone else is pretty much a cog contributing their little part to make sure the machine functions effectively. you show up, you do your work, you collect your pay, and you get to live comfortably as a result.

I do hear you though. I felt the same way early on, but after several years i came to the above realization. face it, you sold out. almost everyone on this site did. you could have taken an interesting job where you help people, make a difference, etc, but you didn't do that. you chose to pursue a stable career where you can make very good money. it just takes time. everyone wants the money, power, respect right off the bat, but that's not reality.

Would you be happier in industry or in a different public service line?Ii doubt it. it's all the same crap. but it's not all doom and gloom. compared to your peers, you are in a great spot. just put in your time. recognize the first 5-10 years of your career you are going to be a minion like the rest of us, and try to enjoy life outside of work.

Comments (20)

Mar 7, 2014

I don't think it is specific to our generation, I think every generation has the same idea. A small minority actually chooses a path of creativity etc through a career in whatever they are passionate about, others sell out ASAP.

The sellouts will never make it to the top though.

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Mar 7, 2014

agreed. It just hurts so bad when you find out that work is just work. it's not a total crap neither has lots of glamour - it is a part of your life that will be there most of the time, and will have its ups and downs.

I believe our parents' generation (I was born in the late 80's) had a more realistic mindset regarding work. This is also a reflection of a "anti-sadness", hedonist type of thinking that is being around lately. We were taught to pursue hapiness at all costs - a tought that ofcourse leads to countless frustrations. work included.

Mar 7, 2014

This is a great post. It basically sums up most jobs.

At a bank you can have a little bit of an impact on operations. If you have good ideas about how to help another wheel work more efficiently, people will listen to you. There is a little bit of room for creativity, within the constraints of the system. But your main job and main creator of value is keeping your cog running.

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Mar 7, 2014

Yup.

Hence: Booze.

Mar 8, 2014

agree with the OP. have seen a former class mate doing "meaningful" work in third world countries actually making a difference in the lives of people. definitely makes me pause and ask myself what if. however, assessing my current situation, i feel like this situation is the best for me at this point in my life.

Mar 8, 2014

Excellent post. It took me three summers in the corporate world to finally figure out this out. Selling out doesn't have to be a bad thing; you just have to take into account your tolerance for risk. For me, the security/stability/prestige/money/blah didn't make the tradeoff worth it so I'm taking a more "creative" route. I've got friends that balk at the notion and are perfectly happy "selling out." The only thing I know for sure is that they'll be living a whole lot better than me these next few years.

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Mar 10, 2014

What exactly did you decide to do? I'm a college student, and I really just want to be in a field that allows me to be creative rather than doing mechanical tasks. It's threads such as these that make me really second guess what I want to do.

Mar 11, 2014
Plainview:

What exactly did you decide to do? I'm a college student, and I really just want to be in a field that allows me to be creative rather than doing mechanical tasks. It's threads such as these that make me really second guess what I want to do.

Become a trader.

Best Response
Mar 8, 2014

I liked this post when it was originally posted, and I still like it, but I think it fails to recognize a crucial aspect to any work, which is that we have a choice to enjoy what we do or not. But before going into that...

I believe that the work of an auditor, a banker, a consultant really does help other people. I was an auditor and I couldn't stand it -- but I knew auditors who were good at what they did and they loved it. Not liked, loved.

I have exactly one week and one day of experience as a Private Equity analyst (growth capital) -- certainly not an expert. But I have already met with a couple of entrepreneurs whose dreams have been made a reality not just because of their hard work, but because early stage investors had the faith to provide seed money; growth investors had the insight to recognize rising value; consultants had the expertise to aid in strategy creation and operational optimization; bankers had the skills and energy to find private buyers and structure the deal; and even auditors helped with technical deal structure and provided a heightened level of confidence that bankers and investors rely on.

(Some of those words sound like buzzwords. But buzzwords are only bad when we use them to pretend we know more than we do. Strategy creation and operational optimization, infamous buzzwords, are actually important concepts.)

We all get to choose what we go into, and it is a fallacy to think that only doctors and teachers are really helping people. Plenty of doctors and teachers are "sellouts" too, by that definition. We all sell ourselves for something. For some of us it is money. For others it could be power. For others it is the opportunity to do as little work as possible for a smaller paycheck. There are infinite intellectual, physical, economical, and other reasons why we choose what we do, and we are essentially selling ourselves for what we value. Only when we choose something contrary to our own individual values in order to have something that others will care about are we the true sellouts.

My point is that if really hate what we are doing, lets do something we like more! I did it, and I couldn't be happier. But it doesn't mean that auditing is inherently worse. It just means it wasn't for me.

The real takeaway is that we are responsible for our own path, and if we are miserable and everything seems dull, it is in our power to change it.

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Mar 8, 2014
Mr. Manager:

I think it fails to recognize a crucial aspect to any work, which is that we have a choice to enjoy what we do or not.

Agree 1,000x. Attitude is at least half the battle. If you put effort into enjoying it, you're probably going to enjoy it. If you just walk around sarcastically saying shit like "living the dream", you're gonna have a bad time.

I can find enjoyment in a lot of things others find mundane - because why the fuck not? Anyways, thanks for the insight, SB for you

Mar 9, 2014
Mr. Manager:

Love it. Congrats on your new role, and thanks for your words here.

Mar 11, 2014

I agree in some sense. Even rockstar musicians have monotonous, dull aspects of their jobs. We shouldn't put labels on what is "creative and fulfilling" work, yes society tells you so because being one means you're famous, you're paid more etc etc, things which boost your self esteem. A musician isn't better than a teacher. Neither is a doctor over over a paper pusher at an audit firm. Not everyone thinks "helping others in need" and "composing the next heart-wrenching ballad" should be the end goal of every meaningful, happiness generating value system. These are are all based on perception, decide for yourself what your values are and balance that with your talent, abilities and the resources available to you. "Happiness" is only a means to how one justifies their existence. Even concert pianists get bored of playing someday, my point is there is no one single "destined" path or thing which will make your work/life fulfilling.

On another note, there is certainly a paradigm shift in terms of how the current generation relate work to concepts of happiness and meaning in their lives. Our parents and those before them (those in the early industrial days) were entrenched in the economic growth model influenced by"put food on the table first before anything else" ideology. They were very good at prioritizing. In a way, this was a simpler way to view life because they were focused and perhaps more one dimensional in what they would view as a successful and fulfilling life.

Mar 10, 2014

I realized that shit the first year I was interning at a F500 in a relatively strategic HQ environment.
The way I see it you got to go for a top 10 MBA and only then can you start really leading things. But then again like OP said the general lifestyle and sense of purpose still isn't there.

To be honest I think joining an SME or even running your own business is the only way to truly feel in control.

Mar 10, 2014

It's like Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Finding your passion, striving for greatness, and all the while benefiting society at large. We all strive for this in our jobs and people admire Jiro for his discipline and his love for his work.

But I like to think (and could be wrong about) that Jiro also has a distinct attitude towards his job (as Mr. Manager talked about). The lasting impression I get from not just Jiro, but any kind of dedicated artisan is that they live for the process, or the means, whereas most people are only concerned about the ends. I think many jobs can be meditative and a source of self discovery and learning, whether it be cleaning fish or making spreadsheets, the matter of the work itself serves more as the medium for knowledge.

After 4 years of unstructured college life, the daily grind of post-college work was at first unappealing, almost despairing. I balked at taking

But I have to say after 2 years as an analyst, I've learned a lot from committing to just the routine of work. I've learned a lot from books but work has taught me a lot about life and how the world works in a way I could only have gotten through experience.

I realized that being happy with my job is internal as much as it is external. It's not to say that the job itself doesn't matter, and part of my transition to enjoying my job was in getting to know the consulting industry and finding that it's a good fit for me, something I can see myself having a career in.

But at the same time, this kind of "love" for my job is almost completely inadequate in making me feel happy when deep in the trenches of the mundane day-to-day/repetitiveness of the work itself. Add to that the stress of living in the city, being crammed in the subway with dead-faced commuters, the staleness of the office, the doubt of the impact of my work on society etc.. All the negative things that other commentators have mentioned with work most certainly can overwhelm any positive that the job itself can bring

It wasn't until I started to change my attitude that I became happy with both my job and with my life in general. Instead of showing up with a list of demands and expecting my job to meet them 100%, I realized I needed to meet it halfway. I've learned that like keeping in shape, feeling happy and satisfied required frequent maintenance, focus, and discipline, as well as forgoing entitlement for gratitude. It wasn't something that was just waiting for me at the end of the road. Happiness took discipline, something that can't be achieved from circumstances alone.

Again, wanted to emphasize that I'm not saying that the qualities of the job itself in terms of the type of work, impact on society, autonomy, work-life balance, etc. isn't all important. Nor am I being fatalistic saying striving for something better isn't worth it.

BOTH aspects are important, but I think we value the job part too heavily. The journey will be much more fulfilling and rewarding if the kind of hard work and dedication people put into reaching the next level is also matched in cultivating a healthy and positive attitude. Working on both their internal as well as external self.

For me it was revealing that in high school when I was faced with a similar sort of day-to-day grind, I responded by being an angsty teenager. I felt depressed and nihilistic and mostly put the blame on school and my parents. It wasn't until I was much more mature that I was able to have the kind of contentment I have now.

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Mar 10, 2014

Phenomenal! +1. This is something I'm coming to grips with myself. When I first graduated college, I posted a topic three months into my job titled "When Does Life Get Better?" I've since realized that the short answer to this question is...never, at least if you're not willing to change your attitude and mindset. You really have to make a conscious effort to enjoy the nature of the work, as mundane and dull as it may seem, otherwise you'll be miserable the rest of your working life.

Mar 10, 2014

The way I see it, it all boils down to your attitude. In a way our parents' generation did indeed seem to understand this better. When they were are at work, they dug right in, focusing on the end goal of providing for their families. Were they expecting happiness? I don't think so. To me, they were expecting satisfaction and security in knowing that they were there to do what they were asked to do and be remunerated for it.

Our generation is on some kind of "happiness or die" streak. I'm not saying this is bad, but it can lead to serious dissatisfaction when the harsh reality that the workplace is not responsible for your happiness kicks in.

In the end, define what makes you happy and go for it. But be realistic about expectations.

Chill

Mar 11, 2014

Re: Cogs in the corporate world

You have to be able to see how your piece of the puzzle fits into the tangible change at the end of the rainbow. The actual tasks in banking are monotonous and unfulfilling, but when you are able to put it into context and understand what you have helped to create in each deal, acquisition, or capital raise then you begin to feel it.

Mar 14, 2014
BCbanker:

Re: Cogs in the corporate world

You have to be able to see how your piece of the puzzle fits into the tangible change at the end of the rainbow. The actual tasks in banking are monotonous and unfulfilling, but when you are able to put it into context and understand what you have helped to create in each deal, acquisition, or capital raise then you begin to feel it.

This is a beautiful comment.

Mar 12, 2014

once you get the whole picture, it becomes interesting, otherwise - in most cases its dull.

Mar 12, 2014
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