I have been in London for two months now. It means many days and hours spent. It also means a lot of adventures lived, lessons learnt, and issues faced (most of them solved, happily!)
This post explores some of the challenges I have experienced during my work placement, and a few humble pieces of advice I can now share from experience!
The pressure of completion
There are many differences between working in a school and in a company, between working for a grade and for a client. To my mind, the biggest one is what I would call ‘the pressure of completion’;
At school, if ever I have a huge issue that would take too long to solve or whatever, then it is possible – maybe not recommended, but possible – to simply “overlook” some instructions. It just means some points fewer in my final mark!
Whereas in a company, I do not work for myself but for a client. Hence, I can’t stop the project when I am satisfied of the result, but when he or she is. And of course, it’s simply inconceivable to skip a single instruction or to give the client something not complete! This new stake make the work way more delicate but also much more rewarding to my mind.
The most common issues for me on a project are technical concerns, because I specialize in code – and in code, there are always, always issues. Of course, I could always rely on the team to help me, but I prefer trying to solve those issues by myself when possible. It feels too easy to just ask for the solution, and moreover it’s pretty useless because I know that I won’t remember the solution if I just wait for someone else to do it.
I find it to be way more interesting to try and find the solution by myself. In fact, this is the reason I am here: to learn new technical things, and to get comfortable with the ones that used to be problematic for me.
Finding a solution on my own also develops a quality that seems very important to me: the autonomy. Autonomy was doubtless the quality I missed the most, I needed the most and I eventually got the most – even if I still have a long way to go in my autonomization process!
When the stubbornness meddles
Stubbornness is not a pure fault. In some ways it’s a good quality; not giving up, not having rest until it works, persisting in achieving something. However, I realized it’s something to keep in check in a working environment, where there are budget and deadline concerns.
Basically, being stubborn is OK, if you ease it with pragmatism; sometimes, I think it’s just useless to keep on trying to make something work, while there is always another way, which may eventually look far better.
I have learnt to step back and think about it as objectively and impartially as possible – that’s hard! Then, when I finally succeed to find another way, I never hesitate to do it all over again, even if it sets at naught hours of work – that’s what I did twice for this blogpost!
It may waste some time, sure, this is a tough choice to make, but it’s always worth making the logical choice get the high ground on wishes and ambition, or in other words, making the little voice of Reason override the one of Heart – and possibly of Ego.
Talking about ego, I found that there is actually another way my stubbornness can be involved in my work. For instance, when I work for clients, often I do something I like and they don’t. This is tiresome, but absolutely fateful – but I guess we’d be bored if everybody was always agreeing! In this case, I first must turn my ego off to curb my stubbornness. Then, my weapons are diplomacy and persuasion – and as a last resort, inception! I try to convince them to think in my direction. And then I figure out that they are actually just as stubborn as I am.
Choose the light – and do not balk
Some may be put off by the boring tasks. This is sure, in a company there is not only thrilling tasks, like classifying 2000 fonts for example – talking from experience! – in the working world at least!
There is no useless work, because if this is work, it means that this is useful for someone. Similarly, there is no thankless work, because the true rewards of making a task for someone else basically comes from their smile and gratefulness for relieving them of some of their burden – oh, and also a little bit from their money I guess!
So here’s my most important advice: DO NOT BALK at the small tasks (well, do not balk at anything actually!). And it’s not only about work, it’s also valid for life. This is not an accident if Sloth is one of the Deadly Sins, because they are at the same time harmful and tempting. And everyone knows that the path of temptation to the Dark Side, leads!
The change of scenery
This work placement is a multiple challenge for me. Indeed, besides being abroad and being my first professional experience, it’s also the first time I ever lived on my own. Of course, it’s far more stimulating and thrilling, but it’s also harrowing sometimes.
When I arrived alone in a city I didn’t know – the biggest city in Europe furthermore – in a foreign country with a language I do not master that well, loaded to the hilt with my bulky luggage, and I didn’t even know where I was going to sleep or what I was going to eat that first night… Well, I was rather worried!
Happily, London is a city full of youth hostels and free Wi-Fi accesses. The better is to be well prepared and organized, then it’s pretty easy to find a share room – I didn’t say cheap though!! It should take you only a few days with a pinch of will and a bit of luck.
But don’t worry, even when you’ll be well set up in your room and so on, there will be plenty of little troubles that will come and spice up your life! For example the great pain you will suffer while you’re taming the devilish English keyboard – French guy speaking here!
In that story, the best is that I still have a full month to spend here and a lot to learn. The worst is that I’ve only one month left here, and so much to learn!