Idealism to Reality

Yesterday, my eldest nephew was going on about what to do with his life. He’s in third or fourth year college taking up Business. He said he wanted to go to politics. He also wanted to earn a lot of money so he’s thinking of putting up his own company. He’s thinking if he needs an MBA, or work in the US or Asia.

I remember those days in college – I studied in a prestigious university in my country, had a double degree and thought that just about any company would hire me once I graduate. I was also socially active – went on a hunger strike, social awareness campaigns etc. thinking it’s for the good of the people. I thought I could change how things work in my country. I thought I could conquer the world.

I graduated. I traveled and went on a holiday for two months. I applied for different companies, and it took me approximately two months before I finally got accepted to a Fortune 500. I had to go for several interviews in different companies before a company hired me as a good fit for the position. You think that getting into a Fortune 500 is all that shizz. No it’s not. I felt like I wasn’t growing in my corporate job. I still haven’t shaken off my idealism and expected more from my job. So I did what most young people do nowadays – I moved to another job – a job with the government. This is when reality was more real and potent. Being in the government is messy and frustrating. It comes with many bureaucracies. It is frustrating because I was there and I wanted to help people but I can’t because there are too many parties involved.

So I quit and went to business school.

Now, it’s different. I experienced working with different people. In my government job, I had a mentor. Now, the mentor I have is experience and failure to meet my expectations.

I guess, this is what real world does to you. It pops your bubble. I would say that I’m living comfortably, but I’m not living as comfortably as when I was back in my country. I realized now that working for a Fortune 500 is sought after not because it can mentor you, but because it can offer stability. I realized that working for the government is not enough if you want remarkable change. It takes time and effort. I also learned from one of my professors in grad school that unemployment is high because the skills the companies seek do not fit those of the job seekers. It’s also one of the reasons why it took me a while to get a job – my profile didn’t meet the requirement of the company.

Universities and colleges tell you all these things that they are great educators, and that when you go out there you have a upper hand against other people who studied this and that. They encourage you because they have the names and the brands students seek. But how far can a name bring you? How far will you survive in this competition?

You’ll probably remember one or two things from all those subjects you studied in college. But what do you really take away from your education? It’s not entirely what you learned from your professors (unless you’re going to academia). Education can make you sound smart but if it didn’t teach you how to think consistently, how to read, and how to maximize your resources, you just wasted thousands of dollars for that degree. Yes, you can take away a paper stating your achievement, but what’s the greater lesson here? Universities and college SHOULD be able to teach you how to think, and work hard.

Nothing in this world can be achieved with just a snap of your finger. People are where they are now because they worked for it (either by hook or by crook). One would think that the world operates fairly, but it doesn’t. Sometimes people are “winners” because they’re cheaters (and they’re not happy). There are a few who worked hard for where they are now, fair and square, and they’re proud of what they have achieved – and it doesn’t take much to make them happy.

College students and fresh graduates may think it’s their world to conquer, but no it isn’t. It’s everybody’s world, and you have to work to even get a piece of it.

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