I Was Born For This Work
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This post is about me, me, me… Why write? Why post? I believe that my job search experience can be useful for those who are in the same boat as me – in transition. This subject is very relevant because a lot of people had lost their jobs because of the COVID pandemic. I would love to hear your thoughts and if you find at least one useful sentence – I am happy.
Analysis, Data Analytics. I enjoy any kind of analysis. My mind is very analytical and always searches for hidden meanings and connections. I question every step I take. Why? To know. To understand. I analyze everything: my thoughts, feelings, actions, decisions. I break down the things into pieces and analyze the crap out of it. I have inborn strong analytical skills. My brain is wired in that way.
Research and analysis is my meditation. I get joy from such work. My recent position at Uber as an Engineer/Project manager required me to work with lots of raw data. Dry numbers and spreadsheets – boring stuff. I loved it. Whenever I sat down to extract, analyze and try to make sense out of datasets – the time flew. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t stop. I would wait to go to the bathroom, so I can dig deeper. I would hold for so long, that I would almost pee in my pants. That’s how consuming this type of work was to me. I would be afraid to lose that state of mind – the “flow state”. I would often skip on meals and drinks. Not because I didn’t want to eat, but because I didn’t want to interrupt that free fly of my mind. I was comfortable in my thoughts and ideas. I would have to force myself to close the laptop, so I can train. I knew I was exhausting myself mentally and I needed to leave the energy for physical training.
People I used to work with often said that I had a very analytical mind. My co-workers praised me for the research I’ve done on various projects. I was not afraid to approach people and ask questions. I asked a lot, a lot of questions. This might be one of the major reasons why I was able to get into the self-driving vehicle industry and learn. My co-workers would often say how disciplined I was. After the fact, I recently learned that three years ago, when I just started working at Uber as an autonomous vehicle reliability technician management saw the qualities in me that I was not aware of. Now my friend, one of the managers said that they saw how disciplined I was. I had the ability to approach people with questions or suggestions. He said that I was perceived as a very reliable person. They knew that if they were to ask me to do something, I will have it done. There was a “management aura” around me. They saw that I had not only the discipline and the skill of managing my own work and execute on the plan, but also influence others.
Discipline at everything:
life and work
I always say: Discipline is Freedom. I really mean it.
Over the course of several years, I managed full-time work with triathlon training and racing. Just for the reference, the training piece typically takes two workouts a day and approximately 15-20 hours a week. I also managed to run several “side hustles” and tried myself as an entrepreneur. I read a lot, I studied, I took courses and I travelled. Oh boy, did I travel?
Because I was interested in so many things, I had to have a system that would help me manage them all. I developed the structure that made it all possible. It all started with “To-Do Lists”. I would have multiple: for work, training, packing for the trips, my dog, my car, reading or studying… Then I evolved to Gant Charts, Calendars and task management tools. I was always on a hunt for tools that would help me organize my life. I was always striving to be as efficient as possible. Why? So, I can fit in more. There are so many cool things I want to try, but I have so much time… I became pretty damn good at managing the most important project – the project of My Life. I read a lot of books in search of structure. Among them are such bestsellers as:
- “The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals”, by Chris McChesney
- “The ONE Thing”, by Gary W
- “Getting Things Done”, by David Allen and more…
Every time I would learn about a new managing tool or technique – I would get excited. I am still searching… The point here is that I became very, very good at scheduling and organizing. I get a sense of joy from turning a mess into a nicely organized and structured thing. Everything in my house has its own place. Everything is organized by colour, purpose, size etc… Yes, I know, I am weird in that way, but I need it. It’s not my preference – it’s my physiological and mental need to have everything in order. I feel uncomfortable when it’s not.
Triathlon training involves three sports: swimming, cycling and running. Three separate and different projects to manage in a way that when combined, would result in high athletic performance. This sport had though me a lot about planning, scheduling and logistics. I had learned how to self-motivate and push beyond the limits. The discipline that so many people admire in me, I got from the sport.
I have always had a lot of interest in business. I didn’t care what kind of business. If I saw the opportunity, imaginary or real, I would act on it. I’ve attempted several businesses, which are absolutely unrelated to my education or work experience. Dog grooming salon; Pool Cleaning and Maintenance company; High-performance athletic recovery center… and others. There is a lot to tell about those experiences, but the reason I bring it up is the skill I gained. Every business was a project with a lot of moving pieces. Every time I went into the new venture – I mastered this critical skill – project management. I thought I was working on my business, while in fact I was working on myself. Combined with full-time job and training I became pretty damn good at project management.
I’ve been searching
For the past three-four months I’ve been searching. I’ve been asking: What kind of work do you want to be doing? I did a lot of thinking and analysis of the past events. I’ve spoken to a lot of people, trying to get some clarity and insights into my strengths and weaknesses. I thought I figured it out – analytics. While this remains true, it’s so brought and wide opened. You can be financial analyst, business analyst, investment banking analyst. You can work as such in healthcare, aerospace, real estate, autonomous vehicles… you name it. There are so many different industries and businesses and each one offers data analyst positions. I had a direction, but still it was not clear where to go.
The more people I talked to, the clearer it got. I was able to extract the common theme – analytical, disciplined, well organized, self-motivated… How do use these personal traits in a way that bring me money and pleasure from work? Is there is a job that would require such skillset? If not, can I create such a job for myself? No need… there is one.
I have recently applied for an engineering position at very well-known autonomous vehicle company. I passed the phone screening; however, the manager had more questions. The questions seemed unrelated to position I’ve applied because he was asking a lot about my experience managing my businesses and different projects at work. He asked a lot about my experience with analysing data, drawing conclusions and presenting my findings to the broader audiences. His questions made me wonder if he was looking to put me in another position. Indeed, he was. Even knowing I’ve applied for an engineering role; the company suggested a better fit for me – Technical Project Manager.
I didn’t know much about the TPM role, so I went to people who did. I talked to my former co-workers and friends. Some of them had actually worked as TPMs and knew what it’s like from the inside. I asked questions and listened… The more they told me about their work duties the more I realized – this is it. I’ve been already doing all these things, but in my personal life, training and business. I realized that all I’ve been doing is managing different projects. Everyone Whenever I said that I was interviewing for a Project Manager position, they all said that I would be a perfect fit for that. “You were born to be a TPM”, one of them said. This is when it hit me. What is it’s my calling? What if I can get really damn good? What if this is my “superpower” – to bring the structure into the chaos? I got this euphoric feeling that I’ve found something very valuable in me.
Is this it?
I can help people and businesses to organize themselves. I can bring the order and structure. I can move the projects forward by motivating and keeping people accountable. I enjoy talking and learning new things – cross-team networking. I enjoy research – necessary to understand technical detail of the project. There is an analysis piece to this. I love to analyse data – project metrics and status updates. I love presenting the finding of my analysis, finding new ways of doing things, putting together presentations and delivering my findings. I am very good at planning and scheduling. I have a lot of technical experience and a degree in Computer Science. I have in depth understanding of the different business processes – the MBA degree. I have the energy and ability to motivate others. Holly smokes, this is it! It seems that my entire life was preparing me for this.
I felt euphoric. I have discovered what my talents are and what I am naturally good at. I also know where my skills are in demand and what’s the name of such a job. I know where I can get very good at. A have a feeling that I can get pretty good at this. I am confident! A huge sense of relief – I have found what I was searching for. I still don’t have a job, but I am calm and happy because I know exactly what I want to be doing next. I will try wearing a heat of a TPM – Technical Project Manager. And it’s a fully remote position…