So for the past couple of days, this topic kept coming to my mind and it left me seated in my room wondering what I actually understood and implied when I evoked safety.
Comment below what your definition of safety is!
This year, I have been in the massive job hunting phase. Not only am I looking for a job, but also, a place to debut a professional career. So my quotidian is basically, school and job applications. Of course I eat and sleep but those two, particularly have become my hobby and daily activities.
Anyway here’s the context.
When I started applying for jobs during summer, I did like everybody else; companies background checks and roles search. To be honest, as a graduate even though you are exposed to several experiences be it academic, extracurricular or professional, you can only have a pre-conceived idea of where you want to be and what you want to do for a living. However, these ideas and plans are sometimes influenced by things that surround us, people who inspire us and who we aspire to be or even experiences that have exposed us to particular areas or situations. In my case, despite some of these factors, I equally considered competitiveness. And best believe me, this has had a huge impact on my choices.
I study and have resided in the United Kingdom for the past three years now (moving on four soon) as an international student. When I came here, I saw, I witnessed and I experienced as paraphrased from a typical Cameroonian quote. I developed interest in certain areas of finance, markets, consulting and entrepreneurship which is still the case today. However, when time came actually start applying, I questioned myself repeatedly about the market. I realised I had to compete with a thousand of applicants from all around the globe and this scared me quite significantly I would say. I got frustrated from the fact that spaces were always limited (and would always be) and that opportunities were not perpetual.
So I stepped back a little and started looking for the less competitive areas. Those I was really certain the expectations would be lower, those I definitely knew not many people would apply to and by the end of my second year at University, I had made a selection of these companies and the roles offered. Little did I know that my analysis was short-term. I had failed to look at it from a wider perspective and consider the different angles.
To me, I was probably making a safe choice.
Fast forward to last month. I do not really know how this hit me but I began to thing again at how safe I would go in life. Is that how my options would be? Is that what I really wanted to settle for? Safety! When this thought came to my mind, I knew it was a sign. A sign that the choices I had began to make or the mindset I was having was probably not the best. Had I come this far in life to finally settle for ‘the safe option’. Had I studied – after getting admission into a Russell Group University (UK’s classification of the American Ivy League) to end up with no challenges, to end up not taking risk just because I preferred safety? It hit me faster and faster as I put more thought into the question.
I then analysed my choices in terms of job selection regardless of competition and how much potential I was about to give up. This opened my eyes even to sectors I had thought and classified before as ‘male field’ and it made me realise something really important.
Life is about these challenges. Now, I fully understand the importance of putting myself out there and stepping out of the safety and comfort zones. Stepping out of zones my mind would not be challenged, where I would not feel energised and stimulated (in every sense of it). I do believe challenges lead to growth and that the competition we are exposed to should only be a booster or motivating factor to even push harder. When you actually undergo this competition, then you know how worthy and deserving you are to be where you are and have what you have.
Imagine being chosen from a thousands of applicants, with different backgrounds, different stories, different experiences. Isn’t that awesome. Does it not feel rewarding. Believe me, its such a good feeling and sensation. Since I had this ‘meditation’ with myself, I decided to think deeper than what the surface presents and actually pursue a career I am really interested in even if it’s risky (by risk I mean – limited offers, positions, gender dominated) and take the challenges.
Since I eliminated safety from my dictionary (still drive safely haha), I have gained so much and have had so many opportunities. It seems like God was just waiting on me to come to this realisation and make use of my potential and competencies. I have attended way more interviews, assessment centres than ever before and even right from the start, my applications (forms, CV and cover letter submissions) are being retained. Perhaps, I am even more motivated and that comes across in my cover letters, CV or during interviews. I have equally had few rejections but at later stages of application processes. Stages I never expected to get to before. I learn a lot from these experiences and opportunities and these have given room to so much improvement.
At first, I thought fields such investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, securities, asset management were for a specific type of persons, companies such as GoldmanSachs, Blackrock, Citi, Blackstone, Vanguard (the list continues) only recruited candidates with the MIT, Harvard, Oxford or Cambridge etiquette. What was I thinking … As long as you possess the skills set required for these positions, as long as you have a strong academic background that reflects your intellectual capabilities and as long as you have accumulated experiences that mould you into a resourceful individual, go for it. The rest will fall into place.
You are worth so much more than what you think. You are capable of doing so much better than what you think. Remember that even with investments, only the projects or portfolios with high risk have greater expectations of returns. Don’t remain too comfortable with your safe option. It’s good to keep your options open and have many plans but at the same time, it’s very important that you put yourself out there, take challenges and get involved even if society makes you feel like that particular sector is not inclusive of your gender, background or path.
No more safety!