The Boon (and Bane!) of Specializing and Why a Strong Work Mission is Needed in Job Hunting

I visited a bookstore this week after meeting up with a friend, and I was mildly shocked to find that I was no longer reading through the content of the nicely packaged books. I was actually checking where the punctuation marks were, what style was used and how the layout looked like. A few months ago, I would have stayed for hours on end. But on that last bookstore visit, I only stayed for almost 20 minutes without being reminded of my pending work, my deadlines and all those things that a book editor must keep in mind. It was a little ouch moment but I know I will eventually balance my work and my leisure reading trips.

It strangely reminds me of an not-so-famous essay by the novel master Robert Louis Stevenson about “The River”. Or was it “Crossing the River”? Forgive me for my memory gap; it’s been ages since I read that essay. Basically, Stevenson’s point or main idea is this: people inevitably trade off or sacrifice something in themselves when they choose to specialize in something.

He set the steamboat operator of a boat in the river as an example. A typical couple riding on the boat will just see a dimple in the river as something cute, but an experienced steamboat operator will see some form of wreck lying underneath that innocent looking dimple.

Stevenson’s essay was so creatively done. I think I read it ten times, then. I just lost the book, so I can no longer find another copy of that lovely essay, but I am sharing it here just the same.

Work mission is important. I always refer to my own work mission, especially when I am wallowing in a bad phase of work (every job has one, even if it is your dream job).

There are PERKS to an employee’s life. And I must always look at those perks MORE than the trade offs if I truly want to last in any company or endeavor. It’s not always honeymoon stage in one’s dream job; there will be days it can be quite taxing.

At times when I feel a little discouraged, I always go back to that time when I was being interviewed by my boss for this job. I turned down a company that paid twice what I am receiving here for a reason. I told my present boss (who was then my interviewer) that I see myself in this company because I can tangibly visualize myself taking part in this significant endeavor of helping more local engineering author titles get published.

I seriously craved for Philippine engineering authors! Many times in college, we geodetic engineering students had to deal with standards that was tailored to fit the citizens and the land mass on the other side of the world. I heard my teacher once tell us his rants about not having our own, but I rarely saw members of the academe who actually isolated themselves and came up with a thick book for us Filipinos.

I did trade off some things. I was not able to go abroad. Neither was I able to afford fancy dinners or even beach trips. I wanted to buy my mom a resthouse in Tagaytay and treat my dad to a fancy restaurant. But my wallet firmly says no, sweetie, just wish them well and be good. LOL.

I was not able to do much, but then again, I have done more than enough by taking this wonderful job that I believe suits me a lot. THE MONEY WILL FOLLOW. IT WILL HAVE TO.

In my opinion, if you cannot passionately and truthfully verbalize your own career objective (and not something you just copied from somebody else’s resume!), no job is good enough to apply in and no job will ever be suitable.

And I never regretted answering that particular interview question most truthfully.

I meant every word, and I continue to mean them as I decide to stay, as I try my best to do my job day by day, even when things sometimes did not turn out the way I expected them to turn out. Surely, this will get me through even the tough times. I am just grateful, 99% of the time.

And when one is grateful, the universe conspires in giving more things to thank about! 😀