Your alarm rings, signalling another brand new day. You get up, looking forward for another new day of challenge, another new day to learn. After washing up, you put on your office outfit, giving you that professional look, one that you believe many out there envy. Breakfast follows (perhaps), and you head off to your office. You’re one of the earliest to arrive, ahead of all your superior and when they come in later, they greet you and you feel all charged up for another productive day. Plenty to do and learn and hence, you are prepared to stay back late to do all that is necessary.
If you’re currently doing a degree in finance, accounting or law, the above is probably what you’ve been waiting for all these years. You work your ass off (well… most of you) in university because it’s your dream to join one of those big glamorous firms out there in the market. Lawyers and accountants are the usual suspects for this curse. Once graduated, all of them will run like headless chicken towards those big firms. If you’re an accounting student… you want to be an auditor in one of the Big-4 right?
Well, if you do make it, it’s like a dream come true. In such firms, you get a personal computer, maybe a notebook (wow!). All your stationeries are free, and it’s also the first time you step into a ‘pantry’, where you can make your own coffee, just like those nice offices in TVB series. Next, you get an exclusive e-mail, the domain after your name is not the ordinary @gmail.com or @hotmail.com or @yahoo.com… No, it’s not, it’s email@example.com. You can’t wait to tell that to your friend.
Then comes the feeling of giving a business card with your name on it, and it’s not any other business card, it’s one with your name on it, it’s one that signifies you’re an employee with a-big-and-glamorous-firm. And… the word below your name is not a lowly “accounts executive”… the word below your name is exclusive… the word below your name is… “Associate”. And when your friend gives you the “Wow, you’re an associate with this firm?”… you get into instant orgasm.
3 or 6 months into your job, you will then be experiencing the euphoria of saying… I-am-very-busy… I-have-a-lot-work… I-worked-till-very-late-last-night… I-can't-make-it-for-the-gathering-cos-I-have-to-work-this-weekend. Yeah, it’s an euphoria because to you, it’s a privilege to be busy, it’s very cool to work late, you’re very proud to work in during weekends. When you utter such words, a sense of arrogance and pride radiates from you. You feel great because working so hard means you learnt a lot of things, those not in the professional industry somehow looks lowly to you. You feel big, you feel you’re a level smarter than them .Reality will tend to sink in within 2 years or so, though the duration seems to be getting shorter and shorter now with the younger generation.
First, you will probably ask yourself, how come a graduate like you must do all sorts of donkey jobs such as photocopying, checking invoices, going through pile and pile of documents and filing. You will also be wondering how come your superior whom you once looked up to have to suck up to clients. Oh yeah… most all clients are unreasonable.
If you’re an accountant, you will probably realise that there is no such thing called a ‘balance’ sheet. It’s balanced because you did the balancing act so that your big boss can sign on it and certify it as ‘true and fair’. Yeah… signing on accounts, the job that you once dreamed of… isn’t exactly all a bed of roses. You then realise that you will probably never reach that “just-need-to-sign-only stage” but hey… it’s ok, you probably hate that job by now. When you tell your client something, chances are you are just as blur and confuse as them. But you have to act as though you’re an expert because you’re the con-sul-tant. This is just a glimpse of it.
Now, all the late nights and irregular meals will probably caused you to age 8 years in 2 years. Those I-am-very-busy… I-have-a-lot-work… I-worked-till-very-late-last-night… I-can't-make-it-for-the-gathering-cos-I-have-to-work-this-weekend will take its toll on your body and it will show. You will probably look very skinny… or very far… you will certainly look old and worn out. Working late and spending weekends in the office is no longer a cool thing but absolute stupidity. But hey… you will still have to do it, because there’s still much work to be done.
By now, all your friends who ended up as salesmen or doing other thing except being a professional, those whom you felt superior to are driving anything but a proton. But for you, it’s time to think whether you should buy a proton cause your perodua is beginning to give you problem. Of course, if your father is well-connected fella, things can be different. But if you’re not, tough luck. You’ll be wondering how come you’re generally under-paid. Those exposure and learning curve that you once craved are no longer relevant. You want to make more money. But unless you’re a partner of the glamorous firm, money can be a lil tough to come by.
At this point of time, probably after 3, 4 or 5 years, you finally realised that document (click on this link!) you signed when you first joined the glamorous firm was nothing but lies. Then, you decide to ply your trade in the commercial world, you leave those glamorous firm. You think joining a commercial firm will bring about a good change, not knowing that such move means you switched from being a ‘profit centre’ to a ‘cost centre’. One of the main effect of the switch is that you will be working doubly hard compared to the profit centre, which probably includes a lot of late nights too… but your salary and bonus is much lower compared to profit centre. What does this mean… a story for another time.
One thing for sure… your morning will now be something like…
Your alarm rings, signalling another day… another weekday. You get up, after snoozing the alarm a million and one times. You hope today is Friday, but it’s not, and you feel like shit. You think of a million and one reasons to take MC, but you realised you have to go to office because you failed to finish the report due today though you stayed till 10pm last night. You tell yourself you need to change job, just like how you have been telling yourself in the last 1 year. Once in office, you’re in a dilemma cause you want time to go slower so that you can finish your work but yet, you want time to go faster so that you can leave the office and go for lunch.
During lunch, you will bitch with your colleagues about work and probably the bosses. You will all talk about so many people who seem to be doing so well except for you. You realised you should have done something else while in university.
You realised you may have made a mistake in life… a mistake in being a professional… you have made… a professional mistake.