Category Archives: Reflection

Finding Meaning in Work

In late August, I was fortunate enough to receive a job offer for a Work Learn position. After being interviewed over Skype in the dingy corner of the Harvard Museum of Natural History and submitting references, relief and ecstasy were two dominant emotions on my mind. Having been employed in a small bookstore where I got paid in check and was often sent home early due to a consistent lack of customers, any position with a scrap of legitimacy was enough to get me excited.

Indeed, for the first few days, I was eager to learn and worked fastidiously, dutifully leaving my phone in my bag and switched to silent mode. After a week, however, I began listening to podcasts. As most of my duties were secretarial in nature and did not require immense brainpower, having an auditory distraction was not particularly damaging to my level of productivity. The real problems began to develop when I failed to find meaning in the repetitive and mechanical tasks in which I was engaging, leading to frequent binges of articles on New York Times. The work was so predictable and basic that there is no way anyone could fail at accomplishing it, which induces a sense of comfort, but also boredom.

Personally, I prefer to find meaning in and define my life by the challenges I overcome. It is my nature to not judge success by perseverance and commitment, but by how often I try (and possibly fail at) new activities. This can be problematic (see: taking different dance lessons for a year and stockpiling jazz and ballet shoes), but the resulting variety is exhilarating. My job, however, while seeming resume-perfect on the surface, just doesn’t provide me with the same euphoria as the prospect of tackling a backgrounder for Model UN or reading about the history of ballet.

Before this school year ends, I would like to reach the stage where repetition at work is peaceful and meaningful, just so I can experience that kind of “blank” contentment. Otherwise, I’ll simply have to come to terms with my capricious personality, and try to determine how to best use it to my advantage, a topic for another post.

A Reflection on Hard Choices

“Why are you choosing to live a harder life?”

This has been a question repeatedly posed by my father regarding my decision to transfer from Sauder to Science, a contentious topic in my household. For him and many other members of my family, a degree in business with Sauder written on it in gold calligraphy followed by a career in accounting is the epitome of success. It is a safe and “easy” route, with an abundance of job opportunities and relatively few required qualifications.

In contrast, my desire to transfer into Science with vague ideations of attending medical school (I purchased MCAT books a few months ago; most of them are still in mint condition) seems as flippant as a toddler scrawling outside of thick black lines in a colouring book. I have been repeatedly told that I am throwing away an opportunity for which many others would kill. Judging by the number of hands in the air at a mentorship session for twelfth graders when asked, “Who is applying to Sauder?”, I am, indisputably, enduring the dream of many.

Internally, as well, I am barraged with doubt over whether or not I will regret this ephemeral decision I made in my youth two, ten, twenty, fifty years from now, Sometimes, I am forced to wonder if choosing Science is a way of silent rebellion against my family’s traditional ideals, against their questions regarding my potential boyfriends rather than my academic or extracurricular work. When doubts like these seep in, I attempt to reaffirm the authenticity of my decision by making a list of what I hope to gain from my future career:

  1. Opportunities to collaborate and innovate with others
  2. Opportunities to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals and, by extension, communities
  3. Opportunities to be involved in a globally connected field that transcends political borders
  4. Opportunities to be humbled by the accomplishments of others

Being involved in business, to varying extents, historically conflicts with all of these expectations. Perhaps I am biased and naive, but I intrinsically do believe that Science is the correct route for me, despite the ulterior motives that are suspected to be clouding my judgment. Getting accepted into medical school will certainly be challenging, but dragging myself through an unwanted degree for four years is simply impossible and unbearable.