After graduating, I had a short stint in the financial services industry and thereafter I began my career in the industry of my dreams, petrochemicals. My career began as a graduate intern for a multinational oil major. I had found my calling! It was in business support, the quantifying of sales and marketing business efforts into profit and loss.
I spent days, nights and weekends ensuring that I learnt as much as possible about that aspect of the business and as a result of the effort, I was headhunted by a different division of the company 11 months into the program. I knew that I wasn’t particularly passionate about the division I was asked to join, but the pressures from my “things to do by 25” list hit. As young professionals, we are constantly bombarded with lists noting young individuals doing extraordinary things in their fields; with Forbes and Times magazines 30 under 30 lists being the most prominent. The purpose of these lists is to serve as motivators for success, but they also create a sense that in order for one to be truly successful, one has to do it in their youth.
I have since learnt that living a purpose-driven life does not succumb to the same rules. Despite the lack of interest in the division I was called into, I accepted the offer because I was in a race to buy my first car, my first home and find a specialization in the workplace that would send me on a path to become captain of industry in my chosen field. A few months into this new role, the cracks began to show. My work ethic had dwindled and a once extremely excited employee felt a deep sense of internal dissonance. Within one year in this space, I knew I had to course correct and acquire the skills needed to move back into the space of my former glory. I needed to go back to school to complete a Master’s degree and it was a matter needing urgent attention.
What I have come to realize about fulfillment is the psychological effects that this has. It brings about feelings of lack of control, limits vision and self-belief and decreases drive; a price too high to pay. The plan was to resign from my job and study full time. To say that this decision was met with skepticism from colleagues, friends and family would be an understatement. Armed with the knowledge of exactly what I wanted and did not want out of a career, I quit my job two years into it to pursue a Master’s degree full time. Now as a full-time student, I can confidently say that this has been an extremely gratifying decision. Filled with a renewed sense of direction and purpose I can say that I am moving boldly into the direction of my dreams. I started over.
Things to consider before leaving your job to study full time
Define your goal:
Knowing the reason why you want to further your studies will help keep momentum and help decide which program is best suited to your needs. Clear goals also allow you to take advantage of campus and student resources that could enhance chances of success post-degree. It also allows you the opportunity to profile people who have gotten where you want to go in order to ascertain whether it is additional education that you need or if additional experience could yield the same results.
Spending time with no income can be daunting so planning expenses is vital. Prior to leaving employment, save as much as you can into short term savings vehicles such as a savings accounts or unit trusts and ensure that funds will be available when you need them. During your time studying, decrease spending to make your savings stretch longer. I moved back home to eliminate rental spend and my shoe fetish had to take a back seat.
Keep and grow your corporate networks:
Keep in touch with the network of contacts you built in your company. Nurturing these contacts can be extremely useful once you complete your studies. Those networks will act as references when job hunting, offer employment once your studies have been completed or recommend you to their peers in similar organizations. Keeping and building those networks ensures you are and remain top of mind for new opportunities.
Article Written By: Nosipho Musisi
BCom Business Management & Economics [Rhodes University];
Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration [Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University];
Current: Masters in Business Administration [Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University]
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