For most of people their first real experience at earning a salary or wage was through a part-time job. My journey was no different. Maybe the difference was that mine was not a matter of choice but by necessity.
My first job was at a school based in Braamfontein, Johannesburg where my initial role was being an invigilator for the final matric examinations.
The following year I was asked if I would be interested in working a shift or two during the week and also on weekends for the Saturday classes. Any small opportunity to make some extra cash was welcomed with both hands but this newly found pot of gold meant I now had to learn to balance my job with my varsity schedule and commitments which I must admit wasn’t an easy task.
That job taught me a lot about what it means to be responsible and dependable. I remember at some point when I stayed in Carltonville I had to take the first metro rail train out of town and endure a 90 minute ride to Johannesburg.
It wasn’t so much the duration that was my issue but the time I had to wake up to take the train. Waking up at 04:00 am was now my portion. I remember one winter morning I looked around the train platform and I realised that I was the only person under 20 years on that platform.
It is then I appreciated the fact that we all have different journeys in this life as I knew that most people my age were in bed while I was waiting for a train to work on a freezing winter morning. Through it all this remains the best foundation of my working life.
I was in that role for almost two years and a half before I joined formal employment. The dynamics were now different as I was now working for the leading private bank in the country. Every day when I walked into that organisation I would still pinch myself because I could not believe that a boy from an unknown village in Limpopo is now working in “Sandton”.
The first year of working was the best as I had no fixed expenses besides rent and transport. I could send money home and life was the best. The challenge begins when now one decides to buy a car. A car comes with its own expenses from insurance, licencing, fuel and maintenance.
This is often the time most professionals learn how to properly manage their money and also the worst in terms of the mistakes that one can make with money. I write this with the greatest of confidence that no one will make the same mistakes or to the same degree when it comes to how to manage finances as I have.
After buying a car, the next step is to buy a house but unfortunately you find that you have also maxed out your affordability by buying the best car you could afford the year before. The solution is to wait for the next salary increase.
Unfortunately when the salary increase arrives it leaves you even more disappointed as more often it’s just a little above inflation for most people.
The next logical step is to look for another job that usually comes with a bit of premium so the house becomes affordable as well. Majority of people my age tend to not last more than two years at that job and will often move to another employer chasing the same “premium” increase.
Usually these moves have no sense of direction as the employee is moving purely for the money. Literally selling one’s soul to the highest bidder.
If one is not careful you could find your career with no sense of purpose, depth and satisfaction which will lead to even more frustration.
Most often before people turn thirty there’s a sense of awakening. Where one looks for a sense of identity and fulfilment in their careers. This is the same stage where they start to realise that they are left with on average another 30 years of their working life.
Here comes the need to make sure that the next 30 years is spent wisely. Some decide to pursue a postgraduate qualification with the hope of advancement in their careers some decide to change their career altogether now in search of passion rather than money.
The most successful are those who decide to work at making the most of their working life by gaining skills that will allow them to become leaders or to start their own businesses.
Having attended a few farewell functions of senior staff members have now reached their retirement age. It is at this point most of them make up their minds that that is not the life they see for themselves.
Some have a longing to leave a lasting legacy and they wonder if being an employee is enough for them. Those are the ones that go and create successful businesses the make the most impact not because they made lots of money in the process but because they wanted more out of life.
The lesson is pursue passion and true reward will follow you…