Playing with my future

Finding a full-time job has been the most mentally draining process I've ever had to go through. I'm applying to mostly start-ups, so my future isn't in the hands of psychology-trained recruiters, but of heterodox weirdos determining the future of earth. I have very little criteria, i'm location agnostic, i'm relatively sector agnostic, and the roles i'm applying for range from product to operations to chief of staff. The only criteria I require are a steep learning curve, that they're building something important (no photo sharing or dating apps), and access to people 10x smarter than me.

I've applied to ±70 companies, engaged in ±15 first round conversations, and completed a handful case studies. One Crypto company even offered me a job with a ludicrous compensation package far beyond my skillset. Akin to their questionable business model, they withdrew the offer for reasons I still wonder about today. It's crazy to think that recruiters have the power to dramatically alter my life path and get to decide what problems I work on. If recruiters used Playstation controllers instead of trackpads, I could comfortably get behind the idea of us living in a simulation.

I also got denied from another FinTech startup building a bank for the supposed Gen-Z. My arrogant-self suspects the 22-year old interviewing me was scared for his own job. My realistic self would say I should've done better during the case study. The latter was probably correct. On a side note: I've been called a grandpa in a 22-year old's body, so maybe it just wasn't for me. One interviewer even told me my resume was extremely strong, and then proceeded to reject me a day later. She instilled confidence in me, but understandably even more confusion (if it's not the CV, is it me?!).

One mistake I always make at around the 3rd interview is I start to picture myself working at the company. Sometimes I'll even look for apartments or green space near the office. I learned the hard way this is not something you should do. I'm not sure why this took me a while to understand but it turns out it's not smart to picture yourself in a bunch of jobs before you're offered to work there.

Albeit, some people are obsessed with companies before they even apply. Let's call this the extreme left side of the caring spectrum. The stakes are also significantly higher here (win big if you get the gig, lose big cause you're not mentally ready to work for anyone else). Other people don't care where they work. This is the polar opposite of the aforementioned extreme — let's call it the right end of the spectrum. Not caring obviously comes with little or no stakes. When I apply to jobs, I start on the right side — by not caring. This is also how I manage to apply to so many jobs in so little time. As the # of interviews increase, I move left and I start to care about the role more and more. I'm probably describing the average job hunt, but writing about it might leave me with a better idea of how to get rid of the mental dread of companies playing with my future. Perhaps a rule of thumb is to be extreme right-wing and not care about the company until you get an offer. Maybe you should only care once your life can actually change and then decide what to do. In case anyone asks, I didn't plan the oddly accurate political analogy two sentences ago.

I'd probably be more mentally stable if I filtered down my job search to the 3 basic inputs that determine a career, at least for me. Namely: role, industry, and location. Keep them constant and you're set to be e.g. an Analyst in Investment Banking in New York. This would put me at ease, but it wouldn't excite me. The outputs of these filters are the people you meet, experiences you have, and the beliefs you will eventually subscribe to. In the example, you would probably be surrounded by East-Coast bankers in New York who likely adhere to liberal values and capitalism. Change a single input and your output changes drastically e.g. Banking in Nepal, Filmmaking in New York. Let these 3 filters run free and you literally have the world to choose from e.g. Basket Weaver in Laos, Herder in Chile. You could argue some filters determine more than others, but for the most part it's safe to describe the randomness of my job hunt as a hash function rather than a simple function.

Someone at some point said “when nothing is for sure, everything is possible”. While it’s undoubtedly true and exciting, this pretty piece of wisdom tends to forget it's not only the upside that's being unbounded. Uncertainty is the overlooked lower bound of maximizing opportunities in life — which in hindsight is probably a luxury problem, life is gr8.

Even though most sequels suck, I will write another post when I've officially signed a contract (if any).

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