• Sridhar Rajendran

Day 26 — Unspoken rules and missed opportunities

Updated: Aug 23, 2018

Not everything in life needs to be long-term

Image credit: Unsplash

During the course of my job hunt, I started out with an ideal version of the workplace filled with legos and crayons. But I accepted the reality which was different. Another big mental shift was becoming comfortable with short-term contracts as opposed to a full-time role.

There are some unspoken rules in every industry that nobody tells you. When it came to design, some employers preferred to hire designers as contractors. They preferred to assess the employee’s skills before offering them a full-time role. Few of them viewed design as an activity that should last no more than 2–3 months.

In general, I like stability in life and make decisions with a longer horizon in sight. The construct of accepting a short-term engagement was alien to me and startled my ego. What if they figure out I am an imposter in 3 months and don’t renew the contract? Maybe they don’t give much importance to design, would I really learn anything here? And many other worst-case scenarios churned out by my over-active imagination kept me away from a significant chunk of jobs that were available.

A month into the job hunt, I got an offer from a design studio I adored and wanted to work with. The only caveat, start with a 3-month contract and then become a permanent employee based on the performance. Back then, I was naive to believe that it is easy to get hired at a top company with no design degree or prior work experience. And so I let go of that opportunity. Not once, but twice. They called me back in a month to check again if I was still interested.

No thank you, I am waiting for a sign from the Universe.

Image credit: GIPHY

In retrospect, I was a fool back then and did not realise it. One of my mentors told me, “When you are a nobody, take the first job that comes along your way and build your career from it”. Self-initiated projects are cute but in the real world, nobody gives a damn especially if you are an experienced candidate. It might work for someone fresh out of college because the expectations of them are low.

If I could go back in time, I would take up that job. Even if I did not manage to convert it into a full-time gig, I would have 3 months of real-world experience on my resume. It is better than the free work I did as design assignments that don’t count.

Like I became comfortable with the idea of working at startups, I became comfortable with starting out as a consultant/freelancer. The biggest hurdle was disassociating my ego with the outcome of the result. I needed to consider a contract as a probation period. The fact I could not land a full-time gig does not mean I am bad or the employer doesn’t value design. It just is. No point feeling about feelings and making life miserable. On the bright side, I could leave a company that I did not like any time sooner.

Surprisingly when I started applying for short-term contracts, I got offers for full-time roles. Oh, Universe! Maybe the lesson was to drop the ego and be comfortable with uncertainty in life.