Nur Amira, an SMU student, wrote this:This year's batch of university graduates have just entered the workforce 5/8 and some are having a hard time adjusting to their jobs. They complain that they are not being given important work, or that they have to report every little thing to a boss. Do they expect too much? YouthInk writers have their say.
I found Nur's article somewhat confusing. She seems unclear about the differences between hard, boring, challenging and easy work. Or perhaps the ST sub-editor mangled the article and inadvertently destroyed its flow. Because the article is not making much sense to me.
Aug 14, 2006
Don't expect work to be a walk in the park
By Nur Amira Abdul Karim
WORK, as the term suggests, involves performing a series of sometimes unfulfilling tasks that may not be completely mindless but may very well involve the drudgery of repetition, struggle and sweat.
If someone happens to enjoy the drudgery of work, then it is a bonus.
But why anyone would expect work to be a walk in the park is beyond me.
Do not get me wrong. I am a strict advocate of being passionate about what you do.
Yet, there is an ugly sense of impatience among some of my peers who want their ambitions fulfilled almost immediately.
Grades and degrees are testimony to your calibre, which is different from your ability to succeed.
How far you go is determined by your approach to work, the extent that you allow your impatience to defeat you, and your ability to reconcile your expectations to the reality of the working world.
Many young working adults cannot manage their expectations. They are frustrated by having to perform menial tasks.
To be fair, the work they do hardly matches the qualifications they hold.
While I understand and sympathise with their frustration, it would be good if young people matched their perceived abilities with a comparable dose of humility.
If you feel underchallenged at work, you probably are. Who could be in a better position to know? No one. (For that matter, you're the best person to know whether you're overchallenged at work). Also, whether a task is menial is relative to the individual's level of competence and ability. If you feel that your work is menial, then it is.
According to Nur, some of her peers have an "ugly sense of impatience" and are "frustrated by having to perform menial tasks". Her advice is that they should match their perceived ability with a "comparable dose of humility". Strangely, she also advises them not to expect work to be "a walk in the park". Yet I imagine that her "impatient" peers are precisely the ones who don't want work to be a walk in the park - instead, they want it to be challenging.
My own advice is this. If you're a young capable person stuck in a menial job, go find out what your career path and development prospects are, with your current employer. Where are the opportunities for change? Can you get more challenging assignments? (Sometimes you just have to open your mouth and ask). Is your menial work just a very temporary state of affairs, or will you still doing the same menial work 12 months from now? If so, you'd better quit and work elsewhere.
In my opinion, menial work is one of the most valid reasons for work frustration. Furthermore, it is quite dangerous to stay long in any job which you find menial. That only shows that you aren't learning anything of value (or that you aren't learning as much as you should be). Either way, in the age of the Knowledge Economy, that's a risky situation to be in.
There are a few things which Nur may not understand about the reality of the working world. If you are very obliging about doing menial work, you may simply be dumped with more and more menial work. If you are very patient about your career prospects, you may be perceived as lacking in drive and ambition (therefore you won't be given bigger responsibilities or a higher position). And if you keep on doing menial work for a long time, you endanger your own c.v and therefore your future career prospects.
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