Sorry to my 20 year old self
When I was in my second year of university, I set my eyes on a company because I aligned well with its mission. However, after a mere 3-month internship stint there this summer, I found myself gravitating away from the company.
The work culture was quite slow and rigid. To do a simple action, there could be so many processes required. For instance, to download a source code editor, one would have to attain approval, download source files from a secure hard disk, then wait for an IT guy with relevant access rights to start the download. Bam, one whole afternoon gone. I also recall bringing up some improvements to the system before, only to have my suggestions be “rejected” because well, it’s just the way things have been for a long time.
Getting work done (fast) was tough. Due to tightened security measures and slow admin processes, I did not manage to gain access rights to the systems used by my department. As a result, it was quite detrimental to my progress as I often had to request a colleague to help me with temporary access (via their own accounts), and occasionally play the waiting game for them to reply me. Sometimes, if the other parties were busy with meetings, I would be left quite “handicapped” and unable to complete much in the time being. That was quite frustrating for me.
I lost “faith”. Throughout my internship period, I was also carefully evaluating whether joining the company (as a fresh graduate) would enable me to build a strong software engineering foundation. Sad to say, my confidence diminished over the weeks as I noticed the tools and technology mostly used and observed how things were done. For example, version control using git was not implemented, in its place was a primitive method of using shared folders, albeit because of tightened security as well. I worried deeply for my (tech) career in the long term if I joined the company and held strong reservations about doing so.
I was quite ready to “run away”, but was still hesitant because well, what if the grass was greener on the other side? Maybe things would be better in another department, for another role? However, when I found out the rough salary range for the fresh graduates there, I made up my mind to walk away because it was below my expected salary. I refused to short-change myself, given my calibre and past experiences.
I had just ended my internship and won’t be joining back as a full-time staff, due to the above stated reasons. It’s been quite a frustrating time for me. I know that it’s my fault for painting too rosy a picture beforehand, when the reality was that the company hardly checked my boxes. Cultural fit is such an understated factor.
So, to conclude, what I learnt was to never promise my future to a company or associate my achievements or milestones to a specific company. No more saying, “it’s my dream to work in company X” because while I can believe in a company’s mission, working there may not be what I want.
Moving forward, I want to focus on a goal that’s more intrinsic and valuable, and I’m still figuring that out.
Thank you for reading!