The Runaway MBA: A financial career does not allow you any freedom; you are truly a wage slave

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It took an act of god, but I managed to do it. I landed an illusive two-month contract at a financial services firm. I remember the call where I negotiated terms of my assignment: trumpets blared in the background.

At the time I did not care whether the responsibilities matched those of my previous jobs: it was cash flow. I would be back in an office with a coffee machine, speaker phone and conference room. I was on the road to where I needed to be. I would have a pay cheque. I was momentarily relieved.

On the first day I enthusiastically bounced to work. I was ecstatic. I was oblivious to being asked “where is your security card?” I remember thinking: “What is this? Why do I need it?” My time doing an MBA had converted my old corporate-finance mindset into a comparatively bohemian one, even with all my networking and interviewing. It had taken me far away from the reality of what it was like to work in an office.

A job or a distraction?

There are several valuable lessons that I learned during the contract assignment. As relieved as I was to have money in my bank account, I quickly realised that the job was distracting me from the interests I wanted to pursue when I first went to business school.

I had succumbed, temporarily, back into the world I had been desperately trying to leave. The momentum that I maintained in my network during my period of job hunting did not subside; it completely disappeared. I had to rely on notes and email chains to remember who I was trying to connect with and why. It was painful trying to juggle my new job responsibilities with my long-term professional priorities.

While in business school I forgot to enjoy the immense freedom that does not exist when you are working. A financial career does not allow for freedom without typecasting you as lazy or “not smart”, which I now recognise as being completely ridiculous.

Perhaps there is no true lesson in this blog, but it is an observation about the effect that a choice had on my life. Was I right postpone my search for a permanent role and be tempted by the cash of a temporary position?

I do not regret my choice. I think that returning to an office helped me remember a bit more of my professional self, something that had softened during my time as a student. It also taught me that I was being too hard on myself during my job search: enjoy freedom while it lasts!

The Runaway MBA is an American financial professional who is interested in moving to Asia. The views expressed are hers and not those of eFinancialCareers.

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