Sunday, 5 February 2012

A year after the transition

There are moments when it never hurts to look back on one’s old thoughts and review their accuracy with hindsight. A year ago I, a half-baked graduate, just in the eve of starting my first permanent job, set out to summarise ups and downs of leaving university and stepping into the corporate world. Time to quote my thoughts from February 2011 and confront them with my views today.


1. Day-to-day contact with peers. Truth be told my colleagues will be a bit or much older than me. From my past experience I know I can get along with older colleagues very well, but they are a sort of a different breed, they have different problems, pastime activities, interests, priorities in life, usually they have a different point of view because they have their own families and obligations it entails.

I somehow miss it less than I expected. I’ve always found it easy to get along with older people and so I do at work, but there’s a noticeable gap between us – most of them have spouses and children, hence have different duties and problems. I haven’t experienced their daily bread, they long for carefree period of youth in which I, in their opinion, still am.

2. Clever, awe-inspiring lecturers, just to name a few:
dr Bogusław Czarny, who taught me basic micro- and macroeconomics, inspired to think independently, form my own opinions and who stressed the importance of the overriding rule in economics, that an assertion is true when it cannot be disproved, not when it can be proved,
prof. Marek Garbicz, for his breathtaking lectures, sense of humour and open mind,
prof. Maria Podgórska, for her patience, consistency and the fact she did not confine just to teach econometrics and mathematics in finance and insurance, but also wanted to instil in us integrity and made us aware how important in life it was,
mgr Sławomira Rajkowska, my best German teacher ever, unfortunately she stood in for our lecturer just for one term, but the progress I made (without much effort) was unbelievable. Had my Deutsch been that good today...
mgr Aneta Piwko, my best English teacher ever. If all teachers had such excellent command of English, passion and drive to teach, Germans would not stack up against Poles in terms of English skills.
prof. Sławiński... Here words are very unnecessary. Who experienced the pleasure of attending his lectures knows what I mean. The rest may only regret.
dr Piotr Mielus, the supervisor of my MA thesis and an outstanding practitioner.

True, but on the other hand, I met several awe-inspiring people where I work, and, like at SGH, many mediocre individuals (who are in a minority). I should kick myself for not attending open lectures at my school, or not visiting some of my favourite scholars during their office hours. Yet still there time to make up…

3. Casual clothes. From next week will fit for weekends, holidays and cult dress-down Fridays. I actually like formal outfits so this one should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Well, I’m still at the age, when I don’t mind wearing a suit and tie (business casual dress code Mon – Thu), but dress code policy is much more flexible than I expected – if I don’t have any important meeting there’s no reason why I couldn’t wear jeans, casual shirt, or a jumper if I feel like.

4. Commuting in non-peak hours. Lovely it was to get from or to Warsaw within fifty minutes in the middle of the day or in the evening when streets were already unclogged. My new recipe for avoiding traffic jams will be trains, so the journey between home and the office should take around an hour.

In July I swapped trains for a car, since then I’ve used public transport within the boundaries of Warsaw only (P&R to work and back + getting about town). I depart for work in early rush hours when traffic is snarled-up, but not stationary. I return to P&R in late rush-hours or after it. Carrying one’s arse in a vehicle is convenient, but expensive…

5. Job fairs, event, meeting famous people who visited SGH and other events. First two and a half years abounded in such events. Later the crisis came, companies cut their promotion budgets and I ran out of disposable pens.

At work there are different events during which I can pick up other gadgets. And I slightly miss these small talks with representatives of employers on potential internships. These days internships are beyond the scope of my career interests and provided no big wipe-out (i.e. lay-offs) strikes out of the blue, I should hold down the job.

6. Privileges. Not that soon. I will pick up my diploma some three months after the final MA exam, so I until then will I make the most of my ticket concession and other measurable benefits of being a student. The new world will compensate me for this by giving perks.

I lost my privileges on the last day of June 2011. From then I’ve had to pay the full fare for my travelcard, but on the other hard I have a health-care package, swimming pool entry card and reimbursement of glasses expenses.

7. Unfettered speculation on stock exchange. From now I will not be able to do a real-time trading plus I will have several trading restrictions. This does not mean I will pull back from the stock market at all; the speculator will become a mid-term investor.

I have to keep away from some stocks and I’m obliged to submit weekly report on my trading activity. These days all those limitations don’t hurt me at all, I don’t understand where and why markets are heading, so I trade very cautiously, or not trade at all.


1. The overwhelming mess, bad communication between authorities and students and general disinformation.

Replace “authorities” with “superiors” and “students” with “subordinates”, and the sentence stays true!

2. Ignorance and laziness of lecturers. I do not even wish to comment. The list of admired lecturers was short. The list of big let-downs from the whole course of my studies would be much longer...

The problem of ignorance is far less appalling, actually people there are well-educated and reservations concerning their expertise are rather sparse. Plus they are ready to lend a helping hand and share their experience, if I’m in need.

3. Workings of the student office (dziekanat), its surly personnel, quaint decisions (deleting completed courses from track record of studies, informing me about my Bachelor's exam the day before in the evening)...

Thank God I’ve finished school! But a private corporation with head office in the fatherland of capitalism has its own set of absurdities, equally enervating.

4. To boot bad organisation, doing everything at eleventh hour...

This has not sunk into oblivion, just manifests itself in a different way. Closing deal at eleventh hour is not infrequent, being assigned tasks with tight deadlines is not uncommon, but it’s typical for the corporate world and at least if the job is done correctly, it’s appreciated.

5. Appalling use of English, which was ridiculed on this blog repeatedly.

At the bank virtually everyone uses English and everyone does it as good as they can, still too often with putting too little emphasis on quality. People from London or from the US have got accustomed to us mangling English. I’ve been reproved a few times for using too difficult (for native speakers) vocabulary, but no one’s ever told me off for polishing up a piece written in not-up-to-the-standard English.

6. Broken down central heating when outside it was -15C or unopenable windows and lack of curtains or blinds when outside temperature hit +30C

It’s been kind of dreadfully cold over the last week and temperature in my office was around +19C, barely above the threshold of +18C, allowing employees to refuse to work. But aircon was doing well in summer.

7. Lectures at 19:00 for day-time students (prevalent, alas).

There were a few incidences of working later than until 7 p.m. over that year, with record-late knock-off at quarter to nine in the evening, but if you think anyone at the top cares that it’s after 5 p.m. and it should be your private time, you’re wrong.

Immersing in the corporate world will not only mean I will be self-supporting, but also will bring new challenges and real learning opportunities. In the coming months I expect to work harder and learn more than within four and a half years of my studies.

Here I wasn’t wrong.

Hitherto I have not observed any symptoms of depresja magisterska, (graduates afflicted with this malady are down in the dumps because the carefree period of studies is drawing to a close and they are in for forty years of work), but the worst might be still to come.

There have been ups and downs over that year, but all in all I don’t miss school. Somewhere deep down I feel the clock is ticking, years are passing by (about to turn 25 in ten months) and self-fulfilment should lie above all outside work, if for somebody it also lies within it, they must be very happy.


Michael Dembinski said...

"I’ve been reproved a few times for using too difficult (for native speakers) vocabulary"

'Reproved'? Surely you mean 'reprehended'...?

Indeed! I look it up...

Goodness gracious! Here I am, a well-read native English speaker, 54 years old, two degrees from British university, a professional writer and indeed teacher of the English language, and I've NEVER heard of this word before!

Incidentally, do take a look at the wide variety of synonyms for 'reprove'...

Which just goes to show...

Keep it simple and straightforward - though (as Bartek has informed me) - keep off the phrasal verbs as they can confuse the non-native speakers.

I'd use 'criticised' as the best choice of word in this context (unless it was an official telling-off, in which case 'reprimanded').

student SGH said...

I've glanced at the list of synonyms and I've never heard of: objurgate, threap, excoriate, chide and castigate...

adthelad said...

isn't funny how you can use a word with the same root and not be familiar with its other uses - 'reprehensible' some might say- and there is no way in the world you haven't have heard of that one :)

I see a great improvement in your written English - way to go!!