Take the Role and Prove Yourself
My message to the graduating class of 2020 and other young professionals trying to find their feet in the job market.
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Source: Baim Hanif
To the graduating class of 2020, you are entering the work force at a time of great uncertainty and rapid change. The global lockdown which was activated by various governments around the world has:
Increased the rate of adoption of remote working.
Contracted the GDP of the G20 countries.
Reduced employment in certain industries.
Increased job opportunities in certain industries.
You're probably not interested in some of the jobs in the job market right now. You probably went into university with lofty ambitions of what you want to achieve; and with an idea of the industry and the company you wanted to work with from the start.
However, the lockdown has disturbed your plans. I present this newsletter to encourage and give you hope. I will be using an event from Nikola Tesla’s life as a means of encouragements. My hope is that you learn a thing from the event and take practical lessons from it.
Enter Nikola Tesla and His first Job in America.
When Nikola Tesla moved to America from France in 1884, his first job was working for Thomas Edison. The job came as a result of Mr Charles Batchelor’s letter of recommendation to Edison for Tesla. The contents of the letter were
I know two great men and you are one of them; the other is this young man
The introduction by Mr Batchelor gave Tesla access to Edison; Edison was a busy important person at this time.
Tesla was impressed with Edison while Edison was not impressed with Tesla. However, due to the high regards that Edison held Batchelor too, Tesla was given a job to do minor routine work. A role which was far too small compared to the prodigious talent Tesla had. A few weeks later, an opportunity presented itself to Tesla that demonstrated his ability to Edison.
The steamship Oregon, the fastest and most modern passenger ship at the time, used an electric plant installed by Edison. The installation had worked well for sometime before malfunctioning - The dynamos had stopped working. The consensus by the technical experts working for Mr Edison was that the dynamos had to be taken to Edison’s shop to be fixed because the dynamos could not be fixed on the ship. Edison asked the lowly ranked and newly hired Tesla to go to the ship and see if Tesla could come up with a solution. Tesla was able to fix the dynamos on the ship within 14 hours.
Edison was very impressed and quickly raised Tesla’s status within the company. This got Tesla working closer with the design and operating department which to lead to his inventions in improving the efficiency of Dynamos over the next eight months. His work in the design and operating department under Edison ensured that when he left Edison in 1885, he was able to get small funding to form the Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing Company in New York.
Many a-times, brilliant young people join an organisation and want to start right at the top or at a glamorous role. They get aggrieved when they are not given the shiny, glamorous role that commands respect or gives social proof. This tends to result in them doing a poor job of whatever role they have been given.
I posit that we can learn from the Tesla story described above. Take the job and prove yourself once an opportunity presents itself. It might not be what you envisioned last year before the pandemic and lockdown. It’s important to get into the door and then set the standards to where you believe you belong.
Tesla took the job without complaining. He showed his skills by actions. By solving a need for his boss- Edison, Tesla showed that there was something different about him. This led to his immediate elevation in rank by Edison. If you get an opportunity like Tesla, what would you do?
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