A lot of people look to me for mentoring and advice. When you see someone in the industry having success, it’s easy to think that they know it all and never have any setbacks, that their career was a straight path to success from day one. When I look at someone like Ivan Pepelnjak, a person I have a tremendous respect for, I imagine him knowing it all from day one. Of course, in reality, he had to learn it the hard way like the rest of us.
A couple of days ago I thought about writing a little about my background. To show people that it’s normal to have some bumps in your career and that success is not achieved overnight.
When I think back of my career so far, there’s two or three things that really bother me and where I had to learn some hard lessons.
When I was done with upper secondary school, I was SO tired of school. I had no motivation. My grades were mediocre. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that I had an interest in IT and that I was going to go through military training. This was in the year 2000. Pretty much straight after school I started working in the automotive industry, then I did my military training the first half of 2001 and then I was back to work again. So I worked in the automotive industry and I was good at it. I did all kinds of work. I could work all the lines and I could drive a truck, I could fix with their computers, I would also work as a shift manager. I learned two hard lessons at this time. The first one was that although my work was appreciated, they were not willing to pay extra for it. I wanted to bump my salary a bit because I could do anything needed and I did it well. But I still had the same salary as someone just dragging their feet. This bothered me. Why not show some appreciation? Why did I not even get a thanks when I saved their ass big time on occasions saving them tons of money? This was my first job so I had no experience of this. If you are an employer and reading this, this can totally 100% kill someone’s motivation. I didn’t want to put the extra work in after getting treated like this. In my perhaps imaginary world, I was expecting good work to pay off. It doesn’t always, at least not straight away.
The second thing that happened a couple of years later, still with the same employer, was that I started studying at the university in 2003. I was still employed but got time off from work to perform studies. I would work in the summer to get some extra money. I did this for a couple of years and then they wanted me to quit. I was quite shocked at the time. I was planning to see if they had a job for me in networking after I was done with my studies. They told me to move on with my life. This was a big event for me at the time. Although I knew it probably was the right move I wasn’t emotionally ready for it at the time. They were altering my future plans and I was pretty disgruntled with the situation. Of course, now, over 10 years later they are probably pretty bummed seeing where I am now but I would never have been able to stay there for that long considering I would have outgrown what they could offer me anyway. Sometimes life pushes you in a direction that you weren’t expecting. It can be tough but you have to deal with it.
I was done with my studies in 2005 and started applying for jobs. It’s always tough applying for your first job. Even for me, even though I had regained motivation for my studies and became an excellent student achieving the highest average of all students in my class, this doesn’t help much when applying for jobs. I was lucky to find a job. It was a job at a consulting company. They had a job for me at what was then known as EDS and was later acquired by HP. This was a dream come true. They had huge plans for me, they would sponsor me becoming a CCIE and the work sounded very interesting. BOOM Did you hear that sound? That’s my dream crashing to the ground. Before I could even start working there, things started going very wrong. There was some kind of internal debate within EDS on where the job should be. This job was supposed to be in Sweden but someone internally probably wanted the job filled in another geography. I was sitting there waiting, without anything to do, to see if the situation would get resolved. Months went by… I was getting more and more nervous. What was going on?! Eventually, after 6 months or so both I and the consulting company realized this was going nowhere. I had to leave that job without even ever starting… What a dick move by EDS to bait someone like that and not go through with it. My life was crashing in front of me. I was actually depressed for quite some time. My friends and family didn’t recognize me and my mood for quite some time. I was out of a job and didn’t know what to do. I went back to what I knew best at that time, the university. I studied for an extra year doing different courses and then I was lucky to land a job with a service provider through an old friend of mine. And from 2007 and forward it has thankfully been much smoother sailing.
So, in your face EDS and the consulting company from 2005. Although I’m not disgruntled any more about it you lost what could have been one of your best employees ever.
I hope this story can give you some inspiration when you are having a tough time in your career that we all go through some rough patches but if you stick with it, you’ll end up in a good place in the end.