16 June, 2013
Life is sometimes complicated as well, though my methods of coping with the challenges is simple... baby steps. It has been two-and-half years since I started out as a freelance trainer and technical editor. There have been many ups-and-downs. Overall though, it has been a hugely rewarding journey so far.
I never wanted to be self-employed because essentially I like working in a team. I love being paid regularly at the end of the month. And, most importantly, the German social system is highly robust (medical, dental, unemployment, and pension) for employees of companies and not in the least for the self-employed. Being employed instead of self-employed is the path of least resistance: in a good way and not in the “lie back and think of England” way.
A friend of mine entered the corporate world after being self-employed at the same time as I did the opposite. I worked in large corporations for nearly 30 years. She worked successfully as a freelance writer for over ten. She is fifteen years younger than I am and still has a promising career ahead of her. It will be interesting to see what happens to us over the next 15 years. The rewards and challenges of our work are distinctly different.
What I notice the most in our talks is her clarity about her worth. She not only knows how to make herself useful in the company where she is working, but she know where it is she wants to go. This drive is fuelled by the healthy self-confidence of someone who has survived and succeeded on her own and not by pure ambition to climb the ladder for the sake of acquiring privilege.
Thirty years ago, when I finished my studies, most graduates stepped seamlessly into the corporate world. There were a wealth of opportunities. We could choose the field of our interests, in my case medical equipment, as well as the country we wished to work in. This is why I choose Germany, since they are strong leaders in manufacturing medical equipment. Other students in my graduating classes took a large variety of job positions all over the world.
This has changed. There is no guarantee a university graduate will find a job after graduation. Even though this is as an appalling situation, I think there are two aspects, which developed out of this hard reality that are worth considering. First, self-employment becomes far more attractive, even for persons with minimal professional experience. Secondly, if the system of building a sterling career at a major corporation is broken, than young people should be allowed to experiment, take risks, start again, and even mistakes in their job choices.
A former student I worked with asked me recently to meet, so we could talk about a job offer he had been given. We talked for an hour discussing all the various pros and cons of the job. “Should I take the job?” was a far more complicated question in his mind than it was in mine. I could have simply answered, “Yes!”, when he first asked the question, but then we wouldn’t have shared a cup of coffee and such an interesting conversation.
Finally found some time and redid the layout of this blog. Hope you like it. Also on the looonnnggg list of things to do, is returning to my once loved pastime of making collages. A wonderfully creative pursuit that has always brought me much joy.