My parents (mostly my mom) put a huge emphasis on school. Although neither of them graduated from post-secondary, they both regarded school as the ticket to a better life. Instead of going out with friends or participating in extracurricular activities, they wanted me (and my siblings) to study, study and then study some more. They had hopes that I would become a doctor, engineer or a lawyer (if I grew up in India there would have been a fourth – a government job). Unfortunately for them, I did not have an interest in any of those.
My first job was with a bank with the federal government as its only shareholder (so I kind of met the government job requirement). Dwarfed in size by the major banks in Canada and limited to a half dozen products, I was forced to pick up the phone and cold call. I had to prospect for new clients. An introvert by nature, it took me a few weeks to work up the courage to make my first call but knew that if I didn’t do it, I would be out of work. Fear is an unbelievable motivator. I spent two years in banking and was fortunate (or lucky) to have exceeded my targets every quarter.
Next came recruiting. I thought this would be easier and I wouldn’t have to make very many cold calls. I was wrong. We couldn’t rely on job postings to find candidates, I had to pick up the phone! I went from making 10 calls a day in banking to over 50 calls a day (plus emails) in recruiting – this was before LinkedIn. What school (and a couple degrees later) gave me was the basics of finance, accounting, HR, marketing, and general business knowledge so I would sound somewhat intelligent on the phone when speaking with clients and candidates. What school didn’t give me was the skills to pick up the phone and sell.
For my parents, job status was everything. Especially coming here from India and working hard to make a better life for their kids. Although my mom (my dad has passed) doesn’t quite still understand what I do for a living, she’s just thrilled that I can make a reasonable living out of what I do. What started off as a 1 or 2-year stint in recruitment before finding a “real job”, I’m in an industry that has kept me engaged for over 18 years.