a better job

How to Know a Better Job

How to Know a Better Job

Last week saw me handle an advanced excel task. I have been running away from excel all my life and on a particular day in my life, I was given an excel task to do.

I was to do a cohort analysis from a data that spanned about a year. I did all I could – watched videos on YouTube, read articles and all of a sudden, I got stuck.

I was stuck for two reasons

  1. The data was dirty and needed to be cleaned for a cohort analysis to come through – this was something I did not even know considering I had not background in excel.
  2. I lacked the foundation in excel to be able to interpret and implement formula when needed

I woke up that day to work with a different plan entirely only to get to the office and be presented with a task I had no idea about. Yes, I found my way around it all thanks to one of my colleagues who I ran to for help. We had a video call and fixed it together – to be honest, she did most of the work. I was also able to broker a deal to learn the fundamentals of excel.

A good job is one that is largely controlled. The process and the output are connected linearly. This means there is a guideline to doing thing. If you do this, this would happen. It doesn’t give you room to explore but rather are caged in a predefined process.

For instance, a customer service agent in a bank has their duties. Open account, attend to customers complaints, etc. An admin staff has similar role too. To get another customer service officer is very easy and cheap. In about 5 days, you can train a person to be a customer service officer. Pretty straight forward. The creative prowess between the best customer service officer and the worst customer service officer can be 10:1. This is because being a customer service officer does not demand a lot of thinking through or problem solving. Most of the tasks are predefined. So, you will not be promoted based on how creative you are but based on how much you are able to do and how many years you spend.

However, a better job is one where the input and output are largely disconnected. You know what you want but getting want you want would come through a lot of testing, trials and errors. Here, your job is to think creatively to solve problems – mostly abstract.

Here, you are drilled beyond your ability to come up with a working solution to an unforeseen problem. Take for instance, a software development team who wakes up to see lots of complaints on the app they had built. The customers are complaining that the app keeps shutting down – an app that has been working for a while now. In order not to lose these customers, the developers are tasked with the job of finding the problem and providing a solution in less than 4 hours.

That is one hell of a problem! They have two jobs – to find the problem and to find a solution. Finding the problem demands that they look through all the codes to know where the fault is from before trying to solve it which is another hell of a task. Getting a solution is not usually straight forward. It requires a lot of brainstorming. Remember, they are also constrained by time.

This kind of job makes the difference clear between the best programmers and the rest. You would see a margin of 1000:1. This is because it holds a lot of uncertainty. This is the kind of job you want to have. A job that poses very abstract problems everyday. The more problems you are able to solve, the higher you go in your career. This is why you see young folks leading a team and earning lots of money.

It is natural to seek what is easy but what is easy is not respected. You can easily be replaced at any point in time. Do something more difficult and abstract and you will be sure to call the shots.

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