When I was just a little kid I preached how I wanted to become a veterinarian. This was my life’s purpose in elementary school. In my country (the Netherlands), we have a school system that after elementary school puts you in a sort of level based on how smart you are. The levels are: vmbo (preparatory middle-level vocational education, basically the lowest level), havo (higher general continued education, one step higher), vwo (pre-university secondary education, the highest level). Thanks to Wikipedia for the translations.
There was mavo (middle general continued education, between vmbo and havo), but that’s melted with vmbo now.
How do they decide your smarts? Well by observing you for one year of your life and by having you take a test on pretty much all you’re ever taught so far. Actually they should to give advice based on the test primarily. With me it went something like this:
The test revealed a havo/vwo level (first classes in secondary education are often mixed like that). Holy freaking wow I may actually be smart?! This was what my teacher told me and my parents: I’m giving advice for mavo/havo and maybe when she finds her place she could do havo.
Basically potentially I could maybe be smart, but for now lets send you down the latter. It apparently happens a lot.
To get to the point, you need vwo to become a vet. There goes all my hopes and dreams for the future. Well not really, you can climb up in levels, it just takes longer.
So fast forward a year. At the end of my mavo/havo year my teachers determined I could easily do havo. (you could have guessed…)
What happened? 1) I learn slow, 2) I’m an introvert. Basically I don’t live up to my potential most of the time. On top of this was the bullying I faced all the way through elementary school, which made me withdrawn even more. I got bullied in high school too, but I grew a backbone.
So I continued in havo. My dreams of ever being a vet being thrown out the window, I wasn’t really that interested in it anymore. Apparently… because in my third year of high school one of my teachers said, if you would actually work these coming 5 weeks, you could do vwo. That’s right, get off your lazy butt, work for just 5 weeks (last weeks of the year) and you can get just one step closer to being a vet.
But I didn’t. I got average grades without effort and I wasn’t very interested in making an effort.
At one point in high school you need to pick a package of subjects you wanna follow and some extra free to pick classes. You need a basic set of points really. There are 4 packages. (oh and languages are always in it. We learn Dutch, English, French and German). They try to fit with what you wanna do with your life, or more often, which subjects you like best. I like biology, that’s only in 2 packages, I like computers, well that’s in none. I like chemistry. Okay that’s 1 package. I took computer science on the side, which opted for being retarded and involved classes like Microsoft Word. I was computer savvy, liked them and wanted to know more, not get repeated what I already know. Well the Photoshop project was fun. Anyway I had no outlook on life. I would see it when I got there.
In my fourth year, the second last, I visited a study event with my mom. Basically lots of stands from higher educations trying to lure you into picking their school. It was a search for, what in the world am I going to do after high school. We looked at options that involved animals, but that was basically only taking care of cattle and the like on a vmbo level. I’ll pass for that. Mom asked me what else I liked. Well eh, computers?
You see where this is going right? I got highly involved in getting a computer education. Computer science. I settled on a programming education. To this day I don’t know why, but I think the robots lured me in. First I went for the technical, because I couldn’t pick and this would allow me to easily switch. Besides the projects the education was similar for the first year.
The first point of doubt came at the end of my first year, the project that came up for the last part of the year was programming a washing machine. So I switched right there and then to the not technical level. That project involved making a card game. Hooray! So we ended up with a working card game (something like black jack).
The second point of doubt came during my first internship. This was my third year out of four. In my internship I was programming 40 hours a week. I did not last. I hated it. But was I going to drop out, or switch just before the finish line? Then there was half a year to either spread out, or deepen. Basically picking something to do for half a year. I decided to do psychology, because I loved (and love) reading about it. It was probably the best half-year I had in a long while. Still it was practical psychology, so less of the stuff I read about, more of the handling conflicts, giving advice and what not. But it was much better than programming! (funny enough, most of my fellow students were actually in a programming education, because they thought this was a quick win).
I clearly remember that at the end of my last internship, that you write an essay about and is pretty much the end of your education, I sat down with my supervisor for a final evaluation.
The conversation went something like this:
Supervisor: You delivered less than you could have potentially. I miss your drive and motivation, so unfortunately I can’t offer you a contract to come work with us.
Me: Oh that’s okay, I miss my motivation as well and didn’t really want to work here either.
That’s to say that besides my work, the workplace and people were to this day the best I have worked at/with. (though let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to work in a castle!)
So after graduation the whole world was in front of me, and I had this paper for something I absolutely didn’t want to do. I was sick about education in general, didn’t know what else to study. Mom talked me out of psychology simply by asking me what my profession would be. Well reading all day about psychology isn’t really a profession. Instead I posted my CV on one of those job sites and in the comments clearly mentioned I didn’t want to program. I got approached for working in Business Intelligence, and I went with it.
Fast forward almost 4 years and I’m sitting here typing this up. My official job title is Business Intelligence Consultant, I work for a company that puts me with a client to work for that client. My current client puts my job as Application Maintenance. Sure it’s maintenance on a BI application, well part of it really.
What do I do? I solve problems with the application, and make changes or new software. No I’m not programming, I use an application that does that for me.
Am I happy? Depends on what day you ask.
And that’s the basis of this blog. What really is my passion? How do I get to making it my job? I want to share my experiences as I try to answer these questions.
Do you know what your passion is? Is it your job? Share your story in the comments below! Also don’t hesitate to ask any questions. I’d love to hear from you.