sI am bringing you the long awaited story of one curious Veronika and 100 people who were willing to answer the questionnaire consisting of 6 questions related to dream job, career, education and satisfaction. Call it as you wish, but for me it was 100 life stories.
Since it has been one of the largest projects that I have ever conducted, I suppose I should tell you how it all began. When I asked one friend to participate in the study, he told me “OK, I will participate, but first tell me why you are doing this”. And so, I told him.
“I am doing this research because I felt frustrated that I had experience, ideas, curiosity and passion, but employers were not interested in hiring me. I was applying to tens of positions without any luck. So I was thinking a lot about my studies. How useful or not useful it was. What I could have done better. These thoughts. Basically generation Y worries. Now, I am quite fine. I will have a new job and I am doing things I like aside, but through conversations with colleagues I found out that majority of people feel unfulfilled by their job. I am thinking of ways how it could be solved or how we could be helped. That is why.”
Accenture is a melting pot of diverse professions, backgrounds, aspirations, dreams and realities. The people are its best asset and I have always felt like Alice in Wonderland there. Fascination and frustration combined. From a methodological point of view (which nobody cares about), the sample cannot be generalized to society, rather I wanted it to reflect the Millenials. People who participated were different in nationality (30% Czech and 70% foreigners), in education (91% had university degree and 9% did not), and in age (mostly in their 20’s and 30’s). Well, enough of explaining, let us see the results now.
What is your dream job, what career would you like to pursue?
A question we often keep asking ourselves our whole life. Well, whether it was a pilot, a writer, an owner of restaurant, a CEO, an art therapist, hotelier, a teacher, a designer, a yoga instructor, a project manager or a rentier, what actually interested me more was whether people knew what their dream job is. It turned out that 74% of people know what their dream job is, while 26% do not know. The fact that people do not know actually does not mean anything bad. Sometimes they do not consider job as something significant in their life and are more concerned about the environment, team spirit and purpose of work. Moreover, people change and so do dreams. Some people like to stick to their childhood dreams, while others adapt to changes in the path and go for a different dream job later on.
Intermezzo – Are you doing your dream job now?
I did not ask this question directly, but since I knew what position people had and what their dream job was, I could deduce the answer. In total 73% of people are not doing their dream job now, while 17% are. As for the remaining 10%, I could not include them in any category. The misbalance is shocking, but I must admit that I expected to get a similar number. Why more than 70% are not doing a job they want? Is it our own fault, a fault of the job market, a fault of the university, a fault of everyone and no-one, no fault at all?
Why are you not doing your dream job now?
I think this is where it gets captivating and down-to-earth. So, let us see a percentage breakdown of reasons why people are not doing something they want. Unlike the above yes-no questions, I only counted the percentage of most repeated questions.
- I do not have enough work experience (27%).
- There are limited positions in the area (10%).
- I have a feeling that it is “too late now” to change my career track (7%).
- I need money to start my own thing (7%).
- I tried applying but it is hard to be accepted (corruption, protection) (6%).
- It is only a matter of time till I get there (6%).
- The dream job is not important for me (5%).
- It is due to economic situation in my country (5%).
- I would have low salary in my dream job (5%).
- I have a lack of motivation, self-confidence and am worried about change (4%).
- I am a foreigner and it is hard to get a dream job abroad (3%).
- I want to get experience in a different field than my dream job (3%).
- My education is not sufficient for the job (3%).
Statements like “You just need to want. Everything is possible. Sky is the limit.” are inspiring but misleading. People have objective reasons why they cannot do something they like (of course this is not true for whole life). The absolute winner is lack of experience. I think the reason why people do not have work experience is because university does not prepare them for real life. Other factors such as economical situation in Southern Europe, searching for a job as a foreigner in CZ, need of investment, insufficient education and harsh competition in certain companies are also valid reasons. Others are more subjective, but everyone judges their situation best. To my knowledge many people do what they like in their free time hoping that they will soon do it professionally. After all, we all have to start with baby steps.
Why did you join Accenture?
And so when we are baby stepping, let us look at the train station where we all met. Accenture. Why? Because:
- I wanted to gain work experience (29%).
- The company is a good employer with career opportunities (23%).
- I was compelled by the international environment in the company (17%).
- The company will shine on my CV (15%).
- I wanted to change my career track and Accenture enables that (10%).
- I wanted to live in Prague (10%).
- I was curious to work in a corporation (9%).
- I wanted to use foreign languages in my job (9%).
- A friend referred me (8%).
- I was enchanted by the HR approach (6%).
- I wanted to earn money (5%).
- They hired me (4%).
- I found a job in a city where my partner lives (3%).
I was too prejudiced to think that people work in this company due to lack of experience or because they studied for this type of job, but again it is not black and white. The company hires loads of recent graduates, but the same graduates send their CV’s there. So, that’s a deal, right? We all get something. There might be businesses which are career-starters, continuers and enders. And maybe there is nothing wrong about it. Since a majority of people complained about lack of experience and joined to gain experience, we will now take a magnifying glass and see education closely.
Let’s go back to school and see what could have been better
Overall 91% graduated from university, while 9% finished high school. As per the answers, 54% people do what they studied and 46% do something else. This is something we should look into. Why do almost half of us spend 3-5 years studying something we will not do? Out of pure interest, broadening horizons and meeting people? I doubt that. I think we want to do what we study, but there is something faulty with the education system. So, what did you hate in the university?
- It emphasized theory and memorizing than gaining practical experience (31%).
- I disliked attending useless courses (18%).
- I hated exams (cramming and forgetting knowledge instead of using it) (13%).
- I did not like some of the (bad, boring, careless) teachers (11%).
- I felt there was too much stress and pressure (5%).
- I felt abandoned after the university (3%).
- There was a lack of creativity (3%).
- I did not like writing the thesis (3%).
We can see a direct correlation between a lack of practical experience from university, not being able to get a dream job because of lack of practical experience and getting just any job to get practical experience. Studying too much theory, attending useless courses and cramming stuff we will forget make 62%. Huge dissatisfaction, right? We should protest and seriously change universities.
Were you too young to choose?
Overall, 56% people were clear about choice of degree, while 44% had no idea. Most of us decide to go to university when we are 18. As one clever man said, “It is a pity that we decide about our whole life in the age where the most important thing for us is the parting in our hair”. Luckily, we are not enslaved to do something we studied and companies are flexible to take in people with various backgrounds, but would it not help to make a conscious decision at right time? Or are we too young? Can young people be helped in the martyrdom of endless choices? Career counseling, gap years, practical insights? Many questions for future studies, but let’s get it done now.
Are you overall satisfied with what you chose?
This has been the most fascinating outcome of the whole study. While I could hear complaints in the workplace every day, 76% are satisfied with the choice they made, while 22% are relatively satisfied and 2% are not. Even though the question was initially only meant to reflect satisfaction over choice of study, absolute majority of people reflected an overall satisfaction with their education, job and life so far in general. Quite to my surprise, despite the fact that 73% people are not doing their dream job, all in all 76% people are satisfied. This got me into thinking. Either people were not honest with me, or the job/work/career is actually not determinant of our happiness in life (which is something that the society wants us believe).
I craved for statistics, but eventually found out that process of interviewing people and peeking into their lives was more enriching. Let me conclude my article with a few last words.
- Over the course of several decades the notion of job has been significantly changing from bread-winner to a porter of meaning and fulfillment in life. If you see Ngram Viewer on Google Books and search for “dream job”, you will find out that it has become trendy to speak about it since the 1980’s and reached its peak in the 2000’s. It’s just a catchphrase. Let us not worry whether we know it or not, whether we have it or not.
- The picture is bright and shows how simplistic it is to generalize. In a way we are all same, but in a way we are all different. Even if we try to find ways to make decision-making easier, there is not a single path which would make us all happy and fulfilled. Life would be boring, I guess, if we had such easy solutions. I learnt that there are no right or wrong paths, just paths, hundreds of them.
- Even though some people are actually doing their dream job, they do not go about shouting “I am so happy with what I have now and I do not need to grow, develop…”. People are never fully satisfied (Horatius said “Nibilest ab omni parte beatum/Nothing is good from every part.“), but on the other hand, this leads to constant development. Had we been satisfied living in the caves and eating raw meat, we would have never been sitting in airplanes and writing stories on computers as I am doing now. So, there are always two sides to everything.
- On a happy note, I think we can all be (more or less) satisfied in any job and in any situation if we take an appropriate approach towards it. When we fervently cling on to something we had dreamt of in the past (me becoming a VET), it will haunt us forever as something unfulfilled, but if we accept the change in the path and adapt to it, we may eventually find out it was only good for us. As Eisenhower said, “Planning is essential, but plans are useless”. Let’s get rid of prejudices, go new paths, be flexible and accepting. Happiness resides in us.
So, this is it. These is the written outcome of what 100 Accenturers told me in the winter months of 2017. Last words in the darkness of night and maybe a beginning of something new for me, since this was a big portion of food for thought. Thank you everyone who made it happen. I hope you enjoyed the read. 🙂
© Veronika Gregusova (pinklich.wordpress.com), 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material without express and written permission from this site’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.