The Gratitude Challenge’s fifteenth topic is “Work”.
“Wow, this sounds really boring”.
This was the response I got when I recently told an acquaintance about my work. I laughed because that was a refreshingly honest response. Nevertheless, I’m in the lucky situation to find my work really interesting. Since it is difficult to explain what an IT security consultant does to non-IT people, I usually just say that I’m “hunting hackers”, or that I’m “protecting companies from hackers”.
For me personally I cannot imagine many other IT jobs that are more varied and with more purpose than mine. Of course, there are aspects that I think could be improved – sometimes I feel more like a Linux administrator (no offense, just not what I signed up for) than an IT security consultant, sometimes I wished I could use a bit more of my non-technical creativity – but overall it’s a great field to be in. My company actively encourages and supports to constantly learn, I have free access to huge repositories of books, online courses, and great certifications. Not to mention the inspiration that comes from being surrounded by bright colleagues who are so much better in specific aspects and from whom I can learn so much everyday. I like to present in front of people and to give advice; working at the intersection between technology and humans is something I really enjoy, because I can bring in both my interpersonal skills, as well as my technical experience.
My manager actively supports me in my career path and enables me to work from another continent even though this is really not standard for a consultant position. Pre-Covid I took an airplane at least twice a week, spent my days in client offices and my nights in business hotels. Airlines, taxi apps and hotels have created sophisticated reward systems that make frequent travellers believe that there is a lot of meaning in going back and forth, sweetening it with exclusive access to lobbies and free buffets, giving out goodies and providing personalized services, and just like in a computer game, wanting you to “level up” to the next status tier. All you have to do is to travel and fly more. While you are in this system it all feels really nice and purposeful. In hindsight it is somewhat sickening to realize that exactly the same kind of job can be done fully remotely, without leaving my home office even once. I do like business trips, but if I had to choose my old “at the airport several times a week” life versus my current “no business travel at all”, I’d choose the latter without hesitation. As I’m now completely location independent, I can anyway travel and work from wherever I want to be.
I’m definitely one of the lucky people who benefited from the pandemic in the sense that it enabled me to switch my job to a completely remote position. I would hope that if anything, the world learnt that excessive business travel – flying around the globe for a two-hour meeting before heading back – is not necessary and downright ridiculous. I do expect things to swing slightly back to more in-person business and I think in certain areas like sales and also consulting it has its place. But both the health of the planet and of the travellers themselves would eventually gain a lot from a reduced amount of business trips. I do understand that for some people’s inflated ego it’s really soothing to feel important enough to be wanted here and there (having been in that system myself I can relate), but maybe we could all learn to slow down a bit and understand that our self-worth is really not dependant on how much we are sent around this world for seemingly pressing issues.
I’m grateful for having a job that allows me to learn everyday, with great colleagues, lots of freedom and autonomy with minimal supervision, interesting projects and economic stability and safety.