I have been in a sort of introspective mood for past few days, with many things not going as I wanted. Facing some family crises and other issues, has left me pensive and thoughtful. It took me back almost 15 years when I was in a similar situation.
It was the year 2000, when I was at the beginning of my career, doing internship with a multinational company, when the worst happened. The Dot com bubble burst!! From spending lakhs on employee engagement, companies shrunk to barely keeping them aboard. Projects from the United States and other developed economies dried up and hundreds of people were laid off. Amidst all this, came the day when our internship got over and with it came the fear of what will happen. We were told that no new employees were being taken on and since we were good performers, they can offer us a retainer ship which was a kind of contractual agreement. We will be on the rolls of another agency, and that contract can be terminated at any time. The salary offered was barely 10% better than the stipend we were given as interns. There was no security, no insurances and we were to work for peanuts. Gone were the dreams of a high-flying job and overseas trips. It was simply ‘take it or leave it’.
Well, fifteen years down the line, all of that does not look so bad, after all we still had something to hold on to. But, to a barely 20 years old, who had lived a pretty sheltered life, it appeared to be the end of this world. It seemed that my career was over even before it had started.
At such a time, it was my father, who showed me the road to optimism. I still remember his words. Well, the gist was there is light at the end of every tunnel and soon this downturn will be over and market will not remain like this for ever. That it was the nature of economies. There are booms and there are busts. He told me that life will always pose challenges and if you learn to tackle the tough days just like the good days, you will never be down for long.
I was still not fully convinced, but realized that continuing with the retainer-ship meant gaining the much needed experience in the company I loved and also being able to continue to live independently. That was a matter of pride for me then. During that one year, we saw many upheavals but my family’s support and my father’s advice kept me going. And after that one year, I was offered to come on rolls by the same company. Well, eventually I did have my high-flying job, traveled abroad many times, was awarded and appreciated for my work, but I always feel that tough first year has kept me on my toes throughout my career and kept me from becoming complacent when I was getting awards and rewards. That was my moment of optimism. I think of that time whenever I am feeling down and out and it invariably pulls me back up.