8 Lessons In 8 Semesters: Lesson 6

8 Lessons In 8 Semesters

Diarmuid Brady


February 19, 2024

Great people and interesting work makes a job much easier.

💡  What type of people do you work well with?
       When pursuing your goals, do your expectations usually meet reality?
       What are your career priorities and how do they impact your quality of life?

INTRA (INtegrated TRAining) placement was a breath of fresh air after the events of the previous semester. I looked forward to intriguing work and being part of a team. However, I held concerns about the working environment. Growing up, media often depicted a bleak view of the professional world, featuring burnt-out employees, horrible bosses, and draining work, think of Fight Club, Horrible Bosses, or Mad Men.

While I recognised these portrayals were exaggerated for effect, I worried about any underlying truths echoed by anecdotal evidence I had gathered over the years. I wondered, would my manager be a narcissistic, egomaniac!? Would the culture be so competitive and toxic that everyone saw each other as instruments to be used for their gain!? Would the work be so mind-numbing that I would wake up every morning before work thinking, “Oh no, not again!”?

Fortunately, I had worked with the company in a previous internship and any concerns I had proved to be unfounded. People were collaborative rather than competitive. We worked together and helped each other out. I valued the office setting for the spontaneous discussions that wouldn’t have been possible remotely from home. During lunch, engaging conversations with the team ranged from personal experiences to ongoing projects. Post-work meet-ups always had a crowd making it easier to meet people and get to know them better. I had the autonomy to think of ideas and turn them into projects. I made the most of opportunities to present work and practice my public speaking skills.

Management invested time into developing people on the team and shared their expertise without ego. They were humble and listened to the team’s feedback. The company, being a startup that lacked a large hierarchical structure, avoided office politics and popularity contests, at least from what I could observe. Though, through past experiences, I’ve realised that organisational politics is more about the leadership than it is about the company’s size.

All in all, I realised my luck with where I worked. It’s possible that some workplaces may not be like this and that burnt-out employees, horrible bosses, and draining work may exist. Career priorities differ among people but across any public or private sector, any level of business ownership, I believe people and work are a constant and greatly impact your quality of life. Figuring out what people you work well with and what kind of work stimulates and challenges you meaningfully is worthwhile. While I was fortunate to find this in my initial internship, others might need more time. Ultimately, I believe answering these questions can shape your career’s impact on your life quality.

Next week, I’ll delve into hobbies, relaxation, and the genuine value of college. After completing the placement, I returned to my final year with uncertainty around how I wanted to end my time at college—would I continue the pursuit of grades or consider an entirely new approach?