Being True To Myself
I’ll be posting twice this week since I wrote down last week’s post but never actually published it! Smh. Sorry!
I am sure you all will breathe a sigh of relief when I finally accept a job offer, seeing as my recent posts have taken inspiration from my current state of unemployment. I’m glad to have you on this journey with me! I’m sure we will learn many lessons together in this season. Whoop!
So this morning I was thinking about some of the job applications I had sent out yesterday, and also some of the things I had planned to do with my time while I apply for jobs. I’d like an Operations Research scientist/analyst role, but specifically one that deals with Optimization. Optimization is a field in applied maths and computer science whereby you are looking for the “best” solution among many possible options. It literally has applications everywhere, from sports to the military, to logistics to energy to healthcare and finance etc. You are answering a similar set of questions, just in different jargon. A few simple examples of some questions the field could answer - how do I choose where to build my warehouses, so that I can reduce transportation costs and improve delivery times? How do I know how many flight tickets to sell and at what price, given that some passengers might not show up? How do I pick the best team in a fantasy football league? How do I pick the best financial instruments for my portfolio, given the risk and rewards inherent in each? etc. In Optimization, you want to maximise a certain benefit or minimise a certain cost, while respecting the constraints you have on your resources. The problems in the field are not trivial, so you find that most people in it have PhDs, some have a masters degree - and that’s the small slice I want to be a part of.
That is a bit about what I want to do, in case anyone was wondering. Majority of the jobs on offer today, even with the Operations Research (OR) title, are roles in Data Science. Statistics is a branch of OR, just one that I am not interested in. It just so happens that data science is all the rage these days so that’s what I am mostly seeing. Even when I tell people what I want to do, they tend to jump to suggest data science roles, because that is what is popular these days. The optimization roles that I am interested in do exist; they are just few and far between - especially without a PhD, or a gazillion years of experience. I suspect the latter issue is the same shared by most job seekers today - companies don’t seem to want to hire a work in progress, but I digress.
This morning, I was thinking really hard and while I reminded myself for the hundredth time, that I really don’t want a role that is mostly data science/machine learning with a slice of optimization, I had to ask if I was being foolish. I thought, maybe I should just practice for machine learning interviews as well. Perhaps I should not hold on so stubbornly to the idea of a role in optimization. I was torn between focusing on what I want to do and shifting to accommodate what businesses seem to want. Then I remembered this line from my Friends Within - your duty is to move in the direction of that which you seek, irrespective of what you fear. It was really encouraging to be reminded that I shouldn’t be redirected or guided by fear. Instead, I have to work towards the kind of job that I want, especially because I know the role exists and does not require me to want to be a data scientist.
There is work for me to do in practicing my optimization skills and expanding them out of the limited classroom context to which I have been exposed. In school, we learn about building a particular model, and then we get a set of data to run it. In real life, you have to think about the data you have available and the model you can build with it. It is a slightly different skillset that I have to practice. So adding the extra burden of trying to build machine learning skills - an area in which I have very little interest - is not going in the direction of that which I desire. It is in fact, reducing the amount of time I have to work on developing more industry-applicable linear programming skills. To do so will be to act out of the fear that I won’t get a job otherwise. But that’s just it. I do not want a job. I want to start building a career in my chosen field.
I have worked in a role that I had to unsuccessfully cajole myself to like. It was terrible, and the whole reason I went back to school to get my masters degree. I wanted to do Operations Research and that is not what I was doing. I have to carry through with my determination to break the cycle of unfulfilling jobs and move on to build my career, no matter how scary the prospect may seem.
The fact is, there is maybe 1 optimization role for every 10 data science roles I see. That is still not a good enough reason to abandon my interests. It’s like people who want to get married. You won’t tell them to marry someone that is clearly not suited to them just because that is the only person that is available. You’d advise them to be patient and continue working on themselves and making the best of their being single. When the person turns up in their lives, they will be in a good place, having spent the time they were single becoming better versions of themselves. In the same vein, I am seeing this time of patience, as a time of preparation. I remember the paradox of patience from a previous post.
When you are truly being patient, it means you are in the process of preparing for that which is to come.
I will use this time to prepare. So that when I finally have that interview with that company that will hire me, I will be ready for it. When I do get the role, I will be better than when I started my job search. It will not be the case that I let my head split in five different places, trying to be everything to every company. It will not be the case that where I could have been becoming more proficient in modelling network optimization programs, for example, I was trying to figure out “LogisticRegression.fit”. It will certainly not be the case that I spend time applying for jobs that I have to convince myself that I like, when I can use the time to seek out the ones that I actually do want. I stress this because it is important for me to convince myself that I am not shying away from those roles because I am being lazy or because I do not want to learn something new. I am not planning to remain stagnant. I just want my growth to be in a certain direction. So I will feel the fear that comes out of seeing mostly data science jobs out there and I will do my optimization preparation anyway.
Furthermore, my very act of preparation for the job I want is a prayer in itself. Why worry when I can pray? An excerpt from that previous post says:
Thus when your aligned thoughts, words and deeds intersect with God's will for you, miracles happen.
Conversely, thoughts of fear, not acted upon are also an act in itself and create results - the results that of which you feared most.
Thus your duty is to conceptualise and hold with your consciousness only that which you want to see manifest.
Your duty is to move in the direction of that which you seek irrespective of what you fear.
This is how you bring into being your true desires.
I don’t need to worry about anything. And I don’t need to pivot out of fear, because at the end of the day if I am able to convince someone that I want a job in which I actually have no interest - I still have to live with the lie myself. There will be no escaping it. Since I have passed the stage of figuring out what I want to do. And I have identified that which I want to do. It won’t be wise of me to ignore it. Instead, I will hold within my consciousness, that which I want to see manifest and move in the direction of that which I seek, irrespective of what I fear. This is how I will bring into being, my true desire for a role as an Optimization analyst. Gbam!
I will keep you all updated. But in the meantime I shall be staying true to myself. I hope that in this way you are encouraged to do the same too. Just remember,
Your duty is to move in the direction of that which you seek, irrespective of what you fear.