The first day at a new workplace is always nerve-wrecking. Sat alone at your desk everything around you is foreign. Everyone in the department is friendly, yet their expertise and experience mean that the lone intern is a nervous sponge. You wonder what you can do, can touch, and what is expected throughout the months. Plus it does not help that you had arrived on Saturday for an internship on Monday, and jetlag resulted in a sleepless night before.
It was the same when I started at The Learning Lab. Today when I head back for an office visit my former colleagues gladly tease me about my initial apprehension and reticence.
Of course there is only excitement if you enter a field you enjoy. I am, on the other hand, confused. I have no clue of what the future holds, no career aspirations, and no idea what to do (imagine the looks of consternation on my peers when I said “I am just here to try it out”). Unlike these go-getters I never saw myself in a bank. I just went with the flow. I stumbled into the business school. Took finance modules in Helsinki. Applied for the internship. And when you approach a job with such apprehension it will be awkward and tough.
The unexpected sit-down with the boss was quite something. When he shows trust and faith in you… That is really something. I think it was quite obvious that I was struggling to keep up with the financial jargon and acronyms when he gave me an overview of the bank, the department, and different financial services (also a painful reminder that an academic study of finance can count for little in the real world), so he slowed down and scribbled notes as I jotted stuff. He could have left me alone with administrative duties, yet he told me about the three month programme he had planned. “Whether you decide to join banking or not is not important”, he concluded. “Above all you must gain something, learn how the bank operates”.
It made me guilty. Silly Jin Yao, forever taking things for granted.
I cannot remember much about the final interview, except that I had to wake up at three in Helsinki to prepare for the 3.30 Skype interview (Singapore time 9.30). One day I will ask him why he chose me, despite never alluding to an interest in finance. Not now though.
With the uncertainty one gravitates towards the familiar. Once I stepped out of the office I typed furiously on the phone. I knocked off at 6.30 – an hour after the stipulated time on my contract – but I left ever so tentatively because the boss and half the department were still around. Only my coordinator knew of my arrangements, and she had already headed home.
Thank goodness for the public holiday tomorrow. A chance to ctrl-alt-del.