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Listing #636 by iBlog on 13/09/2020
Advice from a Kenyan-Born Millennial in the US: Why I’m No Longer Ashamed of My Frequent Job Changes and Why You Shouldn’t Be Either!
There is a lot of literature out there regarding millennials, some scientific and others not. Some researched and others, like mine, are just personal opinions. The good things about opinions is that everyone has one and they are entitled to them, but how much the opinion stinks depends on the nose bearer.
A good friend of mine called me today as he was preparing for an interview. One of his primary concerns was, “what are they going to think about me wanting to leave my job after only 2.5 years?!” That got me thinking about what my resume looks like – when did I stop caring what it looks like?
Welcome to America!
I am about to hit my 15-year mark since I came to this beautiful country. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I found myself in Buffalo, NY, in the winter. I was cold, I had no friends, very little money, but what I did have was a thirst for what the future promised. I wanted to be a lawyer; it’s all I ever wanted. Well, if I’m telling the truth, that was what I wanted before I realized that being the president of Kenya was not really something I had the desire for. But, even with this thirst in a beautiful country, living in Buffalo was hard. (Another story of its own!) So hard that every time I think things are rough, I just think of those poor people in Buffalo.
There is one good thing that came out of my time spent in Buffalo – I realized I did not want to be a lawyer. I know, I just told you this is all I ever wanted, but late at night when I was in deep thought trying to figure out what to eat the next day, I’d watch the never-ending Keller and Keller infomercials. (To this day, I still wonder if I have mesothelioma.) So, thanks to their infomercials I also realized I didn’t have the desire to be a lawyer. So, I found myself with a dead president and a dead lawyer dream and this only meant one thing – I now had to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
No Dream & Confusing Towns
So, off to Ocean City I went!
By the way, why do we use the same name for different towns in different states? This is very confusing even now let alone when I was only 6 months in this country. Next time you see me, ask me how I found myself in Maryland after an 18-hour bus ride, only to find out I was supposed to be in NJ! Again, another story for another day!
I found myself a nice job and a nice boss. I originally had only intended to be in Ocean City for 3 months and 1 ½ years later I was still there. That is until one day my boss – the boss that taught me American football – fired me. His reason, “you need to do something better with your life.” So yet again, I found myself not knowing what to do with my life.
I came to America with a thirst for the promises of my future, and somehow, I found myself in Columbus, OH learning how to drive a truck. I drove over the road for a few years, and while I am not a believer of coincidences, this is when I learned about supply chain. Truck driving to date remains to be the most difficult job I have ever done. Through that process, I knew what I wanted to do when I went back to school. Then, my first job out of school further opened my eyes to supply chain management. I wanted to know it all! This also meant doing it all. So, after coming to this beautiful country with big dreams that were crossed off of the list, one by one, I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.
In the process, I have worked any job you can think of in a manufacturing and distribution setting. Every job came with its own challenges and every single one of them better prepared me for the next one. Outside of wanting to know everything, there have been other key factors that have contributed to my job changes:
I like to choose who I work for. A good relationship with my boss is paramount to me. If I am going to work for someone for 8 hours a day, we better get along and get along does not mean being friends. As an ENFJ that values autonomy, the worst kind of a boss I can ever have is a micromanager. The good thing is that these types of bosses are easy to point out, and hence easy to leave, or to say thanks but no thanks
My first job out of college was what you would expect as a new graduate. Three years into it and after a promotion, I found myself doing the math of how many diapers my son was going through a day. I realized if I was going to be the provider, I needed to make more money! So, I did what every good negotiator does, I had my data ready to present to my boss and show him why I needed a little more money. The data told me more than I had thought. I realized that I can slave away, get an annual raise, and if I am lucky get a promotion here and there, but it was going to take more than 15 years to get to “good money land”. So, while my boss did everything he could and got me more than thought possible, I had already done my market research and I opted to take my chances with the market. Best decision I could have made.
I am a problem solver naturally. That means a stable, 100-year-old process that is a cash cow with little to no possibility of improving efficiency is not where I want to be. I like to go to unchartered territories. Especially if other people are running away. Some of these problems can take 6 months to solve or maybe, one to two years. Regardless of the time, I better have something lined up or else I am bored, and when I am bored my mind wonders: “what would it be like to live in Hazardville, CT. The next thing you know, I am in Hazardville.
Sometimes you get an unexpected call. On the other end is a good recruiter/hiring manager. So good in fact they manage to convince you that Hazardville, CT is not where you want to be but rather you need to be in Accident, MD. You visit Accident and realize it is slightly better than Buffalo and anything better than Buffalo can work and you find yourself there.
I really enjoy supply chain. More so now that I feel like I have a slight idea of what I am doing. I am never the subject matter expert in most things supply chain but from Materials, Planning, Purchasing, Sourcing, Transportation to Finance and IT – I can walk into any of those rooms and bring something to the table. That is one of the biggest advantages to what other people may perceive as a weakness on the resume. As a manager, I take it upon myself to keep my people inspired. Retention however goes beyond being inspired and it is not a one size fits all.
What we bring to the table as millennials is experience outside of your companies four walls. What makes me successful today is because most of the problems I face on a day today basis, I have seen them somewhere else.
My advice to my friend earlier was for him to go in with her head held high and be proud of the achievements she has had in those two years.
By David Wairimu. The author is a Supply Chain Logistics Manager for US and Asia at Watlow.