I was 15 years old. Careers day. One by one we were called into a meeting with our respective career advisors to discuss our future goals. I recall my peers were slightly apprehensive – feeling almost embarrassed that they had no idea of what industry/profession they wanted to get into after schooling. Not me though. I was that that student who “knew” exactly what he wanted to go into.
“I want to be a trader at an Investment Bank”, I said confidently to the careers advisor, who happened to be my form tutor also. “I’m going to finish my GCSE’s, study maths related A-Levels, read Mathematics at university and then apply for a job at a top bank”, I told her. She was initially taken back by the clarity at which I had laid out my aspirations and then by the fact that I was aware of what an Investment Bank was at that young age! Not me though, I had this planned all out.
We continued talking for an hour or so as she tried to gauge my interests, aspirations and motivations. I outlined my numerous interests – including my tutoring business I had just set up at the time. As she wrapped up the meeting she said the following “Ijaz, you are unemployable”.
I remember being sat on the bus home that day – asking myself why she would say such a thing to me of all people. “I was a top student and studied super hard all the time – of course I can get the job I want”, I told myself. Why would she doubt me? After a few days, I brashly shrugged the comment off as just another doubter in my way.
Fast forward 5 years and I was now a Mathematics graduate from a world leading university sitting at a trading desk of one of the world’s leading Investment Banks. I had made it – I was exactly where I had proclaimed I would be five years prior. But why then was I so unhappy?
My creativity and ambitions were being ring-fenced. I often found myself bored and unnecessarily uncooperative. From a young ambitious student full of dreams, I now found myself struggling to get myself out of bed in the morning. What went wrong?
I battled with myself. I was in a position that so many would die for – was I being ungrateful? Should I just pent up my feelings, grit my teeth and get on with it?
I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the problem was. Then, as I went for a run one late night, it came back to me – the words from my tutor 5 years prior. She was right all along, I am unemployable…