In the lab I got assigned a project that no one wanted.
The data is messy, there is no clear goal and I literally heard sighs of relief from those who passed it on to me.
Truth is, this is very common when you start any job, in industry or research. The new colleague gets the projects that others left out. It, however, doesn’t have to stay that way. Here’s how you can get projects you’re interested in, in any working environment.
- Start anywhere in the company.
- Get good and fast at it. It might take year, but you’ll start to have extra time.
- Create new projects that are interesting to you on the side. Those they never have budget for, but that everyone says it should be done. Do these on your extra time.
- Get known for that, prove its value, and then negotiate to have it as official position
This works especially when you’re ahead of trend or if you’re talented for less well-defined positions such as networking or advising or brainstorming.
For example, right now companies are not yet ready to make full use of big data. You can get in, do any job related to data or finance or marketing, whatever. Take a year to get good at it, then start initiating big data projects on the side. When the time comes you can transfer internally to the new position.
It’s called “work your way sideways”. It’s a honest strategy because you will only have the energy to blaze the trail for jobs you are good at. People have done this forever to get to create positions for themselves. Google famously made this official by giving their employees 20% time for their own projects.
Above all, you can stop putting pressure on your job hunt. It doesn’t have to have the perfect job title. Pick a place you can see yourself evolve in, and create your path afterwards.
And that’s why I’m working on Easter Monday. I’m pitching the professor with new ideas this week, and secretly hoping to get a few shortcuts from the list.