Food For Thought: Job or Career?
|FOOD for THOUGHT – do you slog your guts out for the sake of your ‘rice bowl’?|
Ever wondered what is the stark difference between a Job and Career?
Below is a very detailed comparison to show you the difference between a JOB and a CAREER.
What is it?
Contribution to society
Adapted from http://www.diffen.com/difference/Career_vs_Job
In short, PASSION is the key ingredient present in a career. You enjoy what you are doing and you cannot wait to do more than what is expected of you.
Long, Long Ago…
When I was really small, my parents would educate us to study hard and get the necessary qualifications in order to land ourselves in a decent and stable job. The story ends there (perhaps with the ‘happily ever after’ connotation). It is a societal norm to follow the crowd, get a degree, get a stable job and live on.
However as our society gets more and more educated, our ideology gets more and more complex and we are not easily contented with our regular 9 to 5 jobs.
Instead, we start to talk about our ideals, our aspirations and what we perceive ourselves to be. We want to be unique and not trapped along with the mainstream.
Life as a Fresh Grad
Being taught that graduating with a decent university degree would land myself into a stable job, life was not so when I graduated.
I graduated with a degree in Banking and Finance shortly after the Lehman Brothers collapsed and retrenchment abounded. I was convinced to major in Banking and Finance as my dad commented that working in banks is great as they are a flourishing industry. Life is unpredictable and yes, I sold my 3 years studying a course I didn’t like for the sake of a valuable piece of paper – my education certificate. This piece of paper is still of some use as it decorates my CV but it is as good as toilet paper as I did not get to apply much of what I learnt in university on my job.
Having worked for a local bank during my school holidays was not a great experience either. I disliked the political culture in that particular bank. The colleagues were not helpful, and the supervisor ever hurled blatant insults on an admin staff. Moreover, the staff was doing a lot of OT in order to earn extra income. To me, that was a meaningless and repetitive job with no value at all.
Hence, I graduated from university being deterred to work for banks ever again.
As a very fresh fresh grad, I met with many obstacles in finding a job and I was insulted in interviews as I could not answer the questions thrown by the interviewers with tact – I will share more on my interviewing experience in a separate post.
I am very much of an introvert and hence am unable to express myself in many occasions. I am already improving my communication skills as the years go by and after being educated by my career…
My First Job
As I have mentioned earlier, failure to perform eloquently in interviews have prevented me to get the jobs I interviewed for.
As an introverted individual, I wanted a backend job like accounting, administrative, data analyst sort of role.
However, due to a twist of fate and through a friend referral, I ended up attending an interview with a Insurance Broking Firm. The interviewer, also the COO of the company was very enthusiastic about describing the job scope to me.
The first misconception when one comes across with the term ‘insurance’ would be very much a sales job. Perhaps you guys might have enrolled yourselves eagerly under the “Do Not Call” register already. However, insurance have many facets too. Those who bugs you with the sales calls normally are insurance agents who represent life insurance companies (i.e. AIA, Prudential etc).
Brokers on the other hand, are the intermediary between the client and the insurance companies. The interests of the brokers are towards their clients (aka Insureds). Hence that is the main difference between brokers and agents. Further to that, brokers have unlimited access to the insurance market (i.e. they can source for quotations from all the insurance companies available) whereas agents are tied to 3 designated insurers which they are representing. The insurance industry in Singapore is heavily regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
Anyways, I was really grateful that I was accepted as a fresh grad into that company (after an hour’s interview with the interview blabbering non-stop of the roles etc).
Life as an Insurance Broker
Thank God, once again that I ended up in the insurance industry. Although the industry industry can be deemed as a ‘dirty job’ thanks to the hardworking insurance agents who were trying their best to solicit sales, I find this job a very meaningful one.
Insurance policies actually are a ‘promise’ in a form of an insurance contract to indemnify the Insured (our clients) of an insurable event (i.e. in the event that the clients’ premises get burnt down and they require time to be in operation again; in the event that the Insured’s employees are injured in the course of employment; in the event that the Insured’s employee embezzle funds from the company etc). These ‘promises’ come with a reasonable ‘protection fee’ which we term as ‘premium’ of course. Most of these policies are annually renewable and can be terminated with the Insured’s order. However, some insurance coverages are mandatory by the legislation i.e. Work Injury Compensation and Motor Insurance.
As a broker, I specialise in servicing our corporate clients and helped them arrange their insurance programs to cater to their business needs. Also, as an intermediary between clients and insurers, we are obligated to get the best insurance deal for our valued clients.
The insurance industry is heavily regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and we are required to undergo proper licensing and training on a regular basis in order to be in this profession.
What I LOVE
I love the nature of my job. It is a continuous learning process whereby we have to adapt according to frequent changes to market trends / new legislations – you will never be bored of this job 🙂
Also, this job hones my communication skills as I am compelled to face my clients and liaise with the insurers to get things done. It is a lot of coordination work and it can be rather challenging to work in such a fast-paced environment.
As I dread doing a sales job, and yet do not like to do a pure admin job (I suck at data entry), the role of an insurance broker caters to my needs as I get to interact with others and there is also a fair mixture of administrative component to my job scope as I get to prepare reports, check policies and prepare comparison tables. The job scope offers a good variety of work to be done and it is also challenging as you have to juggle so much work at one shot.
Trust me, all the hard work would have paid off when your client appreciates you and compliments you for your effort 🙂 Also, when I first successfully to negotiate a better term for my client from the Insurer, the amount of job satisfaction gained was immeasurable!
What I Dislike
I would not say that my job is the best out there as there are times when I landed myself on record low as well.
Corporate clients (especially MNCs) are getting more and more demanding and less appreciative. They would demand service quality and prompt responses. It can be stressful managing their expectations and forcing the insurers to compromise on the terms offered as well.
As we are not a non-profit organisation, we operate to reap from our commissions as well. Hence we get pressurised to cross sell different products to our clients in order to hit our budget as well. It is perfectly fine to recommend our clients to take up some insurance covers that are beneficial to their businesses but not to the extent of shoving the policies down their throat and psycho-ing the clients to purchase the covers when they are not necessarily required. If our KPI (Key Performance Index) is based on that, then the system is basically flawed as I was taught that our interest is always towards our clients as a broker from day 1 of my career as a broker. We do face many conflicts of interest in our day-to-day work as brokers as our remuneration may come from the insurers in the form of commission.
In order to maintain my integrity in the long run, I have decided to join an Insurance company as an Insurer instead so as to avoid such conflicting interests between earning more commission and compromising our clients’ interest in the process.
Life as an Insurer
I am already 2 months in my new role (my 4th company since graduation) and I can feel the change already! I have joined an Insurance company as a key account manager responsible to support and grow the portfolio of insurance agents assigned under my care.
In the past, I used to bug insurers to provide me their best terms.. It seems that things have felt so different once I have went to the other side..
I was constantly being bugged by my insurance agents for advice and quotes. My inbox is constantly flooded by their email requests and what nots.. It took me like a couple of weeks in order to adapt to this change. Thank God I adapted well as a regular job hopper *LOL*
What I LOVE
My admin work is reduced by a lot. In the past, my desk was messed up with a lot of policy documents which require detailed checking.. Now, we have gone paperless!
The tight schedules and deadlines were reduced as I do not need to remember the policy expiration dates and track them diligently.
Gone were the days where I have to go ‘shopping’ in the market for alternative quotes and doing up mega Excel spreadsheets to compare the premiums, claims stats etc. It can be really tiring especially when you are bogged with all the mundane servicing activities and have to do remarketing on top of them.
I still get to hone my communication skills like in the past, just that my clients have became insurance agents now. I still get to do my coordination work with the backend staff for policy processing etc. The same skill set can still be applied here 🙂
This job offers me with a lot of flexibility. In fact, this job is 30% knowledge and 70% problem solving. The problems faced are unpredictable and you get to rack your brains on how to troubleshoot them within the shortest time available. The working environment is desirable as minimal micromanaging is present in my team. We work rather independently managing our own portfolio of agents and we only go to our superiors when faced with difficulties. This is something I will never enjoy in my previous company and hence I really do cherish the opportunity to breathe the fresh air of freedom *LOL*
Further to that, I still do get my job satisfaction as my agents do appreciate my hard work and did not create much trouble for me *fingers crossed*
The downside of this job is that it is very fast-paced. As a perfectionist, I hate to see my inbox flooded with many unread mails and I will try my best to clear them whenever I can ASAP. This was a great challenge to me during my first month as I was unfamiliar with many things and the email requests were swarming in like some form of plague.
As I familiarised myself with the systems and organisational structure, attending to general requests is a breeze and I manage to have more time to breathe and more time to attend to more complex issues as well.
In conclusion, there are pros and cons in whatever jobs we are in. I would not say that I have found a career in any given company as of yet, but I am happy to be working in the insurance industry as I get to learn many new things at different stages. My passion is fuelled with my curiosity and desire to learn things that are of interest to me and to be of value to the organisation during my tenure there.
Most importantly, you must enjoy what you are doing and not working for the sake of working in order to make it your career.
I will talk about the tell-tale signs on how to tell if your current job is NOT for you and share with you on my interview tips in a separate post.
Stay tuned to my career series and I really do hope you can get a career which is satisfactory to you soon 🙂