Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My first step

I've done it! I've really done it! I've finally taken my first step to further my career in this new land and in a way, my life in Australia actually begins from now.

For a long time, I have been very dissatisfied with being a contractor at just above the entry-level. You see, being a very experienced consultant is a perk on its own because you can charge an obscene premium for that "experience" and that can be way above the salary of a lowly refinery engineer or even the boss of said engineer. I can totally get that but as an almost entry-level contractor on permanent secondment to the client, I neither get the high pay nor the career development and training a junior person is supposed to get–I am plain sick and tired of having to beg for training opportunities! Moreover I do not see the potential to move interstate (or to god-forbid Middle East where opportunities abound) within my engineering firm as a benefit and so the eager-to-root-himself-in-a-new-land mentality in me becomes a further push factor. And don't even get me started on how my blood boils from being under-appreciated for my hard work for it pales in comparison for being treated like a weirdo for being super-efficient in his work.

Lately the discontent simmering just under my skin worsened as Caltex introduced the Refinery Manager's Award where employees get rewarded for outstanding effort. Contractors if they are part of a team are entitled to this award but all other award categories are meant only for employees. It so happened that an ultra-lazy colleague of mine (a Caltex employee) received such an award recently and that pushed me over the edge whilst still scratching my head wondering how the hell did she deserve that. If even a curry-loving woman spending on average 6% of her time (yes, I have been tracking the hours on my spreadsheet–that is only the time when it is audibly-obvious to EVERY ONE that she is not working–there are countless more hours spent M.I.A., off "sick" and surfing the net) on private phone calls could get an award as an employee while a hardworking contractor like me gets zilch, it is time to release that simmering discontent.

A few weeks back my two-year anniversary working at Caltex came and I have been waiting for ages for that day to arrive when I can negotiate with my Caltex boss regarding jumping over with all that work experience. I had that discussion and was pleased that he mentioned that I would be a "strong candidate for many positions" at Caltex. Finally! Some recognition! Coincidentally, an engineer left the company soon after and that was my opportunity to apply for his job and make that switch. As a contractor embedded within the client company, I have the advantage of applying for that position internally. And I just clicked the "Submit" button.

The irony (there is always a catch) is the nature of the position (it pays roughly the same as my current one by the way) I have just applied for. It is the role of a process control engineer–exactly what I was doing for two years before I relocated to Sydney. Am I then pushing myself to go through some sort of regression? Granted that I did not really learn all that I could from my previous position (because of human issues–a micro-managing group lead), it still takes an acquired taste to become a control engineer and I am not totally sure that I have that taste. But this is my perfect opportunity to get through the Caltex door and shouldn't I seize it? I have the exact experience for the role as well as a good recommendation from my Caltex boss–what more can one ask for? Somehow during the interview I must downplay the get-my-foot-in-the-door angle and impress the panel with my fervent love for the role... To complicate matters, my department really needs me now to deliver a project within schedule and if my Caltex boss were selfish, he would not want to recommend (and release) me. Fortunately I think he is not that sort of person but it is a complication nonetheless.

Regardless of the internal and external struggles and difficulties involved in this endeavour, I have just crossed the point of no return and now my intention is out there, vulnerable and open to scrutiny. I will hear from the recruiting team within two weeks–wouldn't it be strange if my Caltex boss were part of the interviewing panel? Well all I can do now is to cross my fingers and start dusting the "How To Ace An Interview" file in my brain. Give me all the luck you've got!


Gabriel said...

Please pick something else. You deserve better.

Kim said...

It is not a matter of better or worse. It is just a starting point and I have to start somewhere and soon -- I don't have unlimited time you know. This relocation to Australia has basically set my career development back for 2 years. It is also harder for a foreigner to prove himself in an Australian company so I better start early. I know this move is not perfect and I know I would have to bear all the negative consequences. Such is life.

Daniel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel said...

Fall in, Report status of job application now!

PS. Gab hints that Controls Engineer sucks, waaaaaaaaaaa! *sniff, sniff*

Kim said...

Nothing from HR yet. I've sent them an email chasing.

Why the response to Gab's comment? I don't quite understand...