2018: Year in Review
This is a story about my career path in 2018 with conclusions I derived out of several interesting projects I was working on. Each chapter consists of a short story followed by “What I’ve learned” section.
Enrolling a master course for all the wrong reasons
I earned my political sciences BA in 2011. I realized too late I am not the person which easily adapts to stubborn and cruel systems, be it a state administration or a corporative environment. The first job I landed was in an art gallery in Belgrade, in 2010. Back then, the emerging Serbian economy had its forte in the information and communications technology industry. The famous ICT sector. In 2012, I became a part of the ICT bubble, and my marketing/communications journey started right then and there.
So today, the job title which describes best what I do is a Communications Specialist with expertise in information technology sector.
Strangely enough, moving from political sciences, to an art gallery and later on to the ICT sector, I never asked myself do I actually have a goal, or am I just taking whatever life throws at me. It turned out I tend to think of an idea, and try to make something out of it, out of the blue. That is how I decided to enroll in a cultural management master course at the University of Arts in Belgrade six years after I got my BA.
After I read the curriculum of the course, I realized it is possible to get a diploma from the University of Lyon at the same time. I saw this as an opportunity to practice French and to acquire some practical knowledge which can help me with my ongoing efforts in the Serbian IT community Heapspace.
I don’t want to drag you through this very unpleasant experience, but I managed to pass all the exams in one year, to write the thesis in two months (?!) and to defend it beginning of November 2018.
What I’ve learned?
This particular master course did not give me any practical knowledge whatsoever.
It’s possible to pass exams without reading a single page of a printed book. Thanks Internet, you are a time saver.
The mindset of the majority of Academy members is untouched by the modern world of today in every sense imaginable.
Quitting the best job I ever had
Here I had strong personal reasons, I had to go. But I also had master course obligations creeping in and I decided to let go of the full-time job. Quitting the job you love and people you enjoy working with, feels like treason.
At the same time I got offered to work half-time for an IT company in Zagreb, Croatia. Due to (media fabricated) animosity between Serbs and Croats, this job seemed even more challenging. Forbidden fruit symbolism and an opportunity to test my family’s tolerance towards my liberal views.
So I ran towards the new opportunity.
What I’ve learned
Be grateful when you realize you are a part of a great bunch of people at work. These occasions are very rare.
When an opportunity for a new job adventure pops up, don’t think “What if it doesn’t work, what if I make a bad decision?” Who knows how many bad decisions you’ve already made and the world did not come to an end. I’d always risk.
Switching from full-time in the office to half-time working from home
After the first big tech conference I organized with Heapspace crew in 2015, I said goodbye to fixed working hours. Since then, most of the time I juggled with a full-time job and the work I did for Heapspace.
Year of 2018 was my attempt of slowing down.
Moving from a full-time to a half-time job, finishing the master course I enrolled and organizing the fourth installment of the tech conference with Heapspace did not seem like slowing down. And I took another project during summer involving me speaking French almost on daily basis. I took French classes as well.
I went back and forth from Belgrade to Zagreb, at least once per month, staying there for five days. I counted 16 travels to Zagreb from January to December of 2018.
What I’ve learned?
I don’t know how to say “no” to interesting projects. And it’s not about money.
Working remotely gives you a lot of freedom if you are disciplined. If you tend to be lazy if given an occasion, it is not for you. Routine is obligatory!
Multitasking is evil. It ruins every attempt to focus, and it does it long term. You think it saves time, but on the contrary, it leaves job half done or even worse, mediocre.
Context switching is tiring. If you work on several projects at the same time try to divide your working hours and dedicate one portion of it to one project.
You’ve read this a thousand times, but disabling all notifications during your working hours will help you be more productive. This includes both your phone and desktop notifications.
I travelled a lot.
Excluding business travels to Zagreb, my first holiday in 2018 was planned for late May. We were supposed to go to France and stay over at my friend’s family house in St. Gervais, in Vendée region. I’ve never seen the ocean before, and I was hectic to take long car rides first from Paris to Nantes and throughout the region.
During summer, I went to Graz for a quick visit, also by car, from Zagreb. This is when I discovered I love funiculars, thanks to my fascinated-by-machines companion.
Mid September — my first trip to Scandinavia. I went to Oslo. I did not know what to expect, except the cold and tall blond beautiful people, but it turned out my expectations were entirely wrong. I had a chance to visit JavaZone, one of the most prominent technology events in Europe and I was amazed by the high number of electric cars in the streets.
Beginning of October, I went for the first time to Slovenia. This was a well-deserved holiday, just after I sent my final and approved version of the master thesis. We were staying at Bohinjska Bela, a small village near Bled. After exploring Bohinj, Vogel, Postojna cave, Kranj, Ljubljana, and several other places, I fell in love with Slovenia.
Mid November, I went to Bucarest, to attend a five-day workshop organized by the French Institute network. This visit was not a touristic one, so I didn’t have time to explore the city, but people there struck me as very unpleasant and cold.
What I’ve learned
When you decide to travel with friends, you should be ready to make compromises on everything, even on your daily routines.
I don’t like hotels, I feel like I am trapped in a borrowed house, where ghosts are changing towels and sheets every day.
Travelling alone is not my cup of tea.
My biggest finding in 2018: Being honest and rational is not what most of the people find appealing
If you’d ask other people what do they value most, they are prone to say “honesty”. I found not only that people are unable to speak their mind openly, but they are experiencing a rush of emotions when confronted with a person who speaks its mind. If they decide to share what they think, they do it mostly via emails or text messages. Missing a bit of courage here, right?
I also found it is quite tricky to work with friends. When at work, they expect from you to be emotional and emphatic at all times. Being rational is viewed as emotionless. It is often disregarded, if you are able to derive rational conclusions from an emotionally charged event.
Well, that’s about it! Thanks for reading this whole piece.
Let me know you thoughts in comments!