I had reached the low point of my (admittedly, not even really started) career in industrial engineering. On Sunday I was afraid of Monday, on Friday I made five crosses in the calendar in relief and on Saturday I tried not to think about the coming week. Then I got a call that was going to turn my life around 180 degrees.
Working for a Conglomerate
In mid-2016, I finished an internship at a major automotive group – project management, 35-hour week, minimum wage – the kind of internship that all of my fellow students chose (“It’s worth it just to put on your resume!”). I half heartedly agreed and signed up for six months.
The following assessments are of course very subjective and for some experiences I take full responsibility myself, as I simply did not do a good job. Nevertheless, these experiences have shaped me and made me take a path that makes me happier.
Slightly euphoric about the futuristic main building of my new employer and the wide range of cafeteria offers, reality quickly caught up with me at my height-adjustable desk. I had just overheard a conversation on the other side of the open-plan office: "I'll just put the boss in CC, then maybe something will actually happen in the next two weeks...". This sentence burned itself into my brain because it summed up the situation in large corporate structures so wonderfully: Strictly hierarchical. Politicized. Slow.
The search for meaning
I quickly had to come to terms with the fact that the milestone plan was infallible, the head of department untouchable and conflicts often unsolvable. But which questions occupied me even more when I stared at my Excel sheets with a tired look: Why am I doing this? What is the point of it all?
Unfortunately, the only idea that came to me in my frustration at the time was to accelerate my head towards the screen without any breaks... and not the slightest clue how to answer my questions except: "That's just how it is".
It was probably also due to my lack of fascination for cars, a questionable choice of studies and the urge to be able to see visible results of my trade. But I couldn't imagine with the best will in the world why one should spend one's life energy as a small cog in a huge construct for the visions and dreams of a few. At the latest when I trotted out of a two-hour meeting with "bigwigs" from the board on the subject of "CD slot silver or black disguise", I was completely devoid of sense.
The sense in a chocolate bar - the insight
Exactly in this phase, in my mid-internal crisis so to speak, Mathias and Thomas (later co-founders of the nu company) called me and said they had come up with something - it was about hemp seeds, raw chocolate and healthy food and they urgently needed reinforcements.
As crazy as it may sound, but suddenly there was the chance to really make a difference. If I could offer people a product that would help them to eat healthier, I would have found much more sense for myself personally than having been involved in the facelift of a luxury car line. All of a sudden I felt this intrinsic motivation, went home at 5 p.m. on time to work on the marketing concept for nucao and suddenly I was no longer the sourpuss of the service.
What I realized during this time is that one sense in everyday life can change everything. This sense can be to help develop the best cars in the world, to earn a lot of money or to feed your family - that's what everyone defines for themselves. However, due to unclear responsibilities, internal power games and rigid processes, I was left with the feeling that many of my colleagues would rather call the last two things the last two things, and thus are not fully passionate about what they do - and all that for 35 hours a week.
I believe that everyone can find their meaning in the professional world if they question it regularly and draw conclusions from it. Certainly, grumbling at the highest level of the pyramid of needs, namely that of self-realization, but that is precisely why it is so relevant for large parts of our society.
To what extent we have found our purpose in the nu company and are still looking for it and what we do against rigid hierarchies, politicization and inertia, you will find out in the next articles. 🙂