What really counts

Today as I walked past a house, I saw an old man carrying a big bag full of flyers and sticking them into mailboxes as he went. Honestly, I didn’t know the process could be done so incredibly fast and with such efficiency.

As I walked past him, I couldn’t help but admire this man. It was nothing to do with his work or his age at which he was accomplishing it. It was the skill and efficiency he employed. It was absolutely remarkable. And that brings me to the point of this little post.

Working hard or efficiently has absolutely nothing to do with what you’re doing. One cannot say that he cannot be efficient because he is doing a simple or an ordinary task. The root of efficiency, I have learned, is simply doing something long enough to recognize possible obstacles, and to weed them proactively to get the job done.

As I work for my current coop work term, I act as an intern. And often a lot of work I do has nothing to do with engineering or is just a basic task. But if I do it enough I’m able to figure out better ways to do it. And in the end, I’m better for it.

There is a Latin quote, “Sic Parvis Magna” and it loosely translates to “greatness from small beginnings”. If you’ve ever played Unchartered 4, you probably know of this quote, but hear what I make of it in the context of this post.

Most of us start small. We kick our work lives off with internships, summer jobs or small temp positions. We even kick off semesters with a few classes that are obvious and boring. And a lot of times, we choose not to give our everything because we think of our actions as small or mere transitions to greater and bigger things. But greater and bigger things are built of so many small things. And how are we to ever reach the top of the mountain if we start lazy and hope to pick up our momentum somewhere down a road that only gets harder?

In a single sentence now.

No matter how small the task or your beginning, give it your absolute everything. Everyday. And that’s what really counts.

Insights from “Job”-less Summer

Being a part of a co-operative education program back at the University of Guelph, I was expected and excited to get my first job over this summer. Unfortunately, coming from from a place where financial independence doesn’t really kick in until after college, my resume didn’t have any work experience on it.

Nevertheless, I applied for jobs. The constraints set by the idea of having to re-locate entirely for a summer and the lack of a “full G license” didn’t allow me to branch out as much as I should have for in my job search. Living alone far away from home, even in Canada, can be scary. I didn’t expand my job search locations beyond Guelph and came up empty on both jobs and offers.

“Never let location be a constraint on your job search. The perfect job is usually about two hours away by bus. Find a way.

– Harry

But this summer wasn’t a complete loss. I had the opportunity to intern at a environmental waste water management company in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman (The Middle East). Haya Water collects, treats and re-uses wastewater.

My two months of internship included brief but detailed insights into several functions of Haya Water:

  • Asset Management
  • Lab
  • Quality, Health & Safety
  • Waste Water Treatment facilities
  • Pumping Stations
  • Wetlands Management
  • Human Resources

As students, we study so much about so much. But when exams come around, we wonder,

“My work three years from now will have nothing to do with this stuff. Why am I studying this?”

Well, I finally got to see the application of things I learnt in school. Concepts of BOD, COD and reactors came into play at my time in the lab. The equipment used in calculating Biological Oxygen Demand (What is this sorcery?) for instance, blew my mind. Fluid Mechanics is a big part of setting up the waste water collection network for each locality with defined flows. Apparently, the collection includes three systems: Gravity, Pressurized and Vacuum. Each comes with its own benefits and installation costs.

I can’t thank everyone at Haya Water enough for guiding me in what I can only call a rich experience I will always cherish!

All in all, this summer taught me that there’s ways to make a summer productive. Getting a job is just another way of working on yourself. This internship meant a lot to me. It was the first exposure I had to the real world of environmental management business.

I’m sure as you read this, some of you already have a job. Bravo! But if you don’t, always remember this great quote I just made up:

“A paid job is a great way to have a productive summer. But it’s not the only way.”