Two years have now passed since my first day in the job for Maersk Line.
In one sense they have gone by extremely quickly, with the new reality fast becoming routine: dressing up in suit and tie everyday, using English for work as well as small talk, dealing with colleagues literally across the globe, the quirky habits inherent in any large organisation, and the pride of working for one of Denmark’s best-known and most prestigious companies.
But in another sense, two years are indeed a long time. l’ve changed positions 2-3 times, worked for 4-5 different managers, grown immensely in my knowledge of the business and and industry and expanded my network within it. It is my longest full-time employment ever. My current position is, I suspect, one that many would envy, and I could not imagine a better job at this stage in my life.
Flashback, two years ago. Ten months of unemployment starting to take their toll. Frustration. Doubt. Lack of self-confidence. Before that, a fairly interesting first job with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but with certain uncertainties, and ending with termination.
While I do believe that your job is not everything, it is still a tremendously important factor in defining your identity. Too important? I’m not sure, but I can definitely feel the difference. If nothing else, then in people’s reaction.
When I would explain that I worked for a church, some people might say “Hmm, that’s interesting,” whereas others’ reactions were more like “Really? Why?” or “That must be tough.” Being unemployed garnered less disbelief, but no less sympathy, although even that quickly becomes tiring. In the end, you almost don’t feel like going out at all and having to tell people “Yeah, it’s kinda tough, but I’m managing alright,” especially since that reply becomes less and less credible over time.
Now, however, the reaction is quite different. Often it’s a more or less thinly veiled jealousy, which is understandable, but I have also found that the company I work for is one that many Danes like having an opinion about. Mostly positive, mind you, but definitely curious. I cannot count the times people have asked: “So have things changed a lot since Mr Moller passed away?” (Answer: Not really). On the other hand, I also regularly find myself talking enthusiastically about container shipping and the virtues of Maersk Line to audiences with varying degrees of interest. My loyalty to the company surprises even myself sometimes.
That last fact might be the cause for some healthy concern, but it cannot conceal the reality that, for now, I am in a good place in my career with no intentions of leaving anytime soon.