Time is Of the Essence: The Eight Hour Dilemma

Forest Kong, BA'18

“When one chapter closes, another opens”. Gone were the long bus rides to campus, the weekly VSEUS meetings, and days of frantically cramming for exams the night before. The idea of having to face new challenges in life seemed so expectable, yet that reality did not set in for me until my last moments on campus as an undergraduate.

Fortunately, that reality also meant that my hard work and perseverance paid off in the form of a full time position as an Actuarial Analyst at Morneau Shepell. I find my self incredibly proud to reach this milestone, and confident that the many unfamiliar learning opportunities that will inevitably arise will contribute to my development as a professional.

Joining the team as one of the youngest members, I felt the constant need to prove my worth and solidify my position within the company. To me, this could only be done through learning the ins and outs of the industry, and to undertake any task or project that was thrown at me. Like many new hires across various industries, I felt that putting in extra hours at work was the proper way to quickly develop my skills. Otherwise, there would be no way to keep up with the consultants that may have had over a decade of experience.

Furthermore, time seemed to work differently in an office environment. Student life in a way was fluid and flexible; scheduling could be modified and time would be allocated according to constantly changing needs. As a student, my schedule largely revolved around my needs and interests. In the workforce, my schedule also needed to be flexible, but this time revolving around the needs of the office and my team.

To my surprise, time went by a lot faster during a typical eight hour work day. Things moved at a different pace at the workplace, and I quickly found out that maintaining a work-life balance was much more challenging than before.

Funny enough, my manager sent out an article that resonated with me and I’m assuming many other younger members of the workforce who struggle to establish themselves in a world generally dominated by traditional rules and work ethics.

The article notes that the secret behind anyone’s success at a firm is not based on the extra hours added to one’s work day: it is the ability to manage one’s energy. This heavily relies on an individual’s self awareness; one’s ability to understand both their physical and mental capacities are crucial to finding a healthy balance in conjunction with the demands of the workplace. While I am still a work in-progress, simply working with and being around my peers at Morneau Shepell have taught me the following:

  1. Being resilient towards stress is a necessary trait for success in the workplace, but being proactive, rather than reactive, in managing that stress is even more so for both quality work and personal happiness
  2. There is always work to be done, but that does not necessarily mean that it must all be done at once. It is much better to pace yourself to sustain quality of work and life.
  3. Be realistic about your limitations. It is entirely okay if you do not know the answers to your problems, and it is wise to seek help when you need it.

I find that the most important takeaway is that with each stage in life there are experiences that build towards and prepare you for the next. In my case, lessons learned as an undergraduate has contributed immensely towards the development of my professional career, and has ultimately lead me to where I am today.

Though the way I manage my time and energy is vastly different than before, I have learned to grasp firmly the motivations that have always driven me towards self-improvement. Being effective is not only about working hard, but also about working towards your advantages. Managing time and energy is like that as well; your strengths and limitations should all be accounted for in your work ethic. After all, you know how you operate best.

I must admit that despite the amazing and truly valuable experiences that I had as an undergrad, post-graduation has yielded nothing but enjoyment. When you walk across the Chan Centre for your convocation, know that you are walking towards another stage in your life that will inevitably be filled with opportunity, growth, and self-discovery.

Author Biography

Forest Kong, BA’18, graduated from the University of British Columbia with a combined major in Economics & Statistics and a minor in Commerce in 2018. He is currently working in Vancouver as an Actuarial Analyst for Morneau Shepell.

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