It was the very first question I was asked in a recent job interview. Not exactly the most typical way to kick off a job interview. As usual, I expected something along the lines of “introduce yourself and why are you qualified for this position?”, but the panel chose to be less conventional this time. It was a surprise, yet a pleasant one. Despite having to think on the spot, I was rather pleased they asked.
I don’t know what made them think of this question but I wonder if they looked at my cover letter and LinkedIn profile, where I identify myself as a “passionate transportation planner”, without even defining what it means. They may have wondered whether it is something I actually practice or just another gimmick to impress them, but here is what it actually means to me:
Well, it’s not just a fruit.
It’s to treat your career as not just a daily 9-5 commitment, but a means to support your personal values and interests. You’re not just working for a salary because the opportunity to contribute to something you care about is a reward itself.
My career isn’t something I just fell into by accident or luck. My post-secondary education and early career experience were carefully planned and executed to get to where I am now. I’ve made sacrifices with big opportunity costs. For example, the time I spent in grad school could have been spent living abroad or earning a full time income, as I had been prior, or pursuing a different education such as an MBA. I chose to study locally at York University for the purpose of gaining the local policy background and build my professional network in the region I wanted to work.
Despite a few bumps along the road, the sacrifices have paid off so far.