Monday, March 29, 2010

The Need for an Affiliation

Here's a practical tip for those who are seriously considering quitting their jobs and trying other things for a while.

Not long ago, I was telling my friend SR about the difficulty I was having in responding when people asked me what I did. "So what do you do?" they'd ask and I would stumble and dance around in trying to give a clear answer. I also began to notice that my "Profession" gets asked in practically every form I filled out.

Often, saying "I don't have a job" or "I'm on a sabbatical" or "I'm just taking it easy for a while" is not appropriate. It also invariably leads to more questions that I might not be in a mood to entertain.

When my friend heard this, he said, "Man, what you really need is an affiliation. I fully get what you are trying to do, but an affiliation is very important in this society."

With each passing week, I saw that he was absolutely right. When responding to the what-I-do question I began to notice that I was always associating myself with some group or profession. I would tell some people that I was a freelancer or a part-time consultant or a volunteer. All of these were true but I was implying a greater affiliation than there actually was. Not because I wanted to lie or mislead, but mostly to stave off questions.

So here's my tip: Before you quit, and if at all possible, make sure that you still keep some professional affiliation going. Offering to volunteer (where you see ways you can add value) is the best way I know of to gain affiliations. It doesn’t have to pay, or be full time, but it will certainly make your transition a little smoother.


Anonymous said...

Ram, heres a tip that will solve your affiliation problem without leading to more questions or unwanted socializing.

"I am Ram and I am with Amway."


Ram said...

Hey Arvind,

Amway would indeed do the trick, and probably do it too well.

I know that these people mean know harm. They are in general curious and they do genuinely want to help. So, while it is tempting, I have to reserve the Amway response only for the extreme cases.