Finding some gratitude

Wow, what a week! All I can say is that I am so happy the holidays are over. I felt I experienced a series of bad luck week after week.

It started with the first weekend of December, when I was planning to do some holiday shopping. I wanted to plan ahead of time. My car battery died. I thought it needed some charging so I had to let it charge for a few hours. The car battery was only good for 4 days and I was stranded at a Trader Joe’s parking lot. Then we had to charge it again — enough to last me for the following day and get a new car battery. I got a new car battery and it cost me 120 dollars. Ouch. That was enough to get me gifts for the family I was sponsoring, my white elephant gift for work, and a white elephant gift for my friend’s dinner party. It would still leave me off with 30 dollars to buy Christmas cards and other fun stuff.

Then the following week I got sick. Enough said.

Then the week after I got my PayPal account hacked and they took out 1100 dollars from my checking account. That was probably the worst of all for the month. I told my fiance how I felt the universe must be doing great because it’s expending on my luck for that to happened. He kept telling me to not dwell on it. It’s so easy just dwell and mope. I mean these people took a lot of money from me and I’ve been trying to save money these past few months. It was a headache trying to call PayPal and my bank back and forth everyday that week and asking for temporary credit and when will I get my money back. I still had holiday shopping to do!

But then I realized something…I realized maybe I shouldn’t dwell on all the bad things and let it get to me. The day I got my PayPal hacked was when our client gave us a gift and took us out for lunch. Also my CTO gave me a gift too. I realized I let a good day go sour — or actually…a good week go sour. When I took a picture of my gifts for my daily photo on Instagram (I know that’s cheesy)..it made me realize that I forgot about life’s details. A year ago and maybe years before that I was treated terrible at work. Last year I almost got fired just to get actually fired a few month later. Last year I started a new job with big pharma fatty who treated me awful and refused to give me a voucher for a pair of steel toe shoes. Then the years before I was just simply put it…I was under a couple of slave drivers. They were always giving me extra work because they have to leave earlier for a blah blah excuse or just didn’t want to do it. The work still had to be done because we worked in cell culture. What sucked was when I needed help because I was sick, they didn’t help me.

But anyways, compared to other years, the holidays for 2013 were probably the better ones. Even though I lost a lot of money during that month, I have to realized, I have the best job ever. I am at a job that I do look forward to every Sunday. I get treated very well. I mean last year, I had a supervisor who didn’t bother to give me a pair of 120 dollar pair of steel toe shoes when I started my QA job — no matter how many times I followed up. Before that in my first job, I got sloppy seconds everything. When I started my Project Coordinator job in July 2013, I got a laptop, an iPhone, name placard, and briefcase. I thought “wow, I get all this? What did I do to deserve this?”A month before that I was let go from my contract job. Weird how life goes… I went from being walked all over for years and one day there was a break and I stood up and just found myself walking. Even though it’s been five months, this feeling still feels new in a very, very good way :-). But I’ll go more about those feelings another time…

My fiance is right…I shouldn’t let these events dwell on me.

Survived my first week of being engaged

Actually the day before work, I was really worried coming back to work as an engaged woman. I know some women who go back to work glow in the attention and expecting to be treated like queen for the next year or two because they are putting their work around wedding planning.

For me, I was a little nervous coming to work this week as an engaged woman because I was not sure how people people would respond to a 20 something who just started a job and just got engaged. By the way, I the youngest employee in the office.

I guess my previous experience working with engaged coworkers who were disinterested in their job became even more disinterested. Wedding planning became THEIR job. Coming in at 7 am, pinteresting until 9. Working. Leaving at 10 am to do wedding errands. Coming back at 1 pm. Working/pinteresting until 2:30 pm and getting ready to leave at 3 pm.

Then I actually left for a better job (to get laid off and land an even better gig). Her wedding planning took a span of almost 2 years. I was able to put up the first year. But would I be able to put second year if I stayed?

Probably not. Because I kept getting more work and less incentives for doing so. I became more rowdy and irritated (“really? you’re asking me to put paper in the printer. You engaged right, not illiterate?”)

But in the end, I did pay my dues and currently working at a job I want in the field I want. And in the end, people are begging me to hook them up with an office job. Well, I didn’t just land any office job — I landed a project management job which required a lot of time to study and do pro bono work and networking.

I guess the work attitude really does boil down to the person. Maybe these people just were genuinely disinterested in the first place. I don’t think this has anything to do with their ability to work. I think there are good skills that come with wedding planning–it teaches them to be organized, communicate well with others, budget, negotiate, punctuality– if only they applied to work, I’m sure they’d be great workers.

Maybe for me, it’s because I just started this brand new job in a brand new field and planning this wedding in a year would anticipate some stress. That is why I am thankful I planned for No Wedding Planning Wednesdays and No Stress Saturday to somehow stay sane. Also I’m very thankful to all my coworkers and my friends and family who have been very supportive with just life overall.

Exactly what you think it is!

So yesterday was just a day at Hermosa Beach out with friends for my birthday but then….

2013-08-31 18.01.17Yup exactly what you think it is! And out of all my outlets I decided to post this ring picture on my WordPress exclusively. Too tacky to share on Facebook or Instagram immediately. Since I don’t have that many friends on WordPress and I write more substantial stuff on WordPress, I thought it made the most sense to share on here.

Meanwhile, on Instagram and Facebook, they’re only getting this (and WordPress deserves these pics too):

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This last picture was inspired by the #followmeto series on Instagram. This is probably the closest view Facebook and Instagram is going to get for now.

 

 

What I think success looks like?

I’ve seen this on Facebook and my bosses’ office. I definitely agree.

I’ve found myself in really sticky situations especially lately but like all other times, I try to turn it around. Lately these last few situations have been a more serious degree. I really enjoy my new job.

Not too long ago, I got laid off from my job. I’ve been working in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry since I graduated from college. I saw that as an opportunity to re-think my goals and choose another career path. That was when I changed gears towards public health and I am currently working for a non-profit.

Also my most recent one was walking away from a promising (once-so-promising) start-up. I’ve been with this group since February and we got ourselves a grant and an accelerator. When the accelerator started, my partner was fighting over silly things like money even though my partner said we should try to avoid fighting over money. The thing was I never fought back over money but my partner kept starting the fires. The reason why I never fought back is because I had no money to really keep in the first place.  I already knew what was coming. When you’re an entrepreneur — expect to be without a paycheck for a while. I’ve heard various answers — it could be months and it could be years. I didn’t mind behind without a check from the start-up. I guess my partner was stressed for putting her eggs in one basket. Also my partner and I had very different visions for our start-up — one driven by commercialism, the other was driven by passion. I left not just the accelerator and told the program to just give my stipend to my partner, but overall I left the start-up. Like I said, I had no money to even take in the first place. There was no point fighting back.

That is the ugly side of being in a start-up. Make sure your partner is a real partner and shares the same vision with you. My partner and I saw things differently and it simply wasn’t working out.

It was really hard for me to leave because I was the spokesperson for the start-up. I attended networking events and everywhere I went, people told me that I seemed extremely passionate about what I was doing. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen the next time I was going to see these people about what happened. But now since the worst is over, if I were to ever bump into any of them again, I’m all right telling them what happened. I am posting on this blog after all.

I was afraid of leaving because I was afraid people would think I’m no longer interested or was not willing to take on the work. Not true, I felt because of what happened, the relationship was going to be so toxic and not salvageable — the easiest thing for me was to walk away. I knew I had other avenues to pursue.

I know these won’t be the last time I’ll encounter difficult situations. My boyfriend tells me that my stand-out quality would be tenacity. I encountered some pretty unfavorable situations but I try to do the best I can with whatever cards I’m given.

The Unemployed Series: What I have learned

So today is my last day of unemployment. According to my boyfriend, it seems like I was on vacation rather than unemployment.

A very busy vacation that is.

Anyways I was planning to write more stuff on things I learned during unemployment. Here is what I have so far:

1. Keeping my gym membership - Actually I decided to let go of that one and focus on training on the mud run. But then I signed up for a different gym when I got the job. This one is more of a gym because the one I had before was a yoga studio. I thought I needed to condition my body for the mud run anyways. But aside the point, employed or not it’s important to keep yourself active and get your butt off that couch!

2. Cleaning the house more – I do spend my days sitting in front of the computer or the television when I’m at home and I realized my house hasn’t been cleaned in a while. I’m so embarassed!

3. Read everyday - I can finally finish reading Lean In and I can actually go through reading my weekly magazine “The Week” without rushing and skimming the whole magazine in a day. I think reading everyday is important because it’s always my form of conversation starting. When I go to networking events and people find out  that I’m a Neuroscience major, they would tell me they read The Brain that Changes Itself  by Norman Doidge. When I was working in industry, I barely read anything for fun. In fact I had to make it a goal to read one book a month which failed.

4. Grooming - Working in the biotech and pharmaceutical manufacturing is not a job where I would want to look pretty. If you work in the clean room, you should not wear fragrance, makeup, nail polish, hairspray, jewelry, and accessories. For clothes you should not wear shorts or skirts even though you’ll be wearing clean room uniforms anyways. Actually in my first job, we wore lab coats but I wouldn’t recommend wearing foundation because in the end it got to be all over the lab coat — which is pretty gross.

When I started job hunting and going to interviews again — grooming seemed foreign to me. I wanted to look groomed without going too overboard.

But now since I got the job, I need to figure out what does it mean to be “business casual” without looking too dressed up.

5. Have other people recognize your talent – I know “networking” is the word of our generation but I think some people misunderstand the whole “it’s who you know.” You can’t just get a job because you just know you someone. You get a job because that person knows you’re talents and what you can contribute.

I remembered when me and my group were trying to look for a programmer to help develop our back-end for Neuron Highway, I brought in a programmer because I knew he was good. He’s been programming since we’ve known each other back in high school and I know he’s helped our mutual friends with their businesses and beauty pageants and whatnot. It’s obvious that I picked my friend because he was good at he does and I definitely couldn’t pick anybody else.

6. Revive in the things you love to do – I did not have a lot of time to do my hobbies like I use to. I even signed up for Coursera classes but I had no time and dropped out of the classes I signed up. I get to finally scrapbook last year’s trip to Southeast Asia and New York City. I even bought a Smashbook for the long overdue scrapbook for me and my boyfriend — we always talk about this project. Read, analyze, and enjoy more what I’m reading. Write more on my blog. Cook food I like. Take more pictures but I’ve been so bad at uploading them in time.

FINALLY!!! Plus a lesson in assertiveness…

I have internet after being more than 2 weeks without it!

Unless I went to McDonald’s and ordered a one dollar coffee along with free Wi-Fi of course.

Being two weeks without internet was very hard. Couldn’t catch up on the NY Times on my Nook and couldn’t catch up on blogs.

Anyways my new job is going great. For LA traffic, my hours are pretty favorable. I start before traffic and my time after work varies based on how busy we are at work. If I worked a regular 8 hour day, I can go straight home without hitting any traffic. If I were to encounter rush hour, I can always go to yoga class nearby my work and/or go to gym and drive home when traffic dies down. Also I found a back road to get home. It’s about the same distance as getting home from the 101 but there’s less cars on the road.

After completing my second week of work, I can say that I have settled in — figured out my schedule and how things run. The distance is pretty long — my commute is total 40 miles per day. In San Diego, my commute was 20 miles per day — but I carpooled before. At least I can say that I work around it.

The only conflict I have encountered is my perceived personality. Apparently I am perceived as shy and not assertive. I was pretty shocked being told that yesterday. I thought to myself, “I’m already being evaluated at work! It’s only my second week and I’m still reading procedures (and I got a long way to go)!” I don’t know why I have always been labeled as introverted. Is it my looks and the way I carry myself? I don’t know. I have never seen myself carry myself to the world other than the mirrors in the bathroom.

I told my colleagues about my early evaluation. Some of them told me to not worry and I should just be patient. It’s unfair that I am being judge by my work performance since all I’m doing is reading SOPs for the past week. By the way, there are 200 plus SOPs I have to read by the end of the month.

I think the hardest part of perception is proving them wrong. As long as I’ve known myself, my best quality is always performing my best no matter what cards I’ve been given. But I always fear that people’s perceived introverted-ness of me is basically giving them permission to determine my fate, the work I’m given or if I’m even given work.

Anyways, time to think positive. I guess I can see this situation as an a opportunity. It’s time for me to shed my old work attitude. In my last employer, the last thing you wanted to be was assertive and confident and I felt those personalities were suppressed for so long. Even though I showed disagreement with my former colleagues, it was the reason why I did not go very far in my last job. I have to admit, I did cry after the evaluation. I realized that deep down, if it were any of my former colleagues, they would have cried too and tried asking for their old job back or maybe ask to transfer to an easier job.

But not me… It’s a hard job but I know that I do perform amazingly well in anything I do. I’ve been telling this to people since college and I got a longstanding record to show.

How to exit your old job gracefully (Part I)

I survived one week of putting my two week notice. This is not any job, this is my first job — my first full time job. The moment I was cleared and received the offer letter, plenty of things came to mind such as what would happen to the company when I go? Or how do I tell my boss? Or which boss do I make the news to? Or should I throw myself a going away party? 

My thoughts were sporadic for a few days before approaching my boss with the big new. This is dorky, but I have been researching on how make the most of my two weeks, I came up with what I thought were the best ideas.

1) Write a resignation letter – I was surprised that there were people out there would tell me “screw the resignation letter, if they meant something to you then feel free to write the letter otherwise telling them verbally is enough.” I wrote the letter to my immediate supervisor to make it formal. Also depending on the employer, HR might ask for a letter.

I felt writing the resignation letter was more towards my favor. I thought if I were to tell my supervisor verbally, I would just ramble before getting to the point because I would be so nervous.

2) Say “yes” to every invite at this point. I normally don’t go out to eat for lunch because I always bring my own lunch. But ever since I put in my two weeks, people have been asking me to go have lunch with them especially since my last week of work falls on the same week as Thanksgiving and a lot of people go on vacation this time around. Also since I’m moving, it’ll be a while I’ll see them again :-/.

3) Put a pretty bow on it. Tie loose ends. My focus for my last few days of work is finishing projects whether they’re smalls (days to weeks) and/or big projects (months to a couple of years). Still stay on top of your work.

Recently I had a coworker who left on maternity leave and her tied her loose ends of her work on her last day before maternity leave. I say, finish those loose ends as soon as possible. Trying to finish all your work on the last day leaves room for mistakes and very frustrated coworkers to pick up your mess. I feel finishing my projects sooner rather than wait my last day makes everyone’s transition a lot smoother.

4) Do more RAK (random acts of kindness) – I think I amped up the RAK. I wasn’t sure what to call this part but I felt I needed to give a gift to my colleague because she was the one who did help me with getting my first full time job. I found out from her coworkers in her department that she just bought a condo and maybe she would appreciate something for her new place. I bought my contact a Crate & Barrel giftcard and wrote a card saying “Happy Housewarming and thanks for everthing!” The giftcard made her day because she loves Crate & Barrel.

Another RAK was my coworker’s kids are doing clothing drives and since I have clothes to get rid of, I’ve been donating clothes I don’t wear anymore to their clothing drives.

I cleared the PMI-CAPM exam!

See? Look what happens when you study really hard and use your resources — it finally paid off.

I took the test on Saturday and I felt relieved that I passed the test and my PMI membership should be coming in the mail in the next few weeks. Sunday, I felt like I got hit by a train because of all the late nights of studying and researching even though I know I have to wake up at 5:30 to start the work day. I guess you could say that I was retrograding on my sleep.

For those who want to know my strategy for passing the CAPM exam, here is what I did:
1) As soon as I finished my classes and earned my minimum 23 education hours in Project Management, I applied through the PMI website and applied to take the exam.
2) When scheduling for the exam, try to do it about a month after you take your classes so whatever you’re studying for during the month is pretty much review. I was thinking about taking the exam in December but instead I decided the sooner I take and pass my test, the better. Also, I tend to get paranoid about overstudying.
3) My study tools was Rita Mulcahy’s book and Brainbok.com. I thought the quizzes were the most help. I did buy the Brainbok study materials.
4) Everyone said to memorize the ITTOs but with Brainbok, I didn’t think I had to. I think after quizzing myself (on Brainbok), I felt that each output that becomes an input to another process made sense. Or why organizational process assets is an input to one process but not another.
5) I think you should memorize were the equations but there were surprisingly not a lot of math problems.
6) During the week, I studied about 2 hours a day and on the weekends, as much as I can.
7) I Googled “CAPM practice exams”, “free CAPM practice exams”, etc. It was a little frustrating that a lot of the practice exams varied in difficulty. I couldn’t figure out the feel if the real exam was going to be easy or very difficult. I had some results from practice exams that made me feel better and other results that got me discouraged to the point if I should really reschedule my exam. I guess practicing as many exam problems would give one more confidence on the day of the exam.
8) Don’t study AT ALL on the night before exam. I’m sure glad I did. Friday afternoon, I drove to Irvine from San Diego. The testing facility was the closest one that was open on the weekends. I was anticipating on the Friday afternoon traffic but being aware of being stuck in traffic didn’t make me feel less frazzled. Friday night, I stayed over at a friend’s place and just ate and watched “How I Met Your Mother” on Hulu instead of studying.
9) On exam day, I brought a couple granola bars, water, and juice. I had three hours to take the exam and I took 5 minute breaks every 30 minutes.
10) I smiled when I felt being under pressure. It works and relieves my test nerves.

It’s been a long time since I taken any form of test so coming up with test taking strategies were pretty hard. I went on LinkedIn, joining Project Management groups and CAPM groups reading their discussions and their advice.

See? Look what happens you use your resources. Without LinkedIn, I don’t think I would have known about Rita Mulcahy’s book and Brainbok. Reading through threads on LinkedIn, I found links to free practice exams and advice on career transitioning to Project Management with a CAPM. I may have gotten my credential, but I still feel I have to work for it to get to where I want to be.

The following day, I thought about volunteer opportunities in Project Management with non-profits and organizations. You see, I’ve been working in biotech for a long time as a Lab Associate. With the skills I learned on the way, I thought maybe moving in Project Management in the biotechnology, healthcare, or technology industry made to most sense with what I want to do next. But the problem was that most of my work was in the lab such as process development and projects and I was looking for more versatility and doing something bigger. If I want to move on to bigger things, maybe volunteering on the side as a Project Coordinator or Lead would be a good way to show that I have interacted with my team and my community on different levels. Plus earning hours towards your PMP doesn’t hurt either :-).

(Hopefully, I hear from Engineers without Borders!)

Dear Ms. Unprofessional,

Today I had a food baby from eating at the Indian buffet and you had to call out that I’m pregnant.

Not cool especially during work hours. Can you be a little bit more…professional?

I’m trying keep my head cool after you said that. I know you’re sorry and I’ll take it.  But I don’t really appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Julie

Edit: the next day I felt less bloated. I saw her the following day, she didn’t say anything and looked at my less bloated tummy. Funny thing was that I didn’t retort yesterday even though what she said was uncool.

Always helps to take the high road.