Choosing your career

Graduation season is over. Now it’s time for most new grads to look for work and enter the real world. Some may be fortunate enough to inherit their family business or continue their budding online business/jobs but most would be out in the job market and lining up in job fairs and interviews.

Last week, I read very good articles from Philippine Inquirer about Very common (and very bad) ways to choose a job by Ernie O. Cecilia. It’s a very good article for people who are actively seeking employment. And another article entitled ‘Art of successful career shifting’ by Tita Datu Puangco, is a good read for those who are thinking of switching jobs.

An excerpt from Very Common (and very bad) ways to choose a job by Ernie O.Cecilia of Philippine Daily Inquirer

…never let anybody dictate what career is suited for you. If you let him or her, it’s just like letting a judge sentence you to an imprisonment for 40 years in a career not of your own choosing, perhaps based on needs of the economy. Your preferences, passion, training, inclinations, goals and aspirations are never a factor in the choice. You could end up in two ways. If lucky, you could get your dream job. If not, you’re doomed to 40 years of hard labor or a lifetime of meaningless routine in a dead-end job. Worse, you won’t last 40 years – you could die of career stress, dental diabetes or other lifestyle illnesses while trying to escape from boredom.

Like it or not, there are millions of people who found themselves in jobs they hate because they never really  made a good choice. Today, they plod aimlessly as they drag their feet to work, not knowing why they do what they do. Their advocacy is for more holidays. Their wish is that Congress should reduce the workweek to 3 or 4 days, and have as many paternity leaves as there are maternity leaves.

…Be constantly aware of things that stand in your way to finding your dream job. Sometimes, the people you love, and the people who allegedly love you, are often the stumbling blocks that deter you from pursuing the career that’s best for you.

Useful Tips

  • Know your passion. Life is short. I see no point in doing something you hate to do. Many successful people are happy doing work that makes them happy. Look inside you. What are your interests? What type of work makes you happiest? What were your childhood dreams? Get a job and start a career by pursuing your passion. Of course you must temper you passion with the reality of available jobs. Where possible, don’t compromise. If the job you want does not exist, you can find a way to invent it. If there is no employer that offers the job you want to do, you might just start your own small business. I think it was George Burns who said, “I’d rather be a failure at something I enjoy than a success at something I hate.”
  • Know your competencies. What skills have you learned and developed in school, at work, and at play? The natural tendency for graduates is to pursue a career related to their major in college. Let me disabuse your mind. There is no law that requires you to take a job or start a career related to your major in college. For all we know, you made a wrong choice of your major.
  • Understand your priorities. A job or career is just another part of your life. Life has several aspects. Understand your priorities in life and focus on them. Often, life asks for trade-offs as you journey. Always know your priorities. Always try to maintain some balance in the many passions that you may have. Life’s journey could mean two steps forward, one step backward. The operative word is “balance.”
  • Choose your destination. A career is not just a job. Like life, it is a journey. You’re back to the question that once lost its sex appeal for you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” (My tip: Visualize what you want to be, where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing when you’re 50, 10 years from now, 5 years, or a year from now. It will give you a glimpse of your future…a vision. 🙂 )

–end of excerpt

How did I choose my career as an IT practitioner?

When I was young, I remember answering the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” by saying that I want to be a doctor. I can still see the evidence in my grade school yearbook: Mylene’s dream: to be a doctor. However, when I was in high school, I realized I dreaded wearing the lab gown and I didn’t like “inoculating bacteria” or “dissecting a cockroach”. I couldn’t stand it. My microbio teacher would glare at me when I let out a scream when the supposedly dead cockroach starts to move. And I wanted to throw up when I saw moving organisms under the microscope when we placed a sample specimen from the tummy of the cockroach. Ewww!!!

But when it’s time for computer class, I get excited.  I especially enjoyed making the sophomore Comp Sci project of the school logo in Turbo Pascal. My project wasn’t that good but my classmates’ projects were awesome. I was fascinated at how they were able to program the colorful lines and circles to move and rotate and form the logo. Oh, I fell in love with computers then.

During my junior year in high school, we were asked to create a mini computer system. I and my two groupmates chose to create a “gatepass” system for our dormitory. A little background: since we came from different parts of Mindanao, we stayed in the girls dormitory inside our campus. We were not allowed to go out during weekdays but we can file a gatepass during weekends if we want to go to the city or go home. The dorm manager has to check our consent forms to know if our parents allow us to go out without a “sundo” or if we are allowed to stay overnight at our friend’s house during the weekend.

Anyway, that project kept me up for many nights. My two groupmates hated comp sci and loved biology so it was a great opportunity for me to work on it. While they focused on working with our thesis partners – rhinoceros beetles larva and green muscardine fungus, I opted to work with the computer most of the time. That’s the time when I felt that I wanted a career with computers. At that time, I badly wanted to be a software developer. So when I was in college, I enrolled in the Information Technology course. My highschool groupmates ended up as a nurse (now working in UAE) and the other one, as a chemistry engineer (in Cagayan de Oro).

I will confess something. When I was in my senior year in high school, I wasn’t very sure of the course I’m going to take up in college. In different colleges/universities that I applied to, I wrote a different course. In UP Dil: Chem Eng’g, UP Los Banos: Applied Math, Ateneo: Comp Sci, MSU-IIT: Statistics. But a week before I enrolled in MSU-IIT, my uncle asked me what subjects I liked in high school. And I answered, Comp Sci and Math. And he told me to enroll in Information Technology. I protested, “Huh? Information Technology? I don’t want to be an encoder! Or a receptionist in some hotel!” Haha. I seriously didn’t have any idea about IT during that time. But when he told me that I’d be working on computer programs and mathematics/logic, I was sold to the idea. And the rest is history.

Am I happy with what I’m doing right now – as an IT practitioner?

Yes. At times, my work can be stressful and sometimes I get the feeling that I still have so much to learn and so many skills to acquire and develop, but at the end of the day, I still feel that I made the right choice. I still lack a lot of skills but I’m betting that this would be easy, knowing that my interest and passion lies in it. 🙂

How about you, are you happy with what you’re doing now?


Investing in stocks through Citiseconline 2: An Update

The Philippine stock market has been doing good in the last few months and I am very pleased with my stocks. There are occasional downs, yes. But it’s a pretty good investment and learning experience so far. 🙂

I still have so much to learn about investing in the stock market but right now there are a few guiding principles that I follow such as: Choose only GOOD (diamond 0r stable) stocks. I’ve read an article by Warren Buffet about making sure that you buy stocks only of companies whose businesses you understand. What you don’t know, you don’t touch.

Another thing that I need to keep in mind is to buy when prices are low and occasionally, if I have very reliable sources that say that the target price for a certain stock has been reached and it’s time to “let go”, I sell.

The third thing that I keep in mind is to be consistent. I try my best to put take out my budget for investment first before I spend on anything. It’s hard but it’s doable if you’ve really set your mind into it. I’m also lucky to have teammates who share the same passion and discipline of depositing our “investment budget” to another bank account. 🙂

I really hope I can invest and make money through stocks so that I can also retire early..haha. 😀

Another year of blessings! :)

I don’t have much time to write about the past year in my hmm..not so young life anymore. Haha. But given a minute to reflect on the year that was, I could only think about all the blessings that God has given me.

The highlight, of course, would be finally entering the industry, specifically working at Accenture here in Manila. I had struggles, yes, but those were part of my wonderful learning experience as an IT practitioner. From the protective and comfortable walls of the university, I finally entered the real, exciting, sometimes cruel and stressful world of the IT industry.

Despite all of the struggles and new experiences, heart-palpitating moments, nosebleed calls, mind-wracking debugging instances (I even blew up the dev server! :p), I still feel that this is the career that fits me, at least for now. Yes, there are times when I feel like it would have been much easier if I haven’t left my teaching career, but I would have killed my spirit then.

I have lived quite a comfortable life here in Manila. And thanks to my current job, my brother is finally a nursing graduate! Whew! Those 5 years of sending him to college has often left me broke just after the salary days. Haha. Just kidding. God has been so generous and faithful to His promise of blessing my life.

This year has been fantastic. Maybe one of the best years in my life. If there is just one more wish I could ask, it would be to have my loved ones close. I have “traded” them for my career and personal growth. Living so far from them is the price I’ve paid for my career here. Maybe one of these days, I would have more days in the calendar with them. But for now, I’d have to ask help from IT, my buddy, to keep me connected to my loved ones. 🙂

By the way, thank you for blessing my life.