Challenge After Graduation

Yesterday was my graduation march and it is one of the most special day for my parents. All their sweat and tears didn\’t go to waste after all. Now I need to return the favor to my parents. I graduated with honors! Oh, really?! I won\’t elaborate much about it. I\’m just happy to get one. Btw, the keynote speech was really inspiring. It removed my doubt as a fresh graduate. Age is all the advantage I have right now; being young means I can do more things to improve myself and there will always be room for improvement.

Today, I officially entered the workforce — my first job. I attended the orientation, mingled with other new hires, chatted with complete strangers in the office and listened intently to my superiors. I know it will be hard to shine because I am surrounded by talented people — it is a challenge to work harder. All employees are members of one big family. My boss actually feels like a big sister to me and my team mates are about my age. We are like brothers. The true competition here is among me, myself and I.

As quoted in the keynote speech yesterday, Today\’s excellence is tomorrow\’s mediocrity. Very true.

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My Thoughts as a Fresh Grad

It fascinates me that after a seemingly losing battle with the panels of our thesis and our beloved school research coordinator, our thesis turned out to be really successful. Except that it has only gone through private alpha testing. I don\’t know if my groupmates are willing to pursue the commercial implementation of our web application. I have a business contact who shared interest on the possibility of creating a fork application using our thesis. I\’m still considering if that really is viable here in the Philippines. I\’m not even sure if our school would shell out money to BUY our software. Now, that\’s a different story all together.

Right now, my future lies ahead of me. I have the potential to create a bright future but I\’m still waiting for the best job offer. I can opt to start a new business but I think that the talent I have invested in IT may go to waste if I do not gain industry experience for at least 3 years. What I have learned in business so far, especially in IT, is that there are many companies out there that could eat you alive. In IT business, it\’s hard to stay afloat if you can\’t keep up with the skills needed. What more if you come from the bottom and just starting to climb up the corporate ladder? It\’s scary.

I decided to gain more experience from experts. I do not want to learn the hard way if there would be easier way. It\’s just impractical to beat myself up. This is the same reason why I do not hastily accept any job offer. I want the best possible option I can get and grow my career in one company steadily. I do not want to shift from one job to another. My father worked in one of the largest consumer goods company in the Philippines. He stayed there more than 15 years and as a result, his salary ballooned that it could even surpass the salary of an average senior manager in a medium-size company. Sadly, he had to retire early because of downsizing initiatives of the executive management.

After analyzing the problem my father had during his working days, I decided that the best possible option is to become a manager so that I am not directly affected by the management. I want to be the one making decisions, not the one taking orders. Well, of course I have to start somewhere at the bottom, as a prerequisite, to climb up.

I also thought that being a freelance consultant might be wiser than being a manager because even if you jump from one company to another, you can bid your price. Being a consultant can really take a long time though. It takes years to become one.

I have also considered being a professor or trainer but I have learned that having industry experience is priceless. Yes, teaching can be fun and it\’s a very reputable job. However, putting into another perspective, an industry practitioner can be trained to become a teacher through workshops and seminars; a teacher cannot be easily trained to become a practitioner, IMHO. Given that a UNIX professor has 3 years experience versus a UNIX administrator with 2 years experience and knowledge in system implementations; both are certified. If I am a recruiter for Project Manager Trainee position, I would choose the UNIX admin without a doubt even though both are certified professionals. Think about it.

To be fair enough, some professors I know had part-time jobs in their respective industries. Some had shifted from IT to full-time teaching. It really depends on personal preference. I know that professors in DLSU have to take doctorate degree before they can be full-time professors. I guess the hard work really pays off if one pursues the career he desires.

Call centers have tried to hire me countless times even before graduation. They have offered job positions like technical support representative (TSR) and the like but I did not take any of their offers not that I am boasting about it. In fact, I nearly ¬†accepted one offer after passing a screening exam but I was not able to appear in the final interview because I had tonsillitis and high fever, which is not my entirely fault. I was somewhat thankful that I did not accept it is because I really wanted to start my career on the right track. ¬†I have no problem being a call center agent but I am just not designed for that job and I know that I won\’t enjoy it. I want to do something that I really enjoy so that it won\’t feel like work because when you really enjoy what you are doing, work doesn\’t feel like a chore.

Ok, I guess I already made my point clear. To all the fresh grads out there, especially in the technical field like IT and Engineering, I hope you already have a good lead in the industry you want to pursue. :) It\’s a long way to go.

Good luck to all of us!

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Next: Thesis Binding!

Today is such a big milestone to our thesis. We have finally come to the stage of binding our thesis, thanks to the blessing of our BELOVED school research coordinator.

It feels good to come this far because only around 5% of our remaining batch is ensured to graduate this July. That is 8 out of about 220 students. Some of my friends are still trying to beat the deadline on July 21. Keep on fighting guys!

I have scheduled my group today to come to school by 11 am. To my shame, I came there around 3:30 pm. Let me redeem myself. I was very late due to several reasons: (1) I tried to finish the installation documentation and soft copy of our thesis documentation. I compiled the soft copy of our thesis in PDF with bookmarks. It took sometime to compile them because I have to insert/delete/update the PDF pages from the latest revisions. (2) I was clueless on how to do the installation manual because we are using a script. There\’s no program installer so I wrote a step-by-step procedure. The idea of \”user manual\” didn\’t sink in my mind until I was half way typing the document. (3) Moderate to heavy traffic to school(well that is not unusual anyway). So, if I just knew that the soft copy and the installer are not really required today, I might have gone to school earlier. Sorry guys. ^_^

My printer is critically low in ink; same with Maiah. P4\’s printer is hopeless. He told me it didn\’t even spew a single drop even with a new black ink cartridge. Thanks goodness I did not let him print our documentation; I decided to take my printer at school so that we can print there on-the-spot. We have agreed to contribute for the new ink. I paid 50% of the price, and they give 25% share each. Unfortunately, the expensive Vaio laptop of Maiah didn\’t cooperate very soon. It had gone quirky for a while because the dude installed two virus scanners. Bad. Very bad. Never install two anti-virus unless you want to screw your PC. When the laptop was already functioning quite right, my printer won\’t work because it could not be detected by Maiah\’s laptop. I really don\’t know why I left the printer driver at home. I trusted that my printer could be easily detected by Windows XP so my printer not being detected by Windows XP really disappointed me. Our friend saved the day because she brough her printer with the printer driver CD. What\’s more surprising is that we have the same printer — HP 3745! Thanks Divine! That was so cool. Then, my printer has Type B power plugs — flat blades with round grounding pin (American 3-pin). Someone actually brought a multi-adaptor power extension but the owner had to go home. Fortunately, the power sockets in our school actually support Type B plugs! We thought that we could not print the second copy of our thesis documentation. That was really close.

To my amazement, I was really surprised that my authentic HP 27 black ink cartridge had printed more than 150 pages even if it already warned me that I need to replace the ink cartridge. That\’s the advantage of buying original ink. You get your money\’s worth until the last drop of ink.

Tomorrow, we will be binding two copies of our thesis. :) That is sooooooo sweet!

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Surprise Interviews

It was really a surprising event this morning. We\’re all at the 30th floor of PhilAm Life Tower and the OJT orientation we all thought would happen between 9:00 – 10:00 AM was just a pretext to a final screening interview. All of us were nervous. Who won\’t? It\’s hard to believe that your effort would be wasted in a single blow. Disappointments are bound to happen anyway, that\’s why I was not very enthusiast about the orientation this morning because I knew anything could change at the very last minute. And I was right. When I entered CA office this morning, there\’s no guarantee yet that I had secured my OJT there. I was surprised but I realized this could happen due to strict selection of interns.

I was chosen as one of the five trainees and I\’m sure it\’s not luck that brought me here alone. I\’m relieved but I felt sorry for those people who were not accepted in. Reality can be really harsh and at times like this, you can always lean back to Him and just hope for the best.

I just remember what the trainor in Trend Micro told me in my previous interview, pertaining to career in IT — You won\’t lose any opportunities. It\’s everywhere. It\’s just a matter of time that it knocks to your door.

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OJT Blues

Several days before Holy Week, some of my friends had a rush of OJT hunting. There are several companies I have applied at the very beginning of our school holidays; however, those companies are either mass hiring for full-time employees or they do not have slots for OJT (how stupid that some companies accepted OJT applications and yet they didn\’t even contact applicants. RAWR!!)

Anyway, I am very thankful that a friend of mine, P4, is kind enough to offer a chance for PLDT internship. Some of us simply freeloaded (like me). I don\’t know if that\’s the best term to describe it but during those dire times, most of us are very desperate to start working on our On-the-Job-Training already because some early birds are already earning OJT working hours during the holidays. We felt that we were left out of the OJT hunting game, but of course it is not just a game that you can give up easily. It\’s the prelude for the real world.

Based on the preliminary results of Philippine Labor Force Survey released on March 15, 2006, there are 2.8 million unemployed persons January 2006 already which is equivalent to 8.1% unemployment rate. That\’s slightly better than last year\’s 8.3% unemployment rate. But still, recent graduates make the number of unemployed people bigger. The expected candidates for graduation this coming August are about to make that figure worse. Scary.

OJT in IT is not simple as it seems to be…. well, at least in my experience. Not so many companies are willing to take in inexperienced college students for them to train in a specific IT field such as Cisco networking, Java programming, UNIX or Solaris administration, blah blah blah… most of the times these positions already require at least a year experience and there are very few companies who entrust their projects to interns. That\’s understandable but that\’s not the problem. Some IT companies accept OJTs just for the sake of it without offering real training. Some give interns clerical work, typing jobs, all-around assistant positions and whatnots. It\’s silly. Some OJTs I found in Jobstreet simply requires you to know MS Word! You won\’t even find this kind of OJT serious. If you want to get into a big company and find a serious OJT, it often requires skill aptitude test, screening and some interviews. In reality, finding a company for internship requires a more complex procedure. Your \”connections\” inside a company such us your relatives, your parent\’s friends and sometimes, your friends\’ friends to the nth degree, is proven to be very effective to boost your chance of getting accepted. It\’s not always helpful though.

Enough ranting. I will now chronicle what happened in my three weeks OJT hunting.

Right now three companies have entertained me in internship — Trend Micro, PLDT and CA (in order of date of application). I couldn\’t wait for Trend Micro for their confirmation because two weeks before Holy Week I already took their test and a whole week had passed without any call or email from them. So, I didn\’t want to waste more time and tried my luck in PLDT. The process was not easy at all. We had to go at Mandaluyong several times just to complete the requirements. At the verge of giving up, I also applied for CA before Holy Week and I was immediately considered for interview after Holy Week. We went back at PLDT the other day and apparently our OJT application in PLDT had been approved. P4 worked some magic. I thought I will settle for PLDT…. that\’s what I thought but CA already clouded my decision. It is really tempting — free breakfast, it\’s in Makati, P150 allowance a day, real training and requires me to get up later because the office hours starts at 9:00 AM. I\’m probably crazy if I refuse the offer. Although PLDT would provide good internship, I don\’t think I\’m built for long journey everyday. I could rent a condo in Pasig but it is not practical right now.

The Holy Week passed by so quickly. I have unwound for a while, visited some relatives and breathed fresh air in Batangas. That\’s about it. Nothing more exciting.

The OJT blues continued. It\’s already the first week of 4th term. To my uttermost surprise, Trend Micro HR department called and I was scheduled for an interview at Libis. OMG… now that\’s more trouble. What if I pass the interview, how I do choose the best option? I don\’t even know how to go to Eastwood. I rode Taxi when I took the exam three weeks ago! I asked Carl and Lloyd about the proper directions and landmarks. I\’m really grateful that they doodled for the sake of the improvised map of Quezon City, Pasig and Makati.


The interview in Trend Micro was ok and I went home thinking that there is a possibility to get the OJT. However, it is very tiring. It\’s even farther than PLDT Pasig. It seems that CA is still the most practical choice if I get selected there for internship.

Two days later after my interview in Trend Micro, CA scheduled my presentation and interview on April 20th. I delivered the presentation well but I was nervous. I have not presented in front of a total stranger before in my entire stay in college so I think it\’s normal to I get a shiver in front of them. The day after, CA called about the orientation on April 24. Eh? Did they confirm my slot in CA already? Was it implied? I\’m not sure but it sounds like they actually accepted me in internship already.

By the end of the day I have decided to go for CA. I know those people who came with us in PLDT would understand my situation, especially P4 because I have discussed this issue with him long ago.

Let us do our best!

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OJT Prank?

Yesterday was April fools\’ day and I had a written exam in Trend Micro for OJT yesterday too. I was thinking, was it a prank? After all it was April fools\’ day yesterday. I arrived there exactly 1:30 PM by Taxi from Cubao and I was truly regretful; I didn\’t commute earlier that I had to ride a taxi to get there on time. Then I went inside the conference room converted to an exam room. There were 14 of us waiting to get the exam. It\’s okay to wait as long as there are seats to relax while waiting, but I was standing! There were 11 seats only and I\’m one of the unfortunate ones who didn\’t get a seat. Not until 2:30 PM that the examiner went inside the room and gave us the exam papers. I thought it was an endurance test until 6:00 PM. Whoever lasts waiting for the examiner gets the OJT. Of course it\’s impossible unless the HR is playing pranks with us which is not true after all. I finished the exam and I left the building… and I\’m hoping that I\’ll get an email soon. ^_^

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Problematic Prof = Problematic Grades

Majority of my friends in UP tells me that problematic professor reflects a problematic grade. The reality struck me and now I know how true it is. It\’s not that you can pass with flying colors because you are good in that subject; actually you\’ll pass because of your professor no matter what circumstances there is. He decides if you\’ll pass or not. Who cares if you\’re the top in class. If you pissed him of, you\’re done. What more if your class pushed him to the limit. He might consider failing the entire class. And what if your professor is just plain retarded…. who knows what will happen.

I viewed my grades an hour ago. Great, I didn\’t expect that my grade in Java is quite high. It could have been higher if I had more time to study but I think I slacked more than I studied. I practically didn\’t do well in most quizzes. Actually I didn\’t study at all. I just read. I\’m just interested in GUI design and most of the codes I learned was forgotten during exams. Thesis proposal just made the situation worse because my group\’s thesis is focused on .NET, so I had less time learning Java. I\’m just glad I enjoyed programming our final machine problem. I managed to get all the required features without much help. I just refered to Java API and I have eliminated all the bugs that I have encountered in the program. I\’m glad that my grade in Java 2 is higher than my grade in Java 1. Cisco is a different story. I\’m just glad that I didn\’t hit the lowest grade I was expecting. I have a very low expectation from the beginning because my professor is very problematic. Oh God, here we go again… enough already!!!

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