Before you worry about finding a job

Please don’t rush into the next stage of the rat race so quickly, unless you already have been thinking through about life and what you seriously want to do for a living while you were studying, because as people will tell you, you might never find yourself this chance of “having a break” again once you jump into the river and follow the flow.

But, yes, I understand finance is a big issue to many people.

Besides getting a permanent job immediately, I’ve noticed these are some things you can consider to help you know what job you might want to pursue full time and still give you some pocket money to survive and pay your loans:

  1. Temporary jobs
  2. Internships
  3. Tuition assignments

If you select these well, they might serve as possible embellishment on your resume as “working experiences”! 😀

Of course, you will be thinking of that elusive graduation trip as well right? 🙂 You will be surprised, this is the most talked about topic the days leading up to graduation and after graduation before the topic switches abruptly to the job search.

Yes, go for it! But besides it, here are other things you might want to consider doing as well:

  1. Do the things you wanted to do but never had the time to do, like pursuing an hobby, picking up a new skill (driving, photography, scriptural studying, languages, cooking, photoshop)
  2. Meet up with friends you treasure but have not seen in a long while
  3. Spend more time with your family
  4. Try voluntary work to widen your perspective on life. (Our lives is not just about us!)

To help you with knowing the direction of your job search:

  1. Do personality tests. Know what you are naturally good at and naturally bad at.
  2. Discover your passion. Know what drives you. How wonderful if your job is your passion!
  3. Know your job requirements. How much pay are you expecting? How much to maintain your current lifestyle, provide for your family, pay for loans and to save up for investment?
  4. Read up on knowing yourself, jobs, resume writing, interviews online or through books. Also talk to people about them. It is really fascinating to seek the marketplace through the eyes of another – a working adult, an employer, a Human Resource staff, a student, your parents, etc.,

For some of you lucky ones, you might have something available to you called the Papa Mama Scholarship and are considering further studies. Do give good thought to what you might want to study, when to study and for how long.

Another thing that fascinates me is huge numbers who are like me, unemployed. There are always many people being interviewed for the same job that I have applied for. Besides fresh graduates, like me, there are also people who were retrenched, who have resigned and who were fired!

Comrades! We are never alone! Do not struggle alone! Share your struggles and disappointment, joys and fears with the people around you. Find encouragement and joy during this job-less period as well. 🙂 See this time as a time of preparation. Perhaps there are certain things in your heart that can be addressed before you begin working.

Do your achievements define you? Do you feel less worthy now that you have no job? Do you struggle with laziness or procrastination? Do you know how to rest and replenish your energy levels? Are you prone to workaholism? Investigating and coming to terms with these issues might have you a great bit when you finally find your first job!

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Before you submit your first job application

Basically, there are two items you will be asked to submit:

1. Your resume – your description of your capability and potential contribution to the company, according to the job description of the position you are applying for, in an organised manner, easy for the Human Resource staff to know you might be the man for the job.

2. Your cover letter – It’s the letter you attached your resume to. Before you can even convince the Human Resource staff to read your resume, you must first convince them through this letter that you at least stand a reasonable chance of getting the job. Hence, this letter is important as well.

If you can draw attention to your strengths, experiences, abilities, training, skills and how they fulfil the job requirement through both the cover letter and resume, and the Human Resource staff is doing his or her job well, you can be reasonably sure you will be selected for an interview.

(Thanks to Yeu Ann for teaching me these things. It took him very long to convince me that my resume is not about what I want to tell them, but what they would want me to tell them about me.)

Things you must do before your first interview

1. Get a good passport size photograph taken at a studio, keep both soft and hardcopies, preferably before taking the photo go to the hair dresser to have a good cut, wash and dry. This will come in very handy.

2. Photocopy all your certificates from O-Level onwards and get your degree/diploma scroll and transcript certified as true copies at your school. Keep many sets of this!

3. Have a set or a few sets of interview clothings, nice pair of shoes included.

I think this experience of learning I have to do all these actually didn’t come too naturally to me. The gap from student to job-hunter was actually quite a big gap for me. But as my mentor, Michelle, tells me, all gaps no matter how wide they seem, will eventually be narrowed, so just do it!

Just like the gap between Primary school and Secondary school, Secondary school and Junior College (this was a huge one), Junior College and University (even larger) and now being school and the marketplace!

A passion for birds – NJC the bird paradise

Flipping through my WITs project folder for the Bird Awareness Project 2004, brings back many memories.

It’s the passion and drive of a child that I see. I was a fringe member of Greenlink in NJC, when I decided to take up the challenge of leading a team for this project. It appeared very important to me. The things I collected in the folder shows it. There are email conversations with the teacher-in-charge and Ding Li, the ex-NJC student, an ardent birdwatcher, photocopied notes on WIT (Work Improvement Team), MSN conversations with Bing Wen, another ardent birdwatcher who joined our team, contact lists of my team members, the survey we made, the photographs displayed at the exhibition, my meeting notes and mindmaps.

What kick-started this passion was my awareness of these colourful birds flying and roosting about NJC. My jaw will drop at the sight of these magnificent beauties. To see birds like the Red Lory, Rainbow Lorikeet, Tanimbar Corella and Brahminy Kite just blew my mind away. However, what disturbed me more was that the bulk of my fellow NJCians were unaware that we studied in a bird paradise. There were 64 different species of birds in NJC alone according to Ding Li’s preliminary bird list from 2000 to 2001.

I remember frantically catching students attention at the Roti Prata stall at the canteen, when a flock of Rainbow Lorikeets were playfully roosting at the tree next to the canteen. They were noisy and hanging upside down. And I just wanted people to see them and know they existed, even as they enjoy their game of bridge or plate of prata. Another favourite time to watch birds was during the flag-raising ceremony. The “couple” Red and Green Lorry loved to pay us a fly-0ver visit when we sing “Majulah Singapura”. And once the ceremony ended, I can be found frantically pointed to the sky, asking, “Did you see that!?”

The bottomline of our project was to “make the school population aware of the bird species found in the school preises and to get them interested and give them the resources and opportunities to be able to identify them and enjoy them.” To chart our progress and whether our project was successful, we aimed to conduct a pre-post-survey, which didn’t go quite through in the end due to the lack of time.

The climax of our project was during Earth Week 2004, where we had a Bird Sanctuary at the Oasis, this study area with many benches, where we displayed laminated bird species posters; the inter-class Bird Quiz where answers could be found on the posters at the Bird Sanctuary; a guided bird tour conducted by Bingwen and we used the televisions in the Atrium to broadcast information powerpoint slides.

I’m just so surprised that I actually found so much energy to do all that!

Miss Sharon Phua wrote in her email that “You have shown much initiative and passion in Greenlink. Mrs Tan has spoken very highly of you, & I’m sure you & your team will continue with the good work of your seniors & Mrs Tan.”

Just really grateful for this opportunity and appreciative of my supportive team members – Tan Wee Boon, Yeung Jian Sheng, Benjamin Lim, Wee Hong Yuan and Low Bing Wen.