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la vie continue

Today, I have finally mustered up the courage to give an update on my life/recent happenings. I finally feel ready to revisit this blog and start fresh. Let me warn you, though, this is going to be one hell of a long blogpost because I have a lot to say. 

Here is what happened...

SENIOR-YEAR ANTICIPATION

In 2015 September, I entered my final year of college with a heavy but excited heart. To make the most out of my college career (while paying $$$ tuition fee), I decided to take on Animation as a "minor" while continued majoring in Interaction Design. I made it a goal to learn as much as I could during senior year. When school started, I also began job-hunting. 

WHAT LIFE?

My daily routine for the whole year went like this: class from 8:30-1pm on most days, lunch in the animation lab, work on animation short film until 6-7pm (on busier days I would leave at 9-10pm), go home + cook dinner + do homework/have meetings until 11pm-12am, hang out with roommates, bedtime. This schedule went on quarter after quarter, and I was constantly trying to monitor and adjust my emotional state. A few weeks into senior year and I was already feeling stressed and frustrated. Not to mention I also forced myself to apply to 10-20 jobs per week and had a decent number of interviews monthly. At the same time, I was starting to receive rejection letters like a stream of water, one after another. 

JUST KEEP SWIMMING

Despite all the NO's, I was pushing myself to continue. Eventually, I had learnt the ugly truth that as an international student, most companies would not be willing to spend the extra money to sponsor me because (1) I was not "the best of the best", (2) it would be freaking expensive, (3) there were local candidates anyway. Even though they were understandable reasons, it was a harsh fact to keep in mind as I was still sending off job applications. More time had passed, and I felt as if my dignity was being stripped away by the rejections from both jobs and life. I was lost and confused. AM I NOT GOOD ENOUGH? DO I SUCK AS A HUMAN BEING? I couldn't help but ask myself.

THE HAPPY ENDING

Fast-forward to August 2016, present day, after bidding difficult farewells to my favourite people and my second home, Seattle, I moved back to Hong Kong; I am now living at home, saving money, and pulling together some big plans. Most importantly, I am a happy Gloria, employed with a UI/UX design job. After the crazy year, I ended up pulling through and making the best out of terrible situations. 


MY 2 CENTS

\ Research + Work hard + Plan Ahead
When it comes to the struggle of job-search, there is only so much you can do; and by doing these things, there are still a bajillion things that can go wrong–but such is life, right? From my personal experience, in order to prepare yourself properly for the challenge(s) ahead, the first thing to do is to "do your homework". That means doing the research and making sure you understand the company you are interviewing for (their scale, business model, product(s). vision, etc). Right, quite obvious. Another thing is to work really hard in whatever you do–design, engineering, literature, etc–just make sure you are constantly trying to be better at those skills than you were yesterday. Because if the mindset of "oh I'm not going to get that job anyway" sinks in, it will be too late to motivate yourself to work hard; and if you don't work hard, you will have a lot of regrets in the years to come. Last but not least, plan ahead! Life is full of spontaneity but you can always plan ahead in terms of your career goals. Keep in mind that when you set your goals, they are reachable during a reasonable time period–you can read HERE to learn why that is important! 

\ Networking + Interviewing: Practice makes perfect
Throughout school, I'd gone to a large number of career fairs and networking events and to be completely honest with you, they did not help me land any jobs, which was true for many others as well. Often times, recruiters have to talk to many different people and you are just one of the many. They will ask you to apply for the positions online and grab your resume–that's it. This sounds pretty discouraging, I know, BUT keep going to those events anyway. For the first couple of times, you will probably stutter a lot when talking about yourself and get a lot of brain-farts answering questions. If you are like me, you will start getting butterflies and nightmares even weeks prior to the actual event. So, my advice for you is to keep going to networking events anyway to brush up your skills: you will not improve unless you keep practising and trying. You have to become familiar with the experience first before you can nail an interview, and eventually, a job! Treat every conversation as serious as you can and make sure you showcase your best-self when you are at it. I guarantee that your socialising/communication skills will improve by ten folds once you get to the 10th conversation/interview! 

\ Accept, embrace, and move on (let it go)
There is an incredible amount of uncontrollable factors in life that can happen without explanation–but as you and I both know it, life goes on. Always, always put in 101%–if not, 200%–effort when it comes to each opportunity and let yourself shine! Whatever result it may be, if you have poured your heart and soul into accomplishing it, you should feel at ease accepting the outcome and embracing the reality. After all that, you move on. Because even if you rip your hair out, or stay in bed for days and nights to sulk about it, what is done, is done. The only thing you can change is when the next opportunity comes up, the way you would face it: your attitude, strategy, mindset–every detail counts. This goes for dealing with rejections as well as other unpleasant happenings in life. LIFE. GOES. ON. 

\ Rejections are merely opinions of others
My heart still aches a little when I receive rejections from companies, but they don't bother me anymore. I now fully understand that even though companies are evaluating you during job interviews–YOU are also evaluating THEM. In other words, free yourself from their judgements and opinions. There are always reasons behind each rejection, but in most cases, it is just a sign for you to move on and find a better, more suitable place for yourself to grow and learn. You might not have found a compatible team/company/place to be at right now, however, keep trying and you will soon find your own paradise–a place for you to shine. Everybody belongs somewhere, and you can take my word for it. 

\ Learn from mistakes
If you keep receiving rejections one after another, you should keep trying anyway. However, while you continue to try, you should be looking for ways to improve yourself. Whether it is your interviewing skills, portfolio, cover letters, or anything of importance, you are still gaining experiences and should be open to change and improvement. Do not settle for a specific way of doing any part of the process unless you have explored all the options and found the best one (which is unlikely to happen in the first 50 tries). 

\ Stay active
Life can become awfully hectic as you are stressfully job-hunting. A key factor to staying rather positive and mentally + physically healthy is to exercise. During school, I had extremely busy (and bad) days and I would definitely prefer bumming around at home when I had free time. I knew for a fact that I would regret it, though, so I would always get out of the house. If you can get yourself to go for a short run, take some workout lessons (i.e. boxing), or even go for a walk, you are relaxing your mind and releasing "happy hormones" in your body. It is a great way to distract yourself from your days and boost your emotional state (and for other purposes like studying better, and boosting your long-term memory)! It takes determination, time, and effort to switch from bumming around to going outside/to the gym, but it is a significant switch to keep yourself happy and healthy.

\ Get to know yourself
Through the thick and thin, the one who is and will always be with you is yourself, so try your best to get to know the person you are. This can be useful at school/work, for interviews and life, too. When you learn to accept your flaws and love yourself, you can start to see beyond what other people see in you. Take those unique traits of yourself–whether it is a skill or personality trait–and use them to your advantage. Also don't forget to know your preferences and trust your gut-feeling: if you don't get good vibes from a company/interviewer/potential partner/friend/colleague, believe in yourself and make an appropriate decision. 

\ Never stop hustling
Nothing worth having comes easy–this is very true on so many levels. If you want something really badly, you will have to endure all the negative aspects in life and swim against the current to push forward, because in most cases, no one will spoon-feed you. You will not receive what you want just because they see you trying, especially in the real world; nobody will baby you once you enter adulthood. So once you have decided on achieving something - i.e. reaching a life goal, landing your dream job, etc–you are on a mission and nothing can stop you except for yourself. Make strategic plans and start practising that mindset from even the smallest achievements in life. It will take you very far! 

\ Stay true to yourself
Whenever you receive a rejection (it could be love, school, jobs, you name it), you probably feel horrible about yourself. In some cases, after you have had enough, you might even start doubting your very own existence and your ability to reach your goals/dreams. When negative thoughts emerge, just remember to accept, embrace, and let them go. It is unhelpful simply trying to force yourself out of "the limbo of self-doubt" because you are probably already upset enough. So the only way to feel better is to recognize them as they are and let them pass. As long as you don't lose hope when life throws you lemons, you will be able to make it through. When I say "hope", I mean your ambitions, your passions, what you genuinely care about deep down inside. It can be intimidating when you are constantly being told NO, but if you understand that everybody is entitled to their own opinions, and you trust in yourself and your abilities, you will find the right place and person at the right time. Don't fret. 

\ Have fun
Life can suck in so many different ways–but this is only true if you let yourself think so. I have learnt (the hard way ☹ ) that life is awfully short and you can either spend it sulking around, whining about the should-have's and should-be's, or you can learn to appreciate even the smallest things in life. When you can see and cherish beautiful moments without forcing yourself to, you ARE owning and enjoying your life, and you are probably also having fun. Life is, after all, a crazy ride with limited time and resources. So take control of your life and enjoy the ride regardless of the ups and downs! Accept, embrace, move on! 

Gloria Ip