Lessons I’ve Learned From Job Hunting

So I guess I’ll make it official, I’m no longer unemployed. I received an offer on the 20th, and I start on the 7th. This means this week I may not be posting much due to moving to a new apartment as well as other family affairs.

What have I learned in the last 6 months?

First off, job hunting is a long mentally trying ordeal. Naturally there were times when I felt frustrated, but I never lost hope. The key thing most college graduates that are job hunting need to know is that we’re not competing exclusively with other college graduates for entry level positions, we’re also competing with the entry level workers who have been recently laid off or are looking for a pay raise by switching companies. So for those of you who are reading this and aren’t in college anymore, it’s probably too late to get an internship. What you can do instead is devote yourself to a project in your free time. Use that as a conversational driver in your interviews. Fully invest yourself in it and your passion will show when you’re in an interview. The x-factor in interviewing these days is being able to impress the team you’re interviewing with so that they envision themselves working with you and they can see what happens when you’re passionate about what you do.

Secondly, don’t be overly selective when applying to jobs. The key thing is applying to a job where you can do the work and in return the job stimulates you through the challenges of the task. I’ve met a lot of people in my life who hate their job. They say their job is boring, that it doesn’t challenge or interest them, and that they dislike the people they work with. When you’re applying and interviewing for jobs, take these things into account. A company’s culture and the people you surround yourself with 40 hours a week matters. If you end up hating your job, well that’s too bad because you’re stuck for at least a year to a year and a half. Any shorter period of time reflects poorly on you when future employers see it on your resume. People always tell others to do what they love, but the odds of you finding work regarding something you love is slim. If I did what I loved, then I’d be the first 5’9″ Asian in the NBA. But that’s not going to happen. Instead, people need to tell others to do what interests them. Suggesting this is more realistic than telling people to pursue what they love or dream for. After all, a dream is called a dream for a reason. It’s a far stretch. Don’t get me wrong, some dreams can be accomplished, but as a new college graduate, the odds of that are slim.

Lastly, stay confident and believe in yourself. If you graduated from school whether it’s trade school, college, or anything else, you have the skills necessary to do what you studied. After my interviews I would always ask myself how can I improve myself so that I could do better in the future. Some of the things I did paid off, some of it didn’t. In the end, I still spent a lot of my free time learning and reviewing things I felt were necessary to perform the jobs I was applying for. Keep that in mind and mention it in interviews. By doing this, your interviewer will know that they will be hiring a person who will constantly improve rather than just stay stagnant.

These three points are the best way to sum up my approach to job hunting. I also want to thank all of the people who gave me advice and encouragement. Hopefully those of you job hunting have people to support you as well.

 

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment.

 

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Polarized Societies: Overlooked Threats To National Security

In my post yesterday I left the reader with an unexplained thought. The idea that if a nation’s population is extremely polarized, it can hurt the government. In college I took political science and international studies classes along with my engineering courses because these issues interest me. In one of my classes, we discussed national security in all forms. The one argument that stuck with me was what happens with a nation’s population no longer have common beliefs.

What has always been unique about America is how our nation is a collection of various ethnicities, cultures, and religions. Why is this unique? In Europe, most of the countries are relatively small compared to America. Each country’s population generally has the same ethnic descent, beliefs, and that is what generally defines what the country’s policies revolve around. America however started as a mixing pot of “misfits”. Our founders were people who no longer shared the same interests or beliefs as those in power in their old countries. Their belief in the freedoms and rights that should be guaranteed to people was what eventually spurred the fight for independence. Unfortunately, the Native American’s were seen as a threat because their beliefs and culture were too different from the settlers. This could be seen as what happens when a nation’s population is too polarized or divided.

Continuing on, as the industrial revolution hit America, more and more immigrants came to America in hopes of pursuing a better future. Born from this was the concept of the American dream. But in each of the big cities prejudice and distaste between the various immigrants led to divisions, gangs, and violence. The Irish, British, French, Italians, Germans, and so on all tolerated each other but not all their ideals were shared. What eventually happened that killed this situation was the change of attitudes in the next generations. Innocence is a beautiful thing. A child doesn’t know that they are different from others until someone points it out. As each generation gained more and more exposure to other cultures Americans evolved. Instead of holding true to old fashioned beliefs, we began to accept each other slowly. To a certain extent America is in a good place. Sure there are still hate crimes that happen, but these hate crimes are due to ignorance that we as a society must slowly weed out. In order to continue to collaborate in a society with so many different backgrounds, everyone needs to meet each other in the middle.

What happens when we don’t?

So what if we continue to remain polarized on issues such as immigration, social welfare, and all the other big debates? First off, the rich won’t win. Statistically there are more “poor” people than there are wealthy. I’m sure in the event of a civil war, the rich could pay off an army, but the strength of a paid off army versus the zeal of those fighting for what they believe is right pales in comparison. Secondly, the more divided a country’s society is in their beliefs, the less certain a government can act. As we see every day, our Senators and Representatives spend countless hours debating and stalling votes just so that a bill that they don’t agree with doesn’t get passed. Society as a whole is punished through lack of progressive change and results. When a government is not able to respond to the needs and demands of their people, that government’s strength weakens and may eventually be overthrown. We are seeing this problem in a lot of the Middle Eastern countries right now.

So how can we avoid making the same mistakes?

Collaboration. Truly work together rather than refuse to budge. What we see in the news right now shows where we’re going wrong. Politicians refuse to work together. Instead they’ll sit and wait for a bill to not pass and them blame the other party for lack of progress. Collaboration requires everyone to work together. If nothing gets done, then it’s everyone’s fault. There’s no such thing as a perfect society or a perfect world. There can’t be. Why? Because we are all individuals. We all have varying beliefs that may match to a certain degree, but will never match 100%. That’s just what being an individual means. So collaboration is the best way to reach an agreeable point.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment.

 

To Those Second, Third, and Fourth Years In College

Since all the colleges in the US have started classes now, I wanted to write this post for those of you who are no longer freshmen in college. The reason why this post is important is because it discusses certain steps you need to take to give yourself a head start in your future job search. Take it from me, someone who has had a long ordeal looking for my first job after college, what I advise in this article is what most hiring managers look for in their entry level hires.

First and most importantly, get an internship. Get an internship regardless of the level of pay. What you get out of internships is training, experience, and a professional reference in the field that you may plan on entering. Even if this isn’t the field that you end up in after college, the experience you gain as well as the lessons you learn are things that you can use as example in interviews. The company you work for now may also end up being the company that hires you after you graduate. These hires are very common, especially if you do a good job and make a good impression on your manager.

Secondly, DO NOT SCREW UP YOUR GRADES. This is an obvious piece of advice that no one plans on doing wrong, but shit happens and you just need to go from there. I screwed up my grades when I was in college, in my field it’s something that can be forgiven as long as you have experience and the ability to communicate what you know, but many employers set GPA limits that restrict who can apply. This was a pain when applying to certain companies, it was more of a pain defending myself in interviews when they asked why my grades weren’t perfect. There’s also the issue of graduate school. Sure, you may not be considering it now but eventually it may be a good idea for promotions. Graduate school applications and admissions are highly dependent on a good GPA. Good schools want good students.

Lastly, if you can’t get an internship, GET A JOB. Sure you may not think you have the time to balance work and school work, but not having a job and having good grades is probably worse than having a job and having average grades. Hiring managers want someone who can think on their feet. Jobs provide the opportunity for you to adapt to situations in the office regarding customer questions, on the fly decisions, and more importantly co-worker interactions. If you are that 4.0 student with no social skills, time to get social. No one wants to hire an awkward person who doesn’t fit in unless it’s the night shift.

I kept this post short so that only the most important points are here. Please take these to heart, in 10 interviews, all of these things were brought up by managers and are generally what screeners are trained to look for. Other than this, good luck in school and have fun. It’ll be the last phase of your life before responsibility truly kicks in.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment.

 

The Blacks, Whites, and Grays of Life

So I’ve actually wanted to write this post for a while. The reason for the long delay is finding a way to write this without offending the potential readers of this post. At the end of the day I think the only way to go about this is to not use controversial issues as examples in this post.

So what is this post about?

Society seems to be quite polarized these days. I know people don’t see things in black and white, but the problem is, the media paints the majority of their articles in black and white.

Why is this a problem?

Well, when we’re exposed to these summaries which simplify an argument so that it reflects the opinion of the writer, then we slowly lose our own thoughts in important matters. 99 percent of social issues cannot be looked at in black and white, there’s simply too much gray to consider.

A smaller scale example could be for a high school senior choosing between a full scholarship to a state university, or going to a top 10 private school and ending up in debt. If we were to look at this in black and white, the debate would be free education or debt. But what are the grays that factor into this? First off, the quality of education this senior will receive matters. Secondly, what will be the result coming out of graduation. Will this student be paid higher for graduating from a top 10 school or will it be about the same? Third, what type of companies hire from these colleges? If we looked at it only in black and white, then we would be making a mistake and overlooking other possible questions.

How does this apply to social issues?

I’m not going to go into details about the ones I list now, but I will state that I am neutral. Common social issues that should not be looked at as yes or no issues: abortion, gay marriage, social welfare, illegal immigrants. All of these issues come up every election year. Rightly so because these are issues our society worry about. The problem is, election coverage is done through the media. Certain outlets like FOX are highly conservative, and other outlets are highly liberal. What ends up happening is we have no one arguing/covering these matters from a neutral standpoint.

Why is this a problem?

As a society we need to understand what true government is really about. Government is about collaboration, working together for the greater good. What does collaboration entail, cooperation. Cooperation between two people means small concessions need to be made. Cooperation between millions of people? I can only imagine how many concessions need to be made. So I implore those of you that read this article whether you’re liberal, conservative, or a moderate, please understand that the more polarized our society is, the more dangerous and unstable our national stability becomes.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment. Again, I am completely neutral when it comes to arguments about social issues. Both sides have valid arguments, but neither side should be looking at it from a black and white perspective.

Lessons Apple Can Learn From BlackBerry

In recent news, BlackBerry has signed a tentative deal to be bought over by a financial group and will be taken private when the deal is final. Looking back, it’s quite sad to see a company that had such a dominating hold on business smart phones take a turn like this. Dell is another company that has chosen to go private, but their reasoning is slightly different. The recent struggles that BlackBerry has experienced can be traced to their lack of innovation in response to change and competition, as well as their naive belief that their user base would remain loyal to their product. These mistakes should be noted by Apple due to the similarity in their thinking right now.

For you Apple fan girls/boys, don’t rage because of what I’m about to say. It’s merely the perspective of someone in the technology field who has for years been unimpressed with the “innovative technological breakthroughs” Apple has marketed to the world. Most of what they market have merely been the standard annual upgrade in hardware and software. We see these upgrades every year in computers, TVs, and cars. The only reason why the public overlooks these things is because these companies don’t go around marketing standard upgrades like it’s the next big thing.

Examples of “innovative upgrades” that we’ve seen in other technologies:

Fingerprint Scanner
First and foremost, when I heard Apple had put a fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5, I laughed. Why? Because this isn’t anything new. A few years ago, fingerprint scanners on laptops were the “it” feature for “secure log in.”  Now? Laptop manufacturers have pretty much done away with these scanners because half the time, these scanners don’t read correctly. This results in repeated tries, which take just as long as typing in a password. If you think your finger print is as safe as a password, well you aren’t using the right type of password. People have brought up jokingly that a paranoid significant other can just hold your phone up to your finger while you sleep and still gain access to the phone. There are videos on YouTube of people using the scanner with their nipple, toes, and other body parts. This scanner, not so innovative.

Siri
I admit, when I first saw Siri being marketed I thought it was funny in a good way. After seeing my friends use Siri, it just looks like a pain in the butt. The best way to summarize Siri is a voice recognition software that is programmed to perform a certain query(search for the question you ask it) and respond to you vocally. For those of you who have had smart phones for a long time, voice recognition has been on your phones since 2010, you just failed to notice it because it didn’t talk back to you with pre-programmed responses. Siri isn’t a new innovative technology. It’s just a twist on an existing technology, marketed so that people are aware of its existence.

The days where Apple was a trendsetter ended around the iPhone 2/3 era. Since then all they’ve done is add small existing technologies into their phone’s functionality and marketed these new additions as the next big things. What was truly innovative was the big transition Apple forced phones to take. The conversion of an MP3 player to a suave looking smart phone took the world by storm. Adding the cloud, integrating Facetime, and providing enough functionality to have BlackBerry eat the dust was Apple’s most productive time. Since Steve Jobs’ death, Apple has stalled. I don’t write this article because I dislike Apple or anything. I just don’t feel that anything they’ve released recently can be seen as a threat to their competitors. At the end of the day, Steve Jobs left us with black and white color options because he believed that people need to be told what they want, not given the choices. This also benefited Apple because the variation in production raises costs. But that’s another matter. What matters most is Apple noticing their lack of progress and correcting it so that they don’t end up becoming the next BlackBerry.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment(Please don’t rage Apple fan girls/boys. This isn’t a Windows phone vs iPhone commercial).

SNAP Challenge – Stepping Into Someone Else’s Reality (PT.2)

Alright, in this post I’ll be continuing and concluding the topic of food insecurity. Like I said before, I got this idea based on Panera’s CEO, Ron Shaich’s own experience with the one week SNAP Challenge. On his last day, his post highlighted the main things that he learned through the challenge as well as the mind-boggling statistics regarding the reality that many of us are unaware of.

In his post, he cites statistics from the USDA and the Census Bureau regarding the 45 million Americans who live below the poverty line. In case you don’t know where the bar is set for the check out this link to see the chart the details what counts as poverty in America. The USDA states that approximately one in six Americans are affected by food insecurity. One in six, think about that. This means someone in your block, your apartment complex, or your townhouse community is struggling to make ends meet and feed themselves or their family. What’s even more shocking is the level of education that some of these people have.

Food insecurity doesn’t only affect immigrants, people without high school or college education, or the homeless. We need to remember that the elderly live on a very small budget once they retire. Life gets tougher as you grow older, not easier. The elderly are constrained not only by the amount of aid they get from social security, but also by the proximity and availability of affordable food options in nearby grocery stores. Those also affected include college graduates who struggle perhaps due to debt, unforeseen circumstances, or the struggle to find work. Included in this issue are children. Children suffer the same fates their parents suffer. The tragedy of this issue affecting children is they depend on food to develop physically as well as mentally. If these children’s ability to develop is stunted due to lack of nutrition, it will only result in further struggle for them when they mature.

So what’s the point of this post? To bring about awareness. Most of the people who read this blog are my friends who are around my age. If we become more aware of such a pressing issue, maybe we are then able to take notice of the problem and try to assist in this issue. After all, this may look like a personal struggle, but overall it is a social issue that needs to be addressed. Many people feel that government aid is a sham that ends up being exploited by criminals, but at the end of the day, what system isn’t being exploited? What matters most is that there is some form of assistance for those who really need it. If we were to shut down or reduce the budget of every program that the government provides, then college grants should be cut, social security/unemployment should be cut, and public parks should be shut down. But again, the exploitation of public programs isn’t where we should be focused. Our focus should be on who we’re trying to help and whether it is making any sort of impact.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment.

Don’t Look Down On Gaming

So I thought I’d do a fun post today and continue the SNAP posts tomorrow. This morning I stumbled upon an article on TechCrunch discussing how Starcraft 2 can actually help improve your cognitive dexterity. It reminded me about studies I’ve read about in the past naming other benefits that playing video games can have. So today’s post is going to discuss the benefits of gaming  as well as how it will continue to evolve socially.

One of the biggest things about how society views video games is that it’s a recreational activity kids grow up with. These video games I’m talking about aren’t titles like Pong, Frogger, or Pac-Man. The titles I’m talking about are more like Counter Strike, Starcraft, Halo, basically anything from Super Mario and up. These are the titles that my generation grew up with as kids, and are probably still involved in. Guys, girls, anyone really, probably have some recollection of these titles. The only girls I know that don’t game are the ones who didn’t have older/younger brothers. All in all, my generation understands the joy that these titles brought us when we didn’t have money to go out or weren’t old enough to go out.

Our parents and grandparents? They don’t understand why some of us still game after we’ve grown up. To them, we should’ve grown out of this by now. In a sense, yes we have grown out of it to some extent. Spending a whole day gaming is unthinkable and not recommended, but playing an hour or so a day isn’t that bad. Celebrities such as Dwight Howard, Andy Roddick, and Gordon Haywood are known to be avid video gamers. Overall, there’s a social stigma that hovers around gaming that hopefully will go away and here’s why.

Gaming has health benefits. One of the earliest studies I remember reading about in high school discussed the impact that first person shooter games(Counter Strike, Halo, Battle Field, etc) have on a person’s reaction time. Games in the real time strategy genre (Starcraft, Warcraft, Command and Conquer, and Age of Empires) stimulate you cognitively. They challenge a person to multitask, analyze the situation, and make spontaneous decisions regarding unforeseen circumstances in your strategy. To compare it to a board game, these games are a really fast moving game of chess. Other video games have been developed or adapted to improve your health such as Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Fit. In a certain sense, gaming can also improve your social skills. Games like World of Warcraft, Defense of The Ancient(DoTA)/League of Legends(LoL)/Heroes of Newerth(HoN), and anything team based revolve around coordination and cooperation. This means that communication is key. For people that don’t game, they don’t see these aspects of gaming and look down on gamers. But times are changing and so is gaming.

E-Sports is an up and coming thing in our technologically connected world. We are now seeing a consistently growing scene coming up in every multiplayer game genre. Professional gamers sponsored by professional gaming teams compete almost every weekend at tournaments held all over the world to win and make money. The scene has evolved to the point where tournaments with prize pools as big as 2.6 million dollars post taxes are held annually with participants from Europe, the Americas, and Asia. These teams compete year round with maybe a one month break after this major tournament for team shuffles and vacations, but train 8-10 hours a day with their team and continue to play in their free time. E-Sports’ growth and sponsorship from many major companies shows how big of a gamer fan base there is. Many times people who don’t play the game watch once and get hooked. Watching these professionals compete for such large sums of money is just as exciting as watching the NBA finals, the Superbowl, or even the Olympic finals. At the end of the day a sport is just a form of competition and E-Sports is the gamer version of that.

So if you don’t game, or don’t like gaming, give it a shot. Who knows, you might end up finding a title you like and going with it. But in an age where there are so many applications for our smartphones, I highly doubt people don’t at least find some sort of amusement from games. I just hope when I get a job I won’t be too tired to game.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment.

SNAP Challenge – Stepping Into Someone Else’s Reality (PT.1)

So this will be my first multiple post topic on this blog. I felt that this matter is too complex to fit in one post, primarily because I don’t like leaving my readers with a full essay to read.

For those of you who have never heard of the SNAP challenge, it’s basically a challenge for people to live on the weekly budget given to those who live on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). The weekly budget for this challenge is $31.50, $4.50 per day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This year I was reminded of this challenge because there was an article about Ron Shaich, the CEO of Panera Bread, taking up the challenge and blogging about its effects on him each day. Ron’s partaking of this challenge isn’t something sporadic. First off, Ron actively works to spread awareness for in his words “food insecurity in America.” Secondly, SNAP is being threatened with cuts in funding by a proposal in the House of Representatives.

The reason why I want to blog about this topic is because it is something that Americans overlook. Too many Americans take food for granted. We go to the grocery store and look down on off brand products. We are blessed enough to be able to afford choice selections of fruits, meats, and snacks. More importantly, we don’t have the stress of counting how much our basket costs and whether we can afford it or not. With $31.50/wk these things we take for granted become unavailable choices.

In college, I realized how wasteful Americans are with their food. Growing up in my household, leftovers were and are never thrown away. Sometimes it gets to the point where we’d be eating the same assortment of plates for a few days, but food is never thrown away unless it has spoiled. But my experience in the dining halls changed how I thought other people conducted themselves with food. Having a buffet style dining system meant people would be grabbing 2 or 3 plates regardless of how much they weighed or were able to eat. I saw people take single bites out of certain things and never look at it again. All of the leftovers eventually went into the garbage can. This wasteful habit that many Americans have developed is an example of how our prosperity is taken for granted.

Unfortunately taking these things for granted is a reality of life, and what you do with your prosperity is your choice. But the goal of the SNAP challenge as well as this post is to let people know that there are in fact people who are less fortunate than us. It’s a reminder of how good your life is and if you have the ability to throw food away, maybe you need to recalculate what portions you’re making, as well as how much food you’re buying.

Thanks for reading. Like I said above, this topic will be a multiple post topic. Feel free to comment.

 

Quick Update 9.17.13

Hey guys, sorry for the low amount of posts last week. I spent most of the latter part of last week preparing for an interview yesterday. This week I plan on at least three posts including this one. This one will just be an update on what’s going on in my life as an unemployed college graduate right now. So let’s get to it.

Like I said above, the end of last week was really hectic because I was trying to prepare for an interview for a company that needed a developer for their in house web application. Unfortunately they did not list what technologies they used for their UI design and database, so I spent most of the weekend trying to relearn what I had picked up in Javascript, HTML, AJAX, and JDBC. When I got to the interview I found out that they actually use C# and Visual Basic .NET which I have no experience in. Yay right? Anyways, the interview wasn’t very technical. They spent the greater part of it asking personality questions as well as what my goals were in a work environment. I think I connected with them pretty well and it’d be interesting to work for a small company that will soon experience a large growth. I’ll be hearing from this company by the end of the week. Fingers crossed I get the job before I have to apply to defer my loans. I’d rather be able to keep my promise on the loans than defer.

The rest of this week will be spent preparing for another interview. This time it’ll be in software testing. Unfortunately I have no professional experience in software testing. My only experience in testing has been testing my own class projects and helping other people troubleshoot their code. Hopefully I’ll remember and learn enough on the subject to have a fair chance for this interview. The only thing is, the company is a really big company so I don’t think they’ll be as forgiving in terms of lack of experience as the other company. Either way, I look forward to the challenge and the opportunity that has presented itself.

Other things I need to take care of this week include finding out who I need to contact about loan deference as well as what I need to submit as well. I get the fun task of feeding my friend’s dogs while they are out of town. It’s fun because I always wanted a dog but my dad never allowed it. Also I’ll need to think of new topics for the posts this week. I’m running a little dry on interesting/thought provoking ideas. If you guys have any suggestions, feel free to comment. If I don’t know what the idea is about, I’m more than interested in researching it and providing my thoughts in the future.

 

Well thanks for reading. Feel free to comment!

A Look Back On 9/11

Today is September 11th, a day Americans will always remember and a day that those of my generation can consider the first memorable national tragedy. Like the assassination of JFK, MLK, and various tragedies, we remember where we were, what we did, and how we felt on this day. So before I begin with my recollection, I just want to express my gratitude to those who served and were heroes that day and to send my condolences to those who lost loved ones in this attack on innocent people.

September 11th, 2001: That morning, I had just come in to my 6th grade classroom from the morning break when the PA went off and our school principal asked us to hold a moment of silence for the morning’s tragedy. At that time I don’t think anyone in my class knew the details of what happened, but our teachers throughout the day didn’t seem comfortable. It wasn’t until I was home that I learned the magnitude of the tragic event. I remember turning on the television so that I could watch Jackie Chan Adventures but what was playing instead was the news. At first I didn’t know why, so I channel surfed a bit, that was when I realized what had happened. On the television I saw an airplane fly into one of the twin towers. I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I continued to watch. I listened as the news detailed the events that transpired, the two that hit the world trade center, the one that hit the pentagon, and the one that hit the field through the heroic efforts of those on board. I’ll never forget the feelings I felt that day and the days after. In my opinion that was the last time America was truly united. Since then we’ve reverted back to a divided country. But every year, on 9/11, we unite again to pay tribute to the service men and women who served that day and went to war the days after, and those that were lost in the attack and in war.

What’s sad, but understandable is how half the kids currently in school right now don’t remember or don’t truly understand the magnitude of the events that transpired. It’s like how my generation will never understand the strong emotional impact that the assassinations of JFK and MLK left on the generations before us. I’d like to hope that the children who haven’t experienced a tragedy like this will never have to experience that, but that’d be naive to say. All we can do is hope.

So as we go about our day, hopefully we are thankful for our blessings, thankful for those who serve everyday to protect us, and thankful for those who sacrificed for us. Let us always remember, and never forget.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment.