Collection of 2014 – Happy New Year, Lunar New Year, 4 Months

Hi guys, sorry I haven’t been blogging in a long time. The holidays + work turned out to be a lot more than I could handle in terms of time and energy. So happy new year/happy lunar new year to those of my followers who read this. I hope everyone has a good year in the year of the horse. I’m excited about this year because I’m a horse and I always look forward to my years.

4 months… it’s really been 4 months since I’ve started my full-time job in my test engineer role. It feels like time’s just flashed right by, but I guess this reflects how busy I am at work these days. Looking back, these 4 months have taught me a lot of lessons. Lessons about the internal strife that is part of working at a big company, tips and tricks that go with the job, and how I view my role within my group.

To start off, I guess I’ll address the internal strife I mentioned above. Working at a big company has its perks. The reputation of the company makes your resume a lot more credible, you yourself make it even more credible when you can actually communicate your role, contributions, and skills acquired in your time at a big company. Your role however in a big company can be quite small/focused. In a sense I’m lucky enough to be in a position where my job can be as big or as small as I want it to be. I’ve come to realize I’ve exposed myself to a lot more responsibility compared to some of my coworkers who have the same role. I’m not saying that I do more than others, but I definitely put myself out there so that my managers and peers know that I’m always willing to learn and learn to do things correctly. The flip side to this ability to become involved in different aspects of work is that there seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes down to who should be doing what. There are definitely situations in meetings where some of the developers, managers, and test engineers have a hard time deciding who should be doing what. This confusion results in a very bad rap when the customer is unhappy with an issue and the fingers are being pointed. In general, working at a big company always comes with its pros and cons.

Skills, tips, and tricks. While I was in college, the projects and tasks I was exposed to generally revolved around the use of one or two skills alone or combined. I’ve come to realize at work that this isn’t the case. Our products combine so many programming languages, levels, and skills that if I hadn’t learned a variety of these languages, I would have a hard time doing my job. If you’re still in college and you’re studying programming, make sure you know SQL, linux/unix, C/Java,and some sort of mark up language. My personal adventures in android/HTML turned out to be very helpful in the workplace when dealing with GUIs and parsing data. Ultimately the potpourri that our software is made from is much more complex than I can contemplate.

As for my role in my team, I’m still NG2, aka new guy 2. There’s a lot that I don’t know or haven’t even been exposed to yet. I have this saying among my coworkers about how I’ve only faced 2 out of 7 dungeon bosses. By that, I mean I’ve only met and survived encounters with two of our customer representatives. As for my experience so far, I know that to a certain degree they depend on me for a facet of our products’ functionality. This also gives me a sense of security when it comes to knowing that I’m being of use. But this sense of security isn’t enough because what I know is only 15% of what our products are capable of. Like I said above, given the opportunities, I’m trying to involve myself in as many opportunities to learn as possible.

 

With that being said, I still can’t believe it’s been 4 months. I’m hoping that time doesn’t fly by too quickly. At the same time, I’d love for my current project to reach a conclusion so I can put my vacation days to use. Thanks for reading guys. Hopefully I can find time to blog more consistently.

Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas to all of my family, friends, readers, and subscribers reading this. I hope everyone has the chance to spend time with the people who are dear to them. I know this year that’s the only gift I was looking forward to, the little bit of time I could get with my friends who normally have a traditional family Christmas.

This Christmas Eve was a busy one. It’s funny how the holidays become much more complex as you get older and all the relationships between your friends and family get more complex. We end up realizing how precious the time we spend with our friends and family is as well as who holds you in the same priority. As someone who didn’t grow up with money, I was actually able to afford giving gifts this year to a lot of people who I would not be able to afford giving gifts to in the past. I’m very grateful for the ability to do that. During the holidays we should remember that no matter where we are in life, we’re somewhere safe and warm for the holidays.

Once again, merry Christmas to everyone. Stay safe as you celebrate. Thanks for reading!

9 Weeks

So this week was crunch time for my first project. I can proudly say that I passed my acceptance testing and all that is left is installation. After a stressful beginning to the week, my project smoothly passed acceptance testing without any major issues. What have I learned from my first project?

First and foremost, I have to thank all the other people who helped me along the way when I didn’t know about a certain functionality or aspect of the system. My peers were very willing to help and if it wasn’t for this then I’d be lost due to the lack of documentation we have on our systems. With all the components involved that come together to form a system, the amount of information that would be encapsulated in documentation would’ve taken too much time to read through just to get to what I needed to know. As for their help on the online system we use to open issues, update work items, and process project stages, their help was invaluable there as well. I’ve come to realize online systems for paperwork are ridiculous and quite frankly more time consuming than just filling out a normal form.

Secondly, at the end of the day, all the matters is results. I’ve come to realize that listening to my project manager rushing my schedule is pointless because in the end my project was successful. My project manager’s distractions and pressure resulted in my mistakes as well as the delays that came along with those mistakes. If I was left to my self to test everything rather than being pushed to move my project to the next stages, then I would’ve been able to catch most of the non critical issues that will need to be addressed in the future. My SQA and my manager both emphasized to me that in the end, all the customer, management, and the company cares about is the successful delivery of the product through any means possible. So from now on, even if my testing method seems slow, I know that I’m covering all the bases necessary such that I deliver a quality product to my client and our end users.

Finally, at the end of the day, as the focal of the project, I have final say over what I want to do over my project because I’m the one that knows the ins and outs of my project. Not my client, not my project manager, and not my coworkers. At most, the people mentioned above have a general idea about what my project is capable of, but I am the focal, therefore I am the “expert” regarding my project. This means that when I report, I need to be more confident in my answers and the way I vocalize my answers. From here on out, I have a pretty good idea of what to expect, what mistakes are commonly made, and what resources I have around me to help solve/troubleshoot issues that I encounter.

 

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment.

In The Spirit Of Giving Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving in America today and that means I finally have free time to get on this blog. First and foremost, happy Thanksgiving to all my readers! This holiday shouldn’t be the only time we actually stop to think about what we’re thankful for. I was listening to the radio on Monday and the dj was jokingly talking about how he had to work in the UK one Thanksgiving and they thought it odd that we make a holiday just to give thanks when thanks should be given everyday. This statement does make a point, but I think the Thanksgiving allows us a break from our busy schedules to actually spend time with those that we’re thankful for. As for this post, it will mainly be a reflection on the past year, what I learned, and what I’m thankful for.

As I am every year, I am thankful for the health, happiness, and prosperity of myself, my family, and the family of my friends. This year was a big year for me. It was a time where I transitioned from being a student with limited responsibilities, to an unemployed adult, to an employed full-time adult. Throughout this year, I faced many challenges and learned many lessons as a result of these things. The most important lesson I learned from these experiences is perseverance. Even when things look bad, as long as you keep at it, you will eventually pull through. This applies to life, work, and relationships. At the end of the day, nothing comes easy in life. Nothing in life happens the way we plan it. 

So once again in the nature of Thanksgiving, I would like to thank all of my friends, family, and coworkers for their support and friendship. I wouldn’t be where I am today without having been exposed to the people, places, and experiences I’ve been through so far. Happy turkey day, don’t get too fat!

 

Thanks for reading!

The New Guy Roller Coaster

So these last two weeks have been a really up and down time for me at work. That’s the main reason why I didn’t have time or the motivation to post in that time. At the beginning of last week, the project I was working on was ahead of schedule. By the middle of last week, I felt like my project was in the gutter. Thankfully due to the help of my coworkers as well as the additional hours I put in, my project is all good again.

What did I learn from the last two weeks?
First off, at no time in any of my jobs have I ever been afraid of failing and the consequences of failing. The biggest reason why my project brought about this fear is because our client will be here next week to walk through our acceptance testing. This project, being my first “solo” assignment, is very important because if all goes well, I will have passed the first test in the eyes of all my managers. It also helps prove to myself that I am starting to know what I am doing at work.

On Monday, my project was back up and running. From then on, my focus was on becoming more confident in what I was doing, what I knew about my project, and how I answered my superiors when asked about the progress I was making. By today, I noticed that my project manager seemed to have more faith in me and was asking other leads to start training me in things that show long-term promise. I can’t help but feel a little accomplished because my project manager is one of those “no bullshit” type of people. If my project manager thinks you are incapable of performing a task, you won’t be asked to do anything, let alone given the opportunity to learn new things.

In summary, I feel good about how this week ended. Ultimately I want to keep up this confidence I’ve built and channel it into a good thing. I decided to document everything I’m learning so that future new hires in my department will have an easier time picking up the skills they will need to confidently go about their work. In the end, I’m just thankful that everything worked out in the end. I still have a lot of pressure on my project, but I’m pretty sure I can handle it from here on out.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment!

Who We Are Versus What We Do

As we get older and meet more people, the way we identify with others often times ties in with our occupation or what we are studying in school. I understand this way of getting to know people is part of networking, but it shouldn’t define who we are. Even when people are on a date and introducing themselves, a lot of the time people will introduce themselves and then lead the introduction on who they are with their profession.

In a sense, society set us up for this method of defining who we are. Some people still have last names that are based on the sort of work their ancestors did. This practice of labeling people based on their occupation does not correctly define who they are, it only tells us what they do for a living. Just because someone is a professor, an engineer, a doctor, or a lawyer, it doesn’t mean that is who they are, it only shows the surface of who they are. Our profession is what we thought we would be interested in working in as a means of providing for ourselves and our families. What sets each and every one of us apart from another person in our profession is our hobbies, personality, character, and opinions.

Who we are is more accurately defined by our moral character, what we believe in, and what we’re interested in. When people are asked to introduce themselves or tell someone about themselves, people seem to forget about this. In a lot of the interviews when I asked the hiring manager about themselves the resultant answer would be professional, which is understandable. But when I ask some of my friends how they see themselves, a lot of them still define themselves by what their studying or what their occupation is. To go beyond that is hard for them to communicate. In part I think it’s partly due to our lack of openness in this society and it’s why I decided to point it out in this post. By being able to define ourselves, we are more able to connect with people and build stronger relationships.

In either case, how you want others to see you is entirely up to you. In some settings you may not feel comfortable exposing too much of yourself which is fine, but when you don’t know how you see yourself, there’s a problem. If you’re one of those people who don’t know what you want, like, or who you are, then take the time to ask yourself these questions. It’ll help give you direction and allow you to pursue the things you want.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or share.

Taxes, Their Effect On Your Budget

This week I finally got my time sheets processed and saw the resultant pay slips for the scheduled payments. I was quite shocked by the amount of my paycheck (33%) that ended up going to taxes, social security, and various other fees. It isn’t that it’s any surprise, I had income tax calculated for federal and state before I accepted my offer. But actually seeing it and feeling the sadness that comes with knowing Uncle Sam has come to collect makes it feel more real.

So how does this affect my budget? Well, my coworkers who get paid monthly say they miss being paid weekly and that being paid weekly allows you more financial flexibility. In my opinion, it’s all the same. So what if you get paid weekly versus monthly. At the end of the day, you’re still getting paid the same amount, just at different times. Rent is still due when it’s due. Bills, mortgages, and any other monthly expenses also come once a month. What really matters is that you don’t spend more than you make, and that you save some of what you make for a rainy day. As long as you have the discipline to differentiate between your needs and your wants, then the frequency of your pay makes no difference. What does matter is how much you pay in taxes and maximizing your deductions so that you aren’t paying more than you have to.

I know that sounds bad, but honestly Uncle Sam will just collect later on. The first piece of advice is putting aside money in a retirement fund. For me, my company offers 401k plans with vested matching up to a certain point. I hear I can also buy an IRA account. All of these things help me save money for my future in addition to reducing how much money I end up paying in taxes right now. What hurts the most is being a single full-time worker. For those of you who don’t know, single people get taxed the most. By putting aside money for retirement, I will be reducing how much money I have to spend now. This means that although I’m making more than I’ve ever made in my life, it doesn’t mean I will be able to go out and buy whatever I want, when I want. I still have to have a fixed budget for going out, food, and commuting expenses. In addition to these, I need to subtract the costs of rent, utilities, and other monthly expenses that come on a regular basis. As much as I would like to think I have a lot of extra money, Uncle Sam haunts my wallet in another way, college loans. After all these things are considered, I don’t have much money on the side to splurge with. So in the end, the lesson is to outline all your financial obligations, investments, and compare that to what you make. Only after seeing the big picture will you understand how much money you have left over to save or spend. Up to you.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or share.

 

Office Clown, What’s New?

This post is just a quick update on how I’m doing at my new job.

So it’s now halfway through week 3 at my job. I think I’ve established myself to be one of our office clowns. Overall I think everyone has fun in our lab when we aren’t stressing over a deadline or a spontaneous requirement from our managers but I will admit sometimes I’m a little over the top with my jokes. I don’t go far enough to break any rules, but yeah sometimes the joke just goes a little too far. Oh well, it’s all in good fun.

In terms of my responsibilities so far, I have one project assigned to me for now as I train. From what my managers and coworkers tell me, I should enjoy the light workload while it lasts because soon I will be juggling many responsibilities at the same time. On the other hand, my coworker who is now a manager, tells me that I will indeed be traveling once I get my new projects. This bit of news is exciting for me because I’ve only been to Taiwan, Indianapolis, and California in my life. Hopefully the places I go to will be fun and I’ll have time to explore, but either way, it’s still an adventurous activity to look forward to.

In terms of what I do outside of work, I’m back on my weight lifting routine. The only unfortunate part about moving is that I had to transfer my Gold’s Gym membership to my friend and sign up for 24 hour fitness. The quality of the gyms differs by quite a bit. For just a little more, Gold’s offered towel service, more up to date machinery (cardio and weights), larger quantity of weights, and overall it looks better in terms of decor. Instead of lifting in the afternoon, I’ve been lifting before work with my coworker. I’m also trying to figure out when the basketball courts are and aren’t busy so I can spend some time tuning my game before trying to play with people I don’t know. Other than that, I’ve been trying to make new friends at work as well as reconnect with friends from college who are still in the area. Either way, life is pretty busy now that I a full-time job.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment.

Society’s Moral Fiber, Change

On Monday one of my coworkers said something interesting that addressed two interesting topics. The first was how the way you look at current events changes when you become a parent and the second was about how society’s moral fiber changes. This post will mainly address the second topic primarily, but if any parents are reading this, I’d love to hear about how their views changed by comparing how they looked at things before and after they had kids.

Society’s moral fiber is a very interesting topic because the easiest way to see this change is through the change of style of women’s clothing. I’m not saying it to address anything in a sexist or negative manner, but the change over the last 100 years basically shows how society changed what they accepted over time. In the beginning women were basically wearing large dresses that covered up the majority of their body and swimsuits were one pieces. Now, we see little girls in mini-skirts, spaghetti straps, and women on the beach in bikinis.

The way this topic came up was because one of my coworkers mentioned how she wasn’t really bothered by Miley Cyrus’ behavior. My other coworker quickly asked her how she could say that when she had a kid. He asked her how she would feel if she had a daughter doing that on stage for the public to see. Her response was that society was coming down too hard on Miley and that no harm came from her performance. His final response was that there was no apparent harm, but it could set a precedent that other people base their decisions on. Given enough time, this precedent could lead to other more vulgar performances. His summary was, society’s morals change slowly over time, the change is so slow that people overlook how much harm this change can cause, at the end of the day if it isn’t stopped now, then society lowers its standards, resulting in comparably low moral fiber.

In a sense I do agree with what he is saying. I don’t have a problem with fashion because at the end of the day it’s another form of expression. I must admit I am not in favor of Miley’s decisions, but it’s her life, her image, and ultimately her freedom of expression. Ultimately I feel that society is ever changing. What we agree to one day may not be the same idea, action, or policy that we agree with in the future. The results of our approved standards or moral fiber is what we as a society must deal with whether they are positive or negative.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment/share your thoughts or experience.

Workplace Shenanigans – Drawing The Line

So I’ve officially been working for two weeks now for my company. Overall I get most of what I’m responsible for as well as the structure of our team. What I really enjoy about the people I work with is their lightheartedness and their work ethic. In the middle of this week I realized how much more time my lab puts in compared to the other programs in our company as I was looking for supplies in the building. If it wasn’t for the group of playful people I work with, I don’t think I’d be able to stand the long hours and high demands our program has. So what’s the point of this post? Well, with all the jokes that we have going on in the workplace, I figured this post would highlight where we draw the boundary between when and where joking is acceptable and unacceptable at work. I must admit I am still redefining the line in my present environment, but there are still set cases.

The Obvious Do Nots:
In the presence of upper management, executives, and visiting clients there is zero tolerance for joking around. This is a very simple and obvious thing to say because at the end of the day the relationship you have with these people needs to stay strictly professional unless they are the ones crossing the line. Even if they cross the line, you shouldn’t take it upon yourself to exhibit similar behavior.

The Grey Area:
When interacting with your team lead, your direct manager, and other leads within your team there are times when it is okay to joke around. These times are around lunch, towards the end of the day, and at workplace gatherings. Beyond these times, it just depends on the people you work with. For me, my managers and team leads are a bit relaxed, but I can always tell when it’s time to be serious and when it isn’t. What I’m still getting used to is the running jokes that the team already has going and if it is even appropriate for me to get involved. In either case, there’s a time to laugh and there’s a time to work seriously.

The Bottom Line:
At the end of the day most managers don’t care how you go about your work just as long as there aren’t any complaints and that you get the job done in the time you promised. You as a professional working in a professional environment need to remember that you’re being paid to generate results and represent the company in the face of the client. In doing that, there are times where you need to do what you need to do to please the client. If anyone reading this watches Mad Men, then you know a little bit of what I’m talking about.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or share.