Balancing Act

Free at last!

And a string of great things has happened consecutively during the month of March. For one, I’ve finally finished my study at Cal Poly Pomona and graduated with a degree in International Business and a minor in Marketing Management. The entire ordeal lasted me six quarters, back-to-back, or 18 months. As I’ve mentioned several times in my earlier entries, I started my academic career, a goal that has always been at the back of my mind, at Cal Poly Pomona in Fall 2010 as a transfer student. Ever since late September 2010, I’ve got an average of 5 hours of sleep a day and commuting about 90 miles everyday, Mondays through Thursdays. The only breaks I’ve got to enjoy were two 3-week winter breaks (Winter 2011 and 2012), 1 week spring break in 2011, 1 week break before summer quarter 2010, and 1 week post summer quarter 2010 break. Collectively, that’s about 2 months in all spread out between the entire 18 months time span. All the while, I was working a full 8 hour a day / 40 hour a week shift.

Of course, this milestone accomplishment occurred at a very high opportunity cost. Plans, projects and travel arrangements were pawns in opportunity cost tradeoff for high GPA maintenance, something I would never compromise and viewed as a necessity to graduate within my two-year goal. I guess it all boils down to how driven and focused you are in setting and attaining a goal. When in doubt, I apply the S.M.A.R.T. method of goal setting:

  1. Specific – Goals need to be specific, i.e. “I want to lose 50 lbs in three months,” or “I want to pay off the interest portion of my student loan by September.”
  2. Measurable – Goals cannot be attainable if progress cannot be measured. If a goal of losing 50 lbs in 3 months is set, then divide 50 lbs into 3 months to get a target reduction 16.7 lbs per month. At the end of each month, compare the actual results versus the target goals. Adjust the plan accordingly.
  3. Attainable – Goals need to be attainable. For this to be true, it also has to be realistic. Losing 50 lbs in 3 months is attainable. Losing 200 lbs in 3 months, on the other hand, is not.
  4. Realistic – Goals should be realistic, e.g. “I want to graduate within 2 years” is realistic. “I want to be a millionaire in the next 18 months,” on the other hand, is highly unrealistic and unattainable.
  5. Timely – Goals are easily set but many are not achieved. Just look at New Year resolutions. For goals to be goals, they need to be on a set time frame. Anyone can conjure up any statement and say it’s a goal without any intention of achieving it. Assigning a time frame to a goal sets it in motion and motivates the goal setter in achieving it before time runs out.

I’m happy to say that I’ve achieved my goal 6 months ahead of schedule. Achieving my academic goals not only prove the old adage that “if there’s a will, there’s a way” (i.e. no excuses), it also paves the way and open other opportunities that I’ve placed on hiatus for the past year and a half in lieu of education. For one, I can pursue my photography hobby, continue my iOS and OS X programming pursuit, resume my derelict business ventures and projects, travel and even pick up new hobbies, such as oil painting.

Graduating from Cal Poly Pomona is a great achievement in itself. But there were several other events that made the gratification even sweeter. Right before I’ve completed my last set of final examination for graduation, I was presented with two excellent career opportunities that would make full use of my business and marketing exposure at Cal Poly Pomona. These two career opportunities literally fell onto my lap; that is, the two companies made first contact with me instead of me researching for jobs and sending out resumes (I planned on doing that after I’ve graduated from Cal Poly Pomona). I had to make a decision and choose to work with either another Internet media company or a well established Japanese-based multinational corporation. Without hesitation, I accepted a rewarding career as a web and marketing coordinator at the Japanese multinational corporation, established 1885 in Japan. The company specializes in manufacturing high-end automation equipment and its motorized products are used in almost every conceivable products and industries, e.g. Red Box, conveyor belts (groceries, airports), ATM machines, soda dispensers, vending machines, etc. The hiring process was not simple. In fact, it was the most arduous and drawn out interview process I’ve ever had to go through in my entire professional career. I had to go through a total of five interviews and take an exhaustive Caliper Profile personality assessment prior to getting a career offer. The entire process spanned 6 weeks (I was initially contacted by the recruiter representing the MNC on January 30th, 2012 and accepted the offer on March 7th, 2012). I also had to invest in a suit to appear presentable to the Executive Vice President on the 4th interview. Suffice to say, the investment and patience paid off tremendously. The other career offer was from an Internet media company based in Santa Monica. I was recruited by their internal hiring team and the interview process was less drawn out: Two initial short phone interviews (between the recruiter and the product manager), then a 30 min phone interview with the Senior Vice President on a Wednesday, followed by an in-person interview with four interviewers that lasted 2 hours (or 1/2 hour per interviewer) on a Thursday. And then finally an offer was made on the following day. The decision to go with the MNC is a no brainer. All of the folks I’ve interviewed with at the Santa Monica-based Internet media company were with the company for no more than 12 months at most. The company is relatively new, a little over 3 years old, and in the Internet business, technology and trends evolve all the time. This could mean instant profit or major loss (think of content based providers that solely relied on Google, then Google changed its search algorithm overnight in 2011). The upside is the office is really chill and similar to my previous company’s office and corporate culture. This mean seamless assimilation. The folks I’ve had the opportunity to meet with at the MNC have worked there for 8, 15, 25 years and the parent company has been around for 130 years while the USA headquarters have been around for 30 years. The company is more conservative in terms of corporate culture, a stark contrast to my previous company and the Santa Monica-based Internet media company. Regardless, with both options on the table, it’s a win-win situation for me.

Not only did I accept a career offer with the company I wanted to work for and in the concentration I’ve pursued while at Cal Poly Pomona, the company is also aware of my academic and work schedule and ethics for the past year and a half and was courteous and understanding enough to extend the option to begin work after enjoying spring break – and I mean really enjoy spring break. As of March 15th, I exited from my previous job and took a 4 day detour to Carmel-by-the-Sea and Cambria with my girlfriend. The resignation was in itself a catharsis. When we were up in Carmel, our room got upgraded at no cost. We went wine tasting at Galante Vineyards and due to a rowdy drunken group that later got thrown out for their rude behavior, our wine tasting was on the house.

When we returned home, everything was tidy and my silver molly gave live birth to 10 large fries. They range from pure silver, to pure black to somewhere along the middle – a little mixture of silver and black.

Silver lyre-tail molly fries

I’m ready to begin a new career and resume the hobbies I’ve placed on hiatus. And that means resuming my Acura RSX DIY articles, which I will start putting up over this coming weekend.

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