Ten things I wish they taught us back in college

1. Work-life balance
2. The dynamics of a workplace
3. Stress management
4. Time management
5. Managing personal finances
6. Insurance
7. Investing
8. How and when to get a loan
9. The proper use of a credit card
10. Philippine taxation

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For the love of…

December 15, 2011 is over. Just in case you were wondering what the importance of that date is to me, let’s just say that I have been waiting for that day for almost four years now. And, everything that I have been doing for the past few years has been leading to that date – the soft opening date of The Mind Museum.

I am the exhibit manager for the Universe Gallery and the Atom Gallery of The Mind Museum. This means, I have to do everything to make it possible to produce all the contents of these two galleries. I don’t make the exhibits myself (save for some components I really had to do on my own), but I had to coordinate each and every designer and fabricator to make the production of these exhibits possible. We also had to make sure that all the exhibits are showing the correct science principle that we want to communicate.

The months and weeks leading to the soft opening were one of the hardest, busiest, and most challenging time of my life. There is nothing so soft about preparing for the soft opening. There were non-weekends, mega-overtime/overnights, and never-ending inspections, meetings, phone calls, and texts to fabricators. Up until 530pm of December 15, I was still literally rolling on the floor trying to check everything and tidy up everything in my galleries. Only after then was I able to run off to dress up and make myself look human and decent enough for the affair. When I got back a little after 6pm, the vice president was already halfway through his speech.

Perhaps the sweetest thing about December 15 is hearing the appreciation and praise for the things you are working so hard for. It was so nice the way the guests loved the “night sky” in the Universe Gallery, the way the kids were hiding in the planetarium from their dad, and all other wonderful feedback that we’ve recieved after that night’s guests (a.k.a. The BIG donors) have seen what they have given their resources for.

Work isn’t over yet, though. Just a little bit more to trudge through to complete the contents of the museum. Just another arm and leg to spare to make things possible. A little holiday break to recharge for the last stretch.

Everything for the love of the BIG BABY I’ve been taking care of for the last four years. 🙂

A season of growing up

“What is the right age to become a woman?” That’s one of the most annoying lines I’ve heard from a certain commercial on TV lately. I always answer in my head, “when you stop asking stupid questions like that!” But then again, it’s something to think about. How long does it really take for us to reach that certain maturity after which we can already claim that we have finally become full-fledged adults?

Well, of course there will be very different answers for each and every person. There is a certain maturity you reach the moment you step out of school and into the workforce. There is a growing up as you finish major stages in your life and you move forward. I would guess the entire twenty-ish stage is an entire decade of growing up – hence, the quarter life. It’s at this stage you come face to face with the biggest decisions in your life – what career path to take, who to love, who to marry and when to get married, where to live, what to spend your limited time and resources on, among many other things.

Almost an entire decade of growing up. But sometimes there are events and situations that force us to metamorphose so quickly in such a short period of time. To say that these moments are challenging may be an understatement. These moments are moving, sometimes earth shattering. But after such, we hopefully become much better versions of ourselves.

I’ve been in an accelerated season of growing up these past few weeks. Work stress is at an all-time high because of our December deadline. A lot of things also happened in the family, and I needed to assume responsibility for our household for an entire month. The responsibilities are so great in both professional and personal aspects of my life. To be able to take charge and take care of all these responsibilities, to be mindful of other people and things beyond myself is something that has pushed me way beyond my limits and my comfort zone. I’ve gone beyond just I, me, mine. A lot of other things now depended on me.

And then, there’s an emotional growing up. I’ve isolated myself from certain emotional possibilities in the last four years of my life. Blame it on the last guy I fell in love with. But in the last few weeks I have finally realized the best lessons I have learned from that horrible experience. Only lately do I appreciate everything that I have gone through then. It was really meant to ready me for the best things to come.

Sometimes, some things are really once-in-a-lifetime

The first company I worked for after graduating from college was San Miguel Corporation, my dream company then. A little before I reached a year in the company, I received an email from my mom. It was from her friend / colleague, about a certain job opening that they thought I may be interested. I wasn’t looking for another job then, I was still happily employed in San Miguel. When I read through the email, two thoughts struck me – I was exactly the person they were looking for, and the work opportunity they were presenting was one-of-a-kind. I just had to try it out. There was nothing to lose.

And so I emailed my resume, and then I was called in for interviews. I was very transparent to them that I was only considering this opportunity, but I was still happily employed. I do not know how many people they considered for the position, but they may have realized the same thing I realized the very first time I read about the job opening – I was the person they needed. Of course I also had doubts about transferring. There was a lot of benefits in San Miguel that I would be foregoing if I did transfer. Also, the work assignment seemed so demanding, I was afraid that I won’t be able to survive. Lastly, they were offering me only the same salary as I was receiving in my previous job – there was no financial incentive to transfer.

I had to weigh my options. I could choose to stay in San Miguel and enjoy the stability of my employment there, as well as the uncomplicated nature of my work. I could choose to really gamble on my career by leaving San Miguel and joining this new company. Should I join a small company (of 5 people then) or stay in a giant corporation? Should I transfer to an office twice the distance from my home? Should I leave my stable corporate job for a job in a non-profit organization?

At the end of my discernment, I wrote and filed my resignation letter to my boss. I told her the real reason why I was leaving – because there was an extraordinary opportunity presented to me, and it would be a big mistake for me to let it pass. She knew there was nothing she could do to make me stay.

Fast forward to three years after, I am now still working for The Mind Museum (in-the-making). I joined the initially as a Project Development Assistant, and then later I was offered to be an Assistant Exhibit Manager. Don’t be fooled by my titles, I actually do a lot more than those titles describe. I enjoy everything I do, however tiring they may get. I love what I am working on. It’s monumental, and that’s no exaggeration. Imagine being part of the team who is building the first world-class science museum in the Philippines. From a team of 5, there is now 10 of us, and still counting. I am a pioneer, being that I am employee number 3 (less all the people who have left the team), the first after my two bosses. Still toiling hard to go up the ranks, but this opportunities has given a lot of valuable learnings for me, beyond anything I would’ve experienced if I did stay where I was before.

Opportunities come and go in our lives and we have to be able to identify which opportunities we should not let pass. Sometimes they require from us a giant leap of faith. Sometimes taking the leap can make our lives better or worse, but they will teach us valuable lessons nonetheless.

Ask someone who knows

One of the most helpful things I live by is to ask someone who knows. I have this as the very first article in this blog, because this applies so much to a lot of things that we have yet to face. When faced with any challenging situation in life, the best way to know the solution or the best action is to ask someone who knows. This doesn’t mean there are particular people who is all-knowing that we can ask for everything. Usually there is a person who will be the best one to help out through a certain issue, and other people for other issues.

For example, when I need advice for career, I usually seek the help of my big brother or my parents, because they have had good career experiences and decisions. Both have a different take on career, being from two different generations, yet both are helpful.

A particular lesson is when it comes to heartbreak, never ask someone who has always been in a happy relationship to help you out. You have to seek out someone who has been through hell because of a breakup, and yet survived and recovered. That person would have learned a lot of valuable lessons that can help you through your own struggles.

In the same way, it’s best to ask for relationship advice from someone who is in a relationship, or has been in one. Bonus points if that person has a similar type of relationship as you and your partner.

For the quarter-life issues, I think the best people to ask help from are those who have recently battled the same issues. The older generations never knew about the “quarter-life crisis” that we now commonly speak of. In essence, it is actually better to ask for help from people who have the same experiences than to ask other people with much more experience, but have not experienced what you are going through.

Coming to my important point, I think there is strength in putting together the experiences of different people who are going through or have gone through their quarter lives to be able to help each other out, especially those who have yet to go through similar experiences. I hope that this site will be a platform for this sharing and mutual support. I’ll start with my experiences and then slowly draw in different people with different backgrounds, to share their different stories and the lessons they’ve learned.

Please do feel free to share with us your own experiences, as well as share our site with your friends who may also benefit from this sharing of experiences.