When I was a kid, I never thought much of the future–of my future. For 5-year-old me that was just a dream, something I did not want to deal with until it was actually there. Sometimes, I thought about what I would do when I grow up, but it was more as an angry reaction to my parents when they didn’t want to give me what I want, such as:
“When I grow up, I will buy all the toys I want!”
“When I grow up and live on my own, I will never eat vegetables, and I will eat all the chocolates and ice cream I please!”
“When I grow up, I will go to the mall every day!”
But when I was asked what I want to be when I grow up, I was stumped. 20 years was too far away for me to think about. I could not even imagine what I would be like when I turn 8 years old, much less what I would be like when I am 25.
What do you expect to hear when you ask a 5-year-old what they want to be in the future?
My answer when someone asked me that question for the first time was to be a nurse, which my mom was (she is now a proprietor for a subcontracting business). She was my first role model, and I thought she looked pretty in her white uniform. I also got a chance to be with her while she was working. From my perspective back then she didn’t seem to do much when I was there–most of the time she was in the nurse’s station finishing a cross stitch pattern and then walking around once in a while with a clipboard in hand to check on the patients. I also knew she worked long hours and on shifts that I found inconvenient, but back then I didn’t know any other professions aside from hers and Dad’s, which is the military, and I certainly did not want to go after his footsteps.
As I grew older, I slowly learned more about other professions, such as teachers and nuns (I went to an all-girls Catholic school) as well as firemen and policemen. I remember in my pre-school yearbook I wrote that I wanted to be a scientist, but this was probably influenced by my favorite cartoon, Dexter’s Laboratory. However, I actually did not remember writing that at all, and by the time I got to high school I actually stopped liking my science subjects.
I caught my first glimpse of what I wanted when I was 14, and it was to become “successful”.
“Success” to me was owning a big mansion, a luxury car, and a yacht. It also meant being influential to my peers and being well-known for something I can be proud of. I’m not sure what influenced my dream; it was probably my enthusiasm for business math during sophomore year or my then obsession with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, which somehow led to my discovery of Ivanka Trump. While I did not obsess about her as much as I did with Paris and Nicole (yes, I marathoned the first three seasons of The Simple Life, no shame there), reading about her life and what she does made me want to become a businesswoman as well.
When college applications started, I picked any business major with a fancy description that each university offered. In Ateneo de Manila University where I eventually went to, I was accepted for the Communications Technology Management program, which aims to develop Managers for the communications and IT industries.
Unfortunately (for me), I did not take full advantage of my four years in one of the top universities in the Philippines. I spent more time for student orgs and other stuff instead of studying and keeping my grades high, aiming for other opportunities that the school offered such as spending my junior term abroad, or even taking a minor degree. Looking back, I realized I made a lot of stupid mistakes which I will probably regret for the rest of my life.
This resulted to me having difficulty landing a job
I went to Ateneo because it is one of the best universities in the Philippines, which I thought would be my advantage against other jobseekers from other schools. What I did not account for was the other students in my school. Because I did not do my best academically, obviously there were a lot of Ateneans that had higher grades than me. There were consistent dean’s listers and cum laudes, who received job offers left and right within a month after our graduation on March 2012. By June came their “Yay! Got my first job! Here’s our office! This is my desk! Lunch with my boss/teammates!” posts on Facebook that annoyed me to no end (but only because I envied them).
Meanwhile, I was constantly applying for jobs. I got some responses, was able to schedule for initial screening (tests and initial interview with HR), and second interviews with department heads, but they did not progress further. For six months I spent most of my time job-hunting and freelance writing on the side, while my friends from university were receiving their pay checks, going out after work, attending meetings, and all work-related stuff I was desperate to experience.
My first job was not the one I originally wanted.
In the first few months after graduating, I only aimed for multinational companies and other well-known businesses. I also got invitations for interview from international firms that were looking for talents who graduated from the top universities. However, I did not get a job offer from any of them.
By mid-July 2012, I started to despair. I got tired of being at home doing nothing but checking my emails for possible correspondences from recruiters and sending applications to companies. I just wanted to work almost anywhere (I avoided call centers and retail), so I became less picky about the role and the employer. On September 2012, I finally got my first job as a web copywriter for a US e-commerce company with high pay for an entry-level job as well as cool perks.
Even though things did not go as I originally planned, I was grateful for accepting that job offer. I got to experience the silly work-related things my classmates in uni posted on Facebook. I even gained new friends (one of which I am still good friends with until today). However, this employment bliss did not last long, but I’m saving that story for another day.