Fresh Grads Forced to Lower Career Expectations? Follow These 5 Tips to Get Ahead of the Competition
The TL;DR version can be summarised in one word - Pivot.
Fresh Grads Forced to Lower Career Expectations.
Many graduates can't get jobs. This has been a year on year topic and I even wrote an article on this a few years back. Situation is not getting better and expectations have not changed. Graduates come out to the work force feeling disgruntled even before they started working. Parents and educators are still feeding them the same song and dance people from my parents generation fed me.
Study hard. Get your A's. Get your cert. Get a job.
Fresh Grads will tell you that's BS of the highest order. It has not worked for the last decade and statistics show the situation getting worse year on year.
If you stop for a second and consider who you are in life, you might want to question why is it that you are defined by your job. Is that who you really are?
I don't know about you, but that thought depresses me. Here's where I want to offer an alternative point of view that worked for me.
What if... What If, you start looking at your life from a broader perspective. What are your interests? What are you good at? How can you combine that with what you graduated in to value add to yourself or the company you work for?
For example. Let's say you have a degree in HR. You go out looking for a job to be part of the corporate machinery and offer to do just about whatever it is the other 1000 graduates are offering. Why you?
And don't get upset when companies say they want people with experience. They are there to make money, not to pay you to babysit you.
So if this situation upsets you, and you're googling around for solutions, I'm going to make you an offer you can't refuse.
I suggest the following Alpha Mind upgrades to your life:
1. Start working before graduation. Start mini projects as you are studying. Have a blog, build your linkedIn profile, have some live works that you can show off to the world. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just have to exist.
2. Execution is key. Your ideas are less useful than doorknobs in the real world. Got an idea? Don't wait till you get a job before _trying_ to execute it. Just have a go at it. See where that takes you. While you still have your creativity and haven't been hammered to jadedness by the harsh realities of bills and taxes. You might even build a following that would come in handy when you start embarking on your career. Never underestimate the value of your network.
3. Failure is crucial. In school and throughout all your life, you have been told not to fail. Then all of a sudden, you hear fluffy talks by motivational speakers that failure is vital to your success. WTF?! Yeah. I get it. I've been down that road. It can get very annoying when the old farts contradict themselves. I'm not gonna feed you lines from motivational posters. Instead, I'm gonna ask that you allow yourself the freedom to explore and experiment. Don't aim for perfection, aim for creation.
4. Don't get railroaded into what you think you _must_ do. Many successful entrepreneurs or employees will tell you that their initial game plan looked nothing like the career they have now. Planning is good but don't get anchored down by a plan if it isn't effective. But that's not to say that you should be flaky about your ideas either. Jumping to a new plan every few weeks. In fact you should actually...
5. Iterate your ideas as opposed to giving up on them altogether. A great idea sounds good in your head but may not necessarily turn out as planned the first time you execute them. Work out the kinks. Keep at it. Give yourself time to bring the idea to life instead of just dumping it for a "better" idea when the next trend comes along.
If you approach your work-life with these 5 Alpha Mind tips, you will begin to grow as an individual and see the bigger picture of where you want to be career wise. You will have an edge over your peers and you won't be stuck in a rut waiting for opportunities to fall into your lap.
And if you just flip over to the very next page of Today, you would see an article about a startup idea that is so simple, you would ask yourself - why didn’t I think of that? Mr. Khoo Kar Kiat, 33 worked for 8 years at EDB - a stable government job - but isn’t afraid to come up and try something new that maybe outside his comfort zone, yet not outside his skillset. That right there is a very elegant pivot.
I wish you all the best! Share this message if you think this will help others. Leave me a message after trying this out and let me know if it has improved your life.
I'm gonna be giving a talk about pivoting on Monday morning (7th August 2017) on 938Live alongside Singapore Hustler, Jonathan Chew.
One of the questions that I imagine would come up as a possible topic to prep for is: what can the listener do today if he or she wants to start adopting a pivot mindset?
The short answer is: 'You just have got to do it'.
That's of course easier said than done. Which is why most motivational messages annoy the hell out of me. They provide a feel good statement but not the steps required to get there. A mindset change is never easy and most of us require a near catastrophic experience before we are able to make a switch.
Willingness to change and the readiness to change are quite far apart.
For example: I'm willing to workout, and I would try my darnest best, but it might not be until the doctor gives me an ultimatum to keep fit or die within 3 months that tips me over the edge of readiness.
Many of us aren't desperate enough to make a change in our lives.
The concept of a pivot is a very simple one. It is about not being too fixated on what you think you know best and being able to look at other opportunities and improve your current position in life. It's commonly used in business but it's a mindset that is useful in just about every aspect of life.
Maybe you're an employee right now who is fixated on your role in the industry because that's what you graduated in or because it's a job you have been in all your life. You could employ the pivot mindset and start seeing yourself as more than just the definition of a job. You're more than that. You have interests, skillsets, experiences. Look at what else you can do beyond what you are already comfortably doing.
Pivoting doesn't have to be monumental but the harsh truth is that it is only when we have hit rock bottom desperation point, and pivoting becomes the only option left for us, that we begin to develop resilience and an appreciation for change.
So how can a person adopt a pivot mindset you ask?
Try failing. Fail so hard that the only way you can pick yourself back up is to pivot.
If you aren't into such drastic measures, tune in to 938 live Monday morning at 9am, where Jonathan Chew and I will dish out useful tips, baby steps, you can use to improve your life.
Hearing about the complaints students have today about the lack of place to study, made me think back upon the days when I was a student. I took a trip down to Changi Airport Terminal 1, where I used to spend many weekends studying (and making out), to record this public service announcement for those struggling with the comforts of their home.
Back in my time, if we needed to go out of our homes to study, the airport was the place to go. During exam time, you can see the students sprawled along the viewing gallery mugging for exams.
There's aircon; it's free; And best of all, we don't hog the place denying others of its rightful use. And when we screw up our results or don't deliver our projects on time, we only have ourselves to blame.
This is a public service announcement by the Alpha Mind saying, Don't Be Inconsiderate. Don't make your problem, ours.
Good luck for your exams, boys and girls.
#DontKaoPei #GoAirportStudy #FreeAircon #FreeWifi #DontBeInconsiderate #FirstWorldProblems
“If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make it sound?” is a philosophical statement that challenges what we perceive as reality.
If a tree exists outside of your perception then there is no way for you to know that the tree exists, regardless if reality can prove otherwise later on. For you, at least, at that point in time, the existence of the tree is questionable, and for the skeptics, even seeing the tree might not be evident enough for them to believe.
People believe what they want to believe.
The sooner you come to terms with that, the easier it is to let go of grievances. Grievances, over time, turn to bitterness, and if that sentiment persists, depression sets in; resignation; hopelessness.
If you’re going through any of these stages right now, my advice is: cut your losses. Bail out. The person who you are bitter about isn’t going to show you an ounce of sympathy for your downward spiral. If anything at all, he or she might think you more of a loser.
A surprise visit by an old friend sharing about his predicament caused me to think back upon the many encounters I have heard of people being taken for granted. My own, I have plenty to share.
If people around you can’t see the value of the things you do for them, are your efforts real? It makes you start to question yourself. You start thinking maybe you haven’t done enough. In the case of my friend, he was made to feel like he was being a selfish asshole for even bringing up the things that upset him because his lack of happiness is an insult to the sadness she’s feeling. Go figure that one out.
I don’t know her and I won’t assume that her problems are any less important than his. Everything boils down to perspective.
I look back upon my own past and wondered where the bitterness was when I was in such a situation? I vaguely remembered the feeling of hatred brewing from deep within but somehow I was fortunate enough to let it go quickly. I say fortunate because I’m able to turn my emotions on and off like a switch. Most people can’t and that is what drives them nuts. They don’t need you telling them what to do. They need you to tell the how to do it.
And this is where I try to deconstruct how it works for me and maybe it might help trigger something for you.
First of all, I don’t believe in unconditional love. That alone is probably the biggest circuit breaker I have when dealing with people who I perceive as taking me for granted. I’m happing to give 100% upfront, no questions asked. I expect gratitude to be shown in one way or another, preferably by actions (favour for favour), if not, cold hard cash, some time in the future. Your ‘Thank You’s are a consolation but in bulk they are as valuable as the spiel about “working to build your portfolio”. My time is precious. So is yours. If I want to do things for you it’s because I want to and it’s from my giving heart. The special promotion ends once you start expecting it as a norm.
Two, know your self-worth. Toxic people have a way making you feel inadequate and that it’s all your fault. Usually you won’t be able to see this as a problem until you’re out of it. Hindsight being 20/20. So how do you know if you are really worthy of something or it’s just you suffering from delusions of grandeur? Options. A person with options isn’t as likely to stand for such abuse as one who thinks he or she can’t do better. So if you’re a giver, go out there and do great things. At least when your integrity and efforts are called into question, you have other areas of life to draw a more balanced assessment of your worth. Your parter and you may have a misaligned expectations but at least you can handle the negotiation with better judgment.
In some cases, the situation isn’t as easy to resolve as making a clear-cut distinction to let go. Matters with the family, for example. It can get pretty tricky because you can’t cut ties (or at least I don’t advise that) or convince the other person by way of logical argument. If you can’t cut ties, and you’re all spent, the only option is to pull back and stop making any effort. You need the space to heal and the other person needs to know what he or she is missing out. And if after all is said and done, and the other person barely felt the absence of your effort, then you ought to relook at what it is that you’re giving. That may be something that’s valuable to you but in all sincerity isn’t as valuable to anyone else. Just because you like what you are selling, doesn’t means others have to agree with you, and that realisation is often the hardest pill to swallow. That truly the tree which fell on an uninhabited island is doomed to die a lonely non-existential life.
Photo Credit: Jason Lee, Facebook
Having been on both sides of the concert fence, it’s hard to enjoy a concert these days without trying to figure out how things work behind the scenes. Here’s my semi-expert take on the ground situation that day.
The performance was excellent in the way that only an old school fan can appreciate. The few seconds of sound glitch during one of Slash’s solo was not an issue as most of us already have the riffs in our head and happy to fill in the gaps. The boys were pudgy and more subdued than their younger selves, but so are we – the concertgoers, who grew up in an era where music was angry and songs weren’t all about bitches and blings. An era where torn jeans were cool and bandana was the rebellious reincarnation of the proper gentlemen’s handkerchief.
If you were there purely for the music, you would have enjoyed the show and probably walked away not knowing that there were thousands of angry fans behind you who spent the entire show queuing up for food and drinks that they may never get.
So what went wrong? Under budget and underestimation.
Guns & Roses, Not In This Life Time concert. You don’t have to be an industry expert to know that this is going to be costly. At 50,000 capacity, this is the largest concert turnout Singapore has ever seen but not large enough to make a decent profit without raising ticket prices to ridiculous amounts and lose audience in the process. Rock and a hard place.
So what can LAMC do? Slash on operational cost, and most times, this means manpower gets cut.
The venue is huge enough to easily accommodate the turnout but they weren’t effectively utilised. Whoever in-charge of the front of house had expected a gradual flow of traffic and did not account of sudden influx an hour before show time. Middle-aged concertgoers aren’t as free with their schedule as their younger counterparts who are known for camping overnight for concerts.
Having more staff stationed at entrance points, accompanied by security personnel will help. Double the headcount, maybe even triple it. Security can be costly but these guys are trained to manage crowd and aggression. When things get heated up, a trained personnel is worth more than ten underpaid teenagers. I don’t remember seeing many of them around the place.
The next point is a no-brainer. It’s a rock concert; expect people to want to drink. LAMC could easily have covered the cost of bar overheads with drink sales. Maybe they under estimated the spending power of their customers. An event at Fort Canning Green with half the turnout has just as many F&B point as they had at the GNR concert. I don’t think this is the result of cost cutting. I’m guessing the planner is a non-drinker and this is an oversight.
The traffic issue is not directly LAMC’s fault. That’s just part of the venue’s limitation. What they could have done is hire more buses. Again, whoever planned this, did not scale up the resource to fit the turnout. What concertgoers could have done too is to come earlier and not waltz in an hour before show and expect the red carpet treatment.
Besides purely hiring headcount, LAMC needed a kick-ass manager to pull it all together who can work extremely calm under pressure. Perhaps, even have an experienced team of regular freelancers who knows exactly how to improvise solutions without needing clearance all the time. A good team is not easy to put together primarily because work for concert isn't regular and people rely on their better paying jobs for survival. So concert promoters end up hiring young, cheap labour to fill the gaps.
P.S. I did not pee in the cups. I queued for the toilet. You can read my personal experience of the concert here.
Photo credit: Tim Oh, Facebook post
I arrived around 5.30pm at the Changi Exhibition Centre and made my way to the back of the queue for Pen A (I drew out the floor plan for your reference here). It took me about 30 minutes to get to the first checkpoint and a couple of minutes to get our tickets scanned and RFID synced. The three pairs of gatekeepers were doing a good job keeping the momentum going but they were impeded by the speed at which their device can process. By then the crowd had already snaked back twice as long than when I first joined the line. It’s less than two hours to show time. I was beginning to sense things were about to get massively ugly.
I shuffled along the metal barricades to the Bag Check point. The wait was shorter here. A combination of well-behaved concertgoers and effective security detail helped eased the flow, but that was a delicate balance. All it takes is for a handful of defiant pricks to argue about their rights to bring in a beach chair and this system will become another chokepoint.
To ease the hassle of payment, LAMC introduced the RFID cashless payment system where concertgoers can join yet another hour long queue to top up a non-refundable cash value of any amount into their RFID tag. If you’re intending to use credit card to make the payment, expect to wait thrice as long. There were three counters that accept cash and only one for credit cards.
Now that we were e-cash loaded, it's time to queue for drinks. It was 7.30 by the time I got two pints of beer and the queue situation had reached a worrying levels. I felt sorry for those in queue but more relief that I wasn't one of them, so I sipped on my beer and made my way to the outdoor area of Pen A.
Wolfmother, the pre-show band, ended their set just as I finished my two pints, clearing the stage for the main act slated to start at exactly at 8pm. I excuse-me’d my way towards one of the only two drink stations in this Pen and - by golly-mother-of-god - the queue in the Pen was twice as long as the ones in the exhibition hall, snaking all the way back towards the back threatening to spill over into Pen B.
“Screw this,” I thought to myself. “I'm going to try my luck with the queue in the Exhibition Hall”
I dashed into the hall and that’s when I realized situation has gone full FUBA. It looked like a scene out of a zombie apocalypse movie.
There were more people in the hall than there were in the Pen. All queues had exploded out of control snaking across the hall creating a human bulwark against kancheong latecomers who needed to get from bag check station to the outdoor Pen in the shortest possible time. All around, people were losing temper for a variety of reasons. One guy was yelling at his friend over the phone, and from what I gathered, the friend was still stuck in the shuttle bus.
I had two options. Screw the drinks, forget the money, or run back into the Pen and join the other queue. I needed a head-start away from this chaos before it reaches the Pen.
That’s when GNR started playing, and that’s when people started running, and that’s when pandemonium ensued. There was no way the gatekeeper could hold us back to check the validity of our tags. All hell broke lose. By the time I got back to the Pen, there was only a semblance of a queue. It’s just a mob of people that differentiated themselves from those not in queue by the pissed off looks on their faces.
I waited in line for two hours. When it finally got to my turn, the crowd was chanting 'encore'. I couldn’t really see what was going on, and hadn’t been able to for the past half hour, because I was blocked by the drink tent.
The poor sod in front of me almost broke down when he was told that his RFID tag did not come with pre-loaded cash even if he felt that 300 bucks for a ticket should at least cover a house pour. I almost felt sorry for him. I wanted to offer his date a drink but I thought that would just embarrass him further so I kept it all for myself.
I’m glad they had a 30 minutes encore set. I made it a point to down one pint for every song, to catch up on lost time. By the time the band got to Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, I was singing my lungs out and in a largely forgiving mood.
The show ended, my beer was almost done, and I needed to pee, only to discover that the toilet queue would cost me another 2 hours wait. I looked at the empty plastic cups lying by my feet… whence it came, it must return.
You can read my semi-expert take on The GNR Concert F*ck Up: What Went On Behind The Scenes here.
A friend texted me this: "Why aren't you pissed that you spent 2 hours of a 2.5 hour concert queueing for beer? I would be livid! Why aren't you?"
What good does it do? Spoil my own fun and further devalue the 300 I spent because I chose to let the situation dictate how I feel? Being pissed doesn't change anything. I ended up singing along with others in the queue and making new friends.
There’s going to be a 30% increase in the price of water and as a nation we find ourselves complaining. The complaining itself is not surprising as it’s something that has become a favourite national pastime.
The point of contention was this particular line “In response, Ms Indranee said that it all comes back to how people can increase their incomes, and how the revenue that comes into the household can be increased so “all the other things” can be managed.”
The speaker was Senior Minister of State of Finance, Indranee Rajah, in an interview on 938 Live. The uproar on social media poured in shortly after. If you haven’t had the chance to read the comments, let me just sum it up for you: MP talks smack again and is not worth her pay.
I’m no fan of politics and I have no cosy affiliations with the PAP. This article explores the topic of increasing your income to, at least, match the cost of living.
Here’s where I come in. This topic is very close to my heart. When the going gets tough, you can either whine about it or you could rise to the challenge.
Rising cost of living, inflation, depression, unaffordability, are perennial complaints. My dad talks about it, people my age talk about it, and I’m pretty darn sure by the time my kid comes of age to start paying his own bills, prices of resale flats in Pasir Ris will cross the million dollar mark, and he’s going to be talking about it. But that’s really part and parcel of life.
What have we been taught all our lives? Exams are hard, so study harder. Jobs are hard to get, so take the next step and upgrade yourselves. Want to find love but not getting the attention you want? Clean yourself up and shape up. So, why is this topic about increasing your salary to match the rising cost a big deal? What were you expecting?
We don’t need an MP to tell us this. We should already know this very clearly and if we hadn’t already done it maybe it’s time we should start looking at how we can increase our income to beat the rising cost. If the financial analysts and the people who are paid to forecast our economic climate are to believed, the 30% increase in water price is the least of our concern.
BUT I am not without empathy. To say “lets get more money” is easy when you aren’t working a minimal wage job in a company that intends to pay you as little as possible, keep you perpetually in poverty, so that you are powerless to leave. I feel you.
That’s where the real problem lies – Salary is not matching cost of living and people are unhappy. Understandably so, because salaried workers don’t have the time nor the skillset that allow them to earn beyond their day jobs; and for a highly paid government servant, who is supposed to speak out for the people, dropping lines like that will of course get you some less-than-friendly backlash.
I’m no politician and I’ve got real solid practical, grounded advice that you can use.
First, let’s look at the facts:
Fact 1: The problems are NOT going to change or go away.
Fact 2: Unless YOU change, the problems will persist.
Fact 3: If your job doesn’t give you an annual pay increment that surpasses inflation, you’re going to be poor all your life.
Fact 4: No one is going to help you. The financial aids are not handouts, and those that are, are meant for the extremely poor. You middle income peeps are the new poor that no one cares about.
Fact 5: You’re still going to whine about next increase in pricing whatever that may be.
Fact 6: You need another source of income if the current one is not within your control. Have you heard that the government is giving you 500 bucks to pay for courses to upgrade your skills? Have you used it yet? When’s the last time you picked up a new skill either for hobby or for work?
Fact 7: No one gives a shit about your complaints. Apparently 70% of those have voted against you in the last election. So…. What’s it gonna be, hombre? Die whining clutching your keyboard or make a change, today?
These are some practical steps that should help you break out of your minimal wage cycle.
Step 1. Reassess your skillsets. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing?
Step 2. Convert some of your free time into productive money-making time. It doesn’t have to be much. Earning even 300 dollars more a month giving tuition or swimming lessons is worth something.
Step 3. Convert negative mindset into positive ones. Channel the time spent on complaining into looking for opportunities. Nobody likes to work with a whiner. So take that time to go network. Talk to people. Spread your name around. There is NO guarantee of success BUT whatever you do is better than being a keyboard warrior. Unless getting Facebook LIKEs gets you paid.
Step 4. Find like-minded people who can help you. Talk to me. Talk to someone positive. Talk to an old friend who is doing better than you. Put ego aside and tell someone you need help. A friend of mine told me this: “you got to let your friends be your friends. Don’t be afraid to ask. You will know who your friends are.” His name is Chester. He is a brilliant writer; go buy his books.
Step 5. See the change. Enjoy the change. Thank me later.
I’m here for you. I’m not your enemy. I don’t get paid for writing this. PAP is not going to give me a commendation letter either. I spent the last hour hammering this out because I want to see my fellow Singaporeans growing stronger together and not sit idly by in hopes for life to hand them a lucky break. Who’s with me?
Your friendly neighbourhood beer drinking kaki,
Eugene Tay | The Alpha Mind
With the firm knowledge that the little me all the way in this tiny dot of an island, that had the audacity to take away 199 jobs meant for US citizens, have absolutely no power to alter the course of any outcome beyond the confines of my own bedroom, I put my phone away and went into a deep meditative state to find solace away from the furore on social media.
I emerged 3 minutes later irritated and distracted. The damn weather was just too hot to meditate. I'm going to make myself a drink. A stiff one. On the rocks.
30mins later, with a slight buzz and imbued with the wisdom of the ascended masters that only a good bottle of Irish's 18 years can bring, I sat at my laptop to document my plans for the future before I forget.
In short, I don't have the time to hate.
However, I have a plan in mind. Instead of wasting energy getting worked up about things beyond my control, I'm going to roll with the blows and react positively to the change. Whoever wins, there's no guarantee of a great future.
Tides will turn for some, and that is a given with a change in any establishment. Lives will change. History will be rewritten. And one other thing is for sure: You whining like a little bitch ain't gonna be worth a dime.
The 2016 US Presidential Election is one of Fear Versus Anger, and Anger won.
People are disgruntled, unhappy, and fed up with the status quo. When you're not enjoying the fruits of your labour but some other perceived upper class schmuck is or when the schmuck allows foreign garbage to come by and steal what you felt was yours, you begin placing your bets on the guy in the trench coat leaning by the alleyway promising you anything you want, at a price. "What's there left to lose?" you say to yourself. "It can't bloody get any worse than this. So if I can't have it, fuck you very much, you can't have it too."
Some folks, still reeling from the shock, are scratching their heads. Why does Trump seem immune to scandals while Clinton's secret emails became a big talking point? In fact, the scandal that was supposed to threaten Trump's presidency eligibility just added to his credibility. Not so much as a presidential candidate but as a fellow human being going against the elite blue-blooded Clinton machinery who, like the line of other politicians have a responsibility in presenting themselves with a flawless image. But history has shown that presidents are not infallible.
Then here comes Trump with all his locker room talk, and a badass reputation as one who can't keep his mouth shut to even hold back damning taxation information that almost did him in. By comparison, Trump reflects our inner demons. He voices out the things we think about but seldom say. He represents the Americans who are closet assholes, bigots; the racists mofos, the outspoken ones who had their voices taken from them; the ones who are tired with fairness and equality and of feminist power and racial rights and all the other rights-movement shenanigans.
And if we are honest about it, when push comes to shove, and we are pissed as fuck, there's a voice inside all of us that sounds a little like Donald J. Trump. After all, most if not all of us have our displeasure with certain groups. And in a world where freedom of speech is the name of the game and every group feels that they have equal rights, what you're going to get is a whole nation, or world, full of pissed off people. Trump was there to ignite the fuse at the right time. A whole nation full of Red Foremans dying to put their feet up someone's ass.
So economists tried to warn us that with Trump in power, we are going to see America go back 30 years. That is just further bolstering Trump's campaign slogan – Make America great again. Facts and logic don't matter at this point. Screw world economics. The man on the ground cares where the next food on the table is coming from and, right now, their basic Maslow hierarchy of needs is being threatened. People are voting on emotions. The past is viewed with fond nostalgia. The good old days; a time when you work hard and get rewarded fairly. And if Trump can bring that back then he has the vote.
This election has showed us one thing - just because there are rules, they don't always apply. Every once in a while, someone comes along to prove us wrong and turn everything we know on its head. We are left searching for answers and trying to get answers to questions that we are not prepared to accept.
The one lesson I took away from Trump's triumphant battle to the White House is this - don't be afraid of the higher powers who dictate the rules of engagement, don't let people who think you will fail stop you from trying, don't have to please everyone, don't let your past mistakes embarrass you from growing, and more importantly, don't let reality get in the way of your dreams.
Dreams give us hope. And hope is a costly commodity in short supply.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidrow