So, I want to share my own experience and my explanation on what I come to value most in people, especially if I am considering them to fight a war with me – their desire and their faith.
I start with Part 1 which is my story and Part 2 which I explain more on desire and faith, especially when people show me the opposite of them.
In 1999, when I went to the interview for my first job, I did not do the normal preparation like going through some common interview questions and rehearsing how to answer them well. It was not because I was very confident to get the job. On the contrary, I was just a Diploma holder and during that time, the 1997 recession caused the job opportunities to be scarce, especially for fresh graduates. And this job, which I heard, was paying quite well, around three hundreds more than other jobs I have tried and what my other college mates were getting.
I wanted the job very much, not just the additional three hundreds, though at that time, it made a lot of differences to me. The three hundreds can give me all the food I need in a month. (At that time, I remembered my heart aching over a 5-or-10-ringgit meal, which I only indulged once in a while. My meal is usually 3 ringgit, 4 ringgit if I ordered drinks). I needed this job because it was a key step for my plan to pursue my Degree on part-time basis. My parents had offered to let me do Degree full-time using their hard-earned money, which my course fees and living expenses will be equivalent to the salary of my father, if not more. Knowing all that, I insisted on pursuing my education on part-time basis. I had a definite plan and knew very well what I wanted to achieve, which included to get to work as soon as possible so that I could get as much working experience as possible. I figured working experience is more valuable than a piece of certificate.
So, I was very determined to get a job. Not just any job, but a job that allow me to pay my courses as well as my living expenses. Also, a job that allow me to learn new things and also maybe help me in my Degree final year project. Since I was in Computer Science course, my final year project involved creating a workable application by going through a well-documented software development cycle. What would be better than to take from something I would be learning at work?
I was lucky also as I had a senior working in the same company and the interviewer, also my potential superior, was my senior’s superior. So, he was able to put in some good words for me to get me the interview opportunity. But, job is a job; I still need to prove myself to the interviewer to get hired.
Amazingly, I just know how to convince the interviewer to give me the job. And that did not require me to answer the common interview questions well, except how to describe myself. I already have some sort of plan in life – my desire to excel in life, to get ahead of most people and my faith that I am able to achieve anything I desire, even without knowing exactly how to get there. Thus, despite my lack of working experience, which was none – what I just needed to do in the interview was to show myself by conveying my desires and faith.
So, I sat through the interview, without much preparation per Se, as I already prepared for the life ahead of me.
I talked about my keen interest in programming and what the job can offer to me, especially learning to work in real environment and building software that are really being used by people in real business life.
I talked about my plan to pursue my Degree on part-time basis. I know I can use my working experience to do better in my Degree study.
I highlighted my great track record of excellent academic result; I was mostly top of my class, sometimes even the whole batch of students in the same year; that means I was ahead of more than 300 others. It showed I was consistently working hard to achieve great results.
I convinced the interviewer that I could handle both my work and studies without compromising the work performance. In fact, I have every intention to excel in both my work and studies.
At the end of the interview, which I remembered vividly even now, I looked at the interviewer earnestly and said to him I am a very hardworking person. I said it with full conviction and sincerity. I remembered the interviewer smiled at me in response, maybe because of surprise or because of awkwardness of my unsolicited remark, but I knew he believed what I have just said and that would have made an impact.
Yes, I got the job, with a starting paid of RM1500, a good rate for a Diploma holder at that time. The offer for Degree holder from my company was RM1800. In the next seven years, in 2006, a degree holder freshmen can get up to RM 2,500 for starting paid; some can get even higher than that from a minority of great companies. However, I also knew some other graduates were still getting RM1800 in 2006. So, when people ask me what is the market price for fresh graduates in software engineering field, I usually answer, it is largely determined by what the applicants are asking for and how they ‘carry’ themselves. By carry, I really mean how strong are their desire and faith and whether they show it during the interview.
To many, this story of mine cannot be considered a great achievement. But for a girl with no working experience, came out from hometown to study in the big city 2 years before, the same girl who traveled more than 80 km to class each time by bus (I lived in a housing estate in Klang with my aunt’s family, traveled to KL Central for classes by 2 buses per trip –one air-conditioned and one without), sometimes had to get out from house as early as 5 am, walked through a sport field (badminton, jogging) when the morning was still dark to wait for bus if there were early morning classes; this achievement is a great mark in my life; that all the sweats, persistence, the fear of unknown or danger were well justified. I had proven to myself and to those who invested in me, especially my parents. Because for the 2 years of studies, when most of my classmates have settled down comfortably at home, probably after some nice baths and dinners and were probably watching their favorite TV drama, I was usually still on a bus on my way home. On top of that, I even worked as the college librarian to earn extra bucks. So, I spent longer hours in college than most people.
The fact is I still have a long way to go, to achieve my ultimate dreams. But it will be very soon that I will get there. Then, I will start telling another story of my desires and faith that get me there.
Till then, wait for Part 2 where I will continue on desires and faith. Or maybe, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story of desire and faith.
Photo courtesy of http://g8.no/