My Advice to the 22 year old me.

April 8, 2017

Hello Philip,

Its me, the 34 year old you. You are about to graduate in two weeks. Finally, you will be able to march at the Film Center. You will march with Papa and Mama since you are graduating with honors. I know the joy you felt when you got a 1.75 in Humanities 2. It was the happiest moment of your life then. I know how you worked hard just to get that medal. You felt that you can conquer the world because you are from UP and you will graduate with honors. But wait, stop and read first, and I’ll share you some advice.

  1. Graduating with honors will not define who you are. Three years, Five years after graduation, companies will no longer look if you graduated with honors or not. Companies will also not care about your extra curricular activities, even if you became the leader of the SUMS-UP’s Prime Council. They will not care even if you placed in the Annual Search for the Math Wizard. You know what they care about?
    1. They will look at how you work with your team. Do you listen to them? Do you command them? Do you take over when its needed?
    2. They care about loyalty. How loyal are you to your company? Do you have long time plans there or you just want to learn something (or earn something) and then move to other places. They reward loyalty.
    3. Your work ethics is important. Are you able to accomplish the job on time? Do you put in extra work just to improve your output? Are you willing to skip a vacation because the company needs you? Do you love your work?
  2. In my case, I never worked full time in the industry. I stayed in the academe yet I continuously work with people from outside the Academe. Unlike in the industry where working inside a cohesive structure is required, life as a freelancer is quite different. But just the same, being Cum Laude does not count much.
    1. Relationships matter…and they matter a lot. Working as a freelancer means you have to work with your clients directly. You talk to them and you produce what they need. And since you talk with the client, building a relationship with them is important. I will never forget the first person who hired me as a financial analyst, because of the good relationship I was able to build with her, it opened to millions of other opportunities. Its your relationship with people that will define your success.
    2. Money does not matter that much. Of course, you work for the money that you will earn. But people don’t want to work with freelancers who always talk about money. Being a freelancer means you dictate your own price. Personally, even if I know how much I should charge a client, I don’t charge the client beyond what I feel is an equitable amount. If I am happy with the amount I receive then I keep it that way, even if I know that I can earn higher. I sometimes work for free. Why? Again because relationships matter.
    3. Treat your current project as your last project. We will never know if there will be a new project. You must be prepared if no project comes your way. There should be Plan B.
  3. Grab every opportunity. Literally.
    1. An opportunity came for me to work as a software developer for a German firm. I don’t know how to program then but I grabbed it.
    2. A friend told me that there was an opening for faculty at DCS. I don’t know anything about Computer Science except for programming, yet its my lifelong dream to teach so I grabbed the opportunity.
    3. An opportunity to develop a financial model came. I don’t know how to do a model but I accepted the job anyways.
    4. An opportunity to develop a web application came. I don’t know of any framework, nor do I know php or sql, but I took the job. The project failed badly. I was not paid. But I learned, and I learned a lot.
    5. An opportunity came to lead a team in implementing an ESB. I don’t understand a lot of the terms in the TOR, but I still said yes.Sometimes, I know that I can be blamed for grabbing anything that comes my way. I accept any opportunity even if I don’t know where it will lead me. For me, an opportunity is always a chance for me to learn. Sometimes the outcome may not be good, but what is important is that you learned.
  4. Don’t plan for your life. But don’t lose sight of your dreams. I know that right now you want to be an actuary. Your Math 17 professor told you that actuaries receive a 6 digit salary. And that is enough reason to go for it. You will plan for it. You took electives related to it. You will enroll in the Masters in Actuary program. But that is not your dream. Your dream is to teach.You know what? What you planned for didn’t happen. But you were able to fulfill your dreams. And between having failed plans or fulfilled dreams. Choose the latter…ALWAYS.
  5. Don’t mind it if you fail your first job interview. A better job awaits you.
  6. Don’t be in a hurry with your life.
  7. Teaching rocks. Students will hate you. But some will love you, and they are the ones who matter.
  8. Don’t worry about love. It will come at the right time.

Just so that you’ll know, the 34 year old you still have not figured out what life will bring. Tsambahan pa din. Just keep on dreaming.

34 year old you.