Updates on my first week at work

Hello! My mind is alert but my body is so tired that while painting flowers just now, I dipped my paintbrush into my cup containing carrot juice and not the water container. I am going to do a post on gratitude and then sleep, because I really need sleep.

TL;DR: Work life balance so far has been great. Looking forward to dragon boating! People at work are incredibly nice to me so far.

I haven’t read an in-depth post about work so far. Everyone just seems to update on the interesting and happy things in their lives on social media, but no one talks about the uncertainty and how proactive one needs to be when one is starting out on her career. I’m going to use ‘her’ because I am feeling very female at the moment.

The first week is important because it sets the tone for how I am going to treat other people in the next few years. Thanks to my internship with the start-up, I am able to talk to new people everyday without feeling tired. Thanks to my two years of HR training, I am able to assess the personalities of people really quickly, their working styles, their interests, what kind of chiong-ster they are. My EQ is still quite low but hey we are all born different, at least I can talk to strangers and form a connection much faster than what I was comfortable with a year ago. Thanks to the civil service internship, I am much better able to cope with a deluge of resources which are not properly catalogued and an ambiguous timeline. “These things are your becoming”, I can finally understand that quote now.

Everything has been great so far, especially with the mantra that JY taught me- ‘a wise man once said that with no expectations, there will be no disappointments’, while maintaining high standards of performance. Consulting is strange because firstly, my firm is not the best-known consulting firm. It is a Big 4 that acquired another practice, which means that there is a huge gap between what they brand themselves as and where they want to be. I chose K. because I wanted work life balance, and I could not see myself having WLB in the more well-known firms like PWC or McK. Standards are lower, hours are shorter, people are friendlier.

The people are really friendly- I shall write their initials here so I will not forget those who have helped me. I am the only new associate in the whole unit, even though my unit is the biggest unit in the consulting arm of the firm. Which also means that I have to self-invite myself for lunches sometimes with associates from the other units and thankfully, I have managed to make friends (not superficial “hi”, “bye” ones) who ask me out, so I don’t feel like I’m gatecrashing. Maybe I am too sensitive to such things haha. I like to think that one of my plus points is that I am not only really straightforward, I also don’t bear grudges, neither do I remember negative things about other people. And I can brush things off easily, plus I don’t ‘feel‘ things as badly as some of my more sensitive friends. (Did not cry at Wonderwoman.) Ironically the table that I was assigned to on my first day, I totally can’t click with that team, and so I randomly chose another table for lunch. A good move because my seat mate turned out to be one of the nicest guys in my batch haha.

On people and gratitude:

Meeting G (turned out to be a super sweet guy who did the excel workshop for the new associates), I like him because with the exception of sunshine boy back in NTU, I think he has the best temper out of all the guys I know. He’s both calm and humorous. Wish I could be genuinely calm like him. An. told me that she thinks I’m really calm, but internally I was freaking out because I really don’t like oral presentations. I wanted to tell her that I can show a calm exterior because I have been through enough to know how to control my external appearance. Internally a whirlpool, externally a puddle of still water.

C- invited me to dragonboating, he’s a really chillax guy. I like his style of texting. Some people text really formally or they overload with emoticons, he’s just exactly as he is in real life.

HL, who spoke to me about C during lunch, that’s how I started talking to C- such coincidences are really nice haha.

SX, my first friend ever in the company, who stayed back to help me with the training practice. I am glad that I did the research project on my internship, that’s how I got to know SX.

Meeting my teammates: C and P, also during the welcome lunch. I don’t know them well yet but I have heard good things about them.

Ed, my straightforward and kind of funny boss who doesn’t hold back his opinions, which is really great. During my first performance conversation with him he gave me a quick run-through of all the personalities in the team, and it was definitely helpful. I love straightforward people who are able to help me navigate political minefields and have a similar learning/growth mindset.

E, my buddy, who guides me daily because everything to me is new, and shares with me almost everything- free notebooks, free coffee, tips on what to do, what are the possible things I can volunteer for. As Ed puts it, E is the best buddy that one can ask for.

JK, and K, both have really good EQ- you know the sort of people you can just talk to and feel comfortable with them immediately? Both are cute and non-judgemental, I shall stop lusting over boys HAHAH.

The interns who brought me around on my second day to the food market, shared with me their tips on doing things and which places have good coffee etc- B (I sometimes can’t recognise him without his glasses so it helps that he always says hi first), S (who invited me for lunch even though he didn’t know me at all, the firm has a hotdesking policy so it’s easy to make friends), Be (I’ll always remember him as ‘the guy I queued with for fish soup noodles for forty minutes’), Sh (who challenged me to pronounce his south-indian name correctly after one week).

And random people who are my newfound lunch buddies- V, E. Both non-singaporeans, both are highly educated and next to them I feel a bit…”oh man I should read more”. Common interests with V, he also likes Margaret Atwood!

And more lunch buddies today: An (who brought me around, discovered that we are both equal champions of WLB HAHAH), A (he’s really sweet, although we both suck at client templates so sitting next to each other is just ‘blind leading the blind’, but at least we are blur together), Ai and Lin (who keeps making jokes about how I’m from China- do I really look authentically chinese sigh).

I met a lot of other people- other bosses, and other lunch buddies but frankly I am only comfortable with about 30% of the people I’ve met so far. The ones whom I’ve listed above- those are the people I would like to build relationships with. Which is fine by me, my goal is not to run for some networking contest but to know that if I need help and support, there are people whom I know are sincere and kind with their words, and are also encouraging. I do speak up so people do know me, plus I am not shy- I speak to people around me and at the lift lobby, but that’s a little dependent on my mood, so I wouldn’t want to rely on the more superficial connections.

I stand by what I said- I am not at a Big 4 to climb up the career ladder and spend all my time at work, I just want the experience of working with multiple clients, I want to apply my usual high standards, and I want to learn without playing politics. Standards, WLB, and not wild ambition.

Becoming is better than being. – Carol Dweck

Goals for the next 3-6 months at work:

  • To apply what I have learned:
    • Presentation skills
    • Excel
    • Powerpoint skills
    • Learn how to structure deliverables for clients
    • Data analytics
    • Build strong relationships with team mates, department mates, and company colleagues
  • Continue to be my usual independent but inclusive self, to not leave other people out just because we are from different teams/have different working styles.
  • A kinder heart- to myself, and to other people.
  • To continue to be willing to work at the small things- I am practising my bowl-cleaning skills for children’s church. It’s quite funny, some kids eat Cheerios really quickly, and some like to chew on it before taking it out…and then offering it to me. HAHA. “Daryl I can see your saliva on this.”  Kids are really cute 🙂
  • To not burn out with my different hobbies/commitments. I prepare for things in advance and I am glad that I committed to a DG/children’s church before I started work. I know that I can’t do everything at the same time, but I also know that I can try, and with patience and perseverance I’ll be able to get to where I want to be. I know that my bosses have a high opinion of me- I was told that T. gave a strong recommendation for me, which might have been a reason why I’m the only new associate for this batch even though they have quota issues. I can only hope that I will live up to her expectations and that I will not be another ‘strawberry millennial’.