Sunday, June 18, 2017

10 Tips for Fresh Graduates - The Cold Hard Truth of Workplace

It has been more than 3 years since I started my first full-time job. Now that it is time to leave and move on to a new workplace as part of my career plan, I can't help pondering on the valuable experiences and wonderful knowledge I have acquired throughout my tenure. As I depart, I left behind my work desks, my stationeries, my tasks, my colleagues, but brought along with me the fond memories and relevant skills gained over the years. To commemorate my career progression, here are 10 tips I have come out with which I thought would be useful especially for young fresh recruits.

1. Dress to impress

Just kidding. You don't need to TRY to impress anyone. But you should at least have that signature look that defines who you are. It could be your pink power suit, your little grey dress, your nude suede pump heels, or even your simple tied-up bun. That being said, you should not go overboard with luxury by showing off your material possession. After all, you wouldn't want to be labelled as "the spoilt rich brat who goes to work with her Chanel bag". 

At my previous work place, all the girls (and I mean ALL) carry pretty decent branded bags with the most expensive being YSL and Prada. Then there were some LV, Gucci and Burberry. Sometimes some Michael Kors and Kate Spade. Nobody carries a brandless bag IDK why, probably cause we work at Uptown and we are supposedly "Uptown Girls" wtf. A few months into the job, I decided to get myself a black Saffiano leather working bag from Tory Burch. Not too shabby, not too flashy. It spells professionalism with a hint of elegance. 

Anyway, you shouldn't have to intentionally purchase a designer bag to build an identity. But always make sure to dress well because first impression matters, especially when you are new. 

2. Team work

Screw that boring team work definition they used to teach you in school! Team work is not just about working on assignments together, gathering differing opinions prior to the final decision, making use of each individuals' talents to accomplish a common mission etc. IMO, team work could be about having lunch together as bonding sessions, keeping quiet when your coworkers "accidentally" come in late for work, helping your coworkers with that annoying phone call he refuses to pick up, or heck, even having the "same, certain" kind of opinion on your favourite lady boss. 

Team work is about being within that invisible circle of loyalty. To gain each other's trust that you blend in perfectly as part of the team, that you are not a betrayer, a whistle-blower, a social outcast. Don't be that person who packs lunch to work while everyone else eats out. Because truthfully, lunch time is when the real bonding happens. It is also the time when you discover your mutual love and hatred. 

3. The learning process is different

Always take the initiative to learn. In school, the students' objective is to learn, whereas the lecturers' objective is to teach. But at work, your boss did not hire you to learn, but rather, to complete your task and generate revenue for the organization (or to incur expenses, if you are from the cost centres). Teaching is the last of their priorities, because ain't nobody got time for that. However, when you are new, it is important that you learn as much as possible within your first 2 years. Because after those 2 years, people would really start judging you if you still ask stupid questions. 

But nobody will bother to teach you unless you ask. As you face difficulties, write down immediately, compile your questions and find a suitable opportunities to consult your supervisor/mentor. More often than not there is no perfect time to ask, because they are like so busy the whole damn time! So sometimes you have to be thick skin abit without being too irritating LOL.

After 3.5 years, my mentor still repeats the story of me being an annoying prick asking her questions when she was busy. Sorry lah, cause she was never not busy, so I had no choice XD At least I didn't ask her the same question twice! Make sure to write down everything they teach you on your note and refer back instead of asking them the same thing again. 

4. Persevere

A few months into the job, you may find yourself in a state of confusion thinking whether you have chosen the right path. You would be scared; you would be lost; you would start questioning yourself whether the job suits you (or vice versa), or is there something better out there you have yet to explore. The job would start to appear mundane, and you would stare into your computer screen feeling an everlasting state of emptiness.

Don't be that irresponsible millennial who gives up as soon as you have these thoughts. Instead, give yourself some time and allow yourself to work from different perspectives. Perhaps, try doing certain things differently? Or start picking up new challenges you have never encountered before. TBH, I experienced this during the first few months of my job. I chose to stay on. And it took me quite a few months to "finally see the light at the end of the tunnel". Because before I realized, I have started enjoying my once-seemingly-boring job and I even thought I was good at it. It is not my timid self settling for an imperfect job, but rather, I have discovered the fun within, and the reason I chose this path in the first place.

5. Be prepared for demanding expectations

At 6.30pm, your boss would expect you to stay and wait while he/she checks your work. Because like hello why do you need social life? Work is priority! *eye roll* Regardless whether it was a weekend or public holiday, when you receive a text from your boss, you are expected to reply immediately or risk facing their sarcastic criticisms during the next meeting. Some bosses even expect you to enter the office during weekends (without getting OT pay, obviously). Or deliver work to their house during weekend or public holidays. Or provide them free chauffeur service when their car is sent for repair (to which you should politely suggest them to use Uber or GrabCar instead).

What to do? You can't flip. At least not until the next performance appraisal is over and when you are ready to leave.

6. Forget about sympathy and empathy

One of the culture shock you may experience as you enter the work force is the coldness of society. You know how your friends and family used to console you with words of encouragement during the down period of your life? Like when you fail your exam, when you break up with your boyfriend, when you lost your iPhone, or when your dog dies? Well don't expect the same from your workplace, especially not from your superior. In fact, don't even mention on the calamity that struck you, because then they would start to observe your performance at work. 

Whether or not your boyfriend dumps you is the last thing your boss wants to know. What matters to him/her is whether you can help the team achieve the KPI.

7. Be ready to be tested by superiors on your priorities

There are times when your boss would start testing your priorities to gauge how dedicated you are to the team. This is when you have to think of a bigger picture and start to let go certain things. For example, when your boss is unhappy about you taking a long-week of study leave. Work matters, but your exam is equally important too. How are you going to make your decision? 

That was what happened to me at the early stage of my working days. At that point of time, the fact that I had to compromise was simply ridiculous, because I was merely utilizing my entitlement. On written policy, it was perfectly fine for me to do so, but on the other hand, your boss is the one who reports on your performance evaluation. I was so emotional I even went to the car park and cried wtf (nobody knew this, because why show them your weakness?). In the end, I compromised, cut my leave short and made my boss happy :/

8. Your job is not your entire life

Being dedicated to your job and establishing your career from it is great. But don't overdo it to the extent that it affects your health. Nobody will pity you and appreciate your sacrifice for the company if you ever fall ill from fatigue (which brings us back to point no. 6). If you OT everyday, you certainly do not fall under the best employee category. Your boss would questioning your efficiency, and your colleagues would start hating you for making them look bad. 

Work smart, not work hard. On job, you work smart to achieve the greatest performance with the least effort. Off the job, you maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Remember that your job is not your everything and you do have a life outside work. 

9. Keep your secrets far from work

If you think it is okay to share secrets from your personal life with your work bff, think twice. Dirty secrets spread like wild fire. The next thing you know, colleagues from other branches would all be well-informed of your stories. And while we are at this topic, don't shit where you eat! (not literally) If you fancy an affair, target your prey off the workplace. Don't be known by the whole organization as the shameless cheater, because reputation does matter. 

10. Be careful what you share on social media

Some companies have strict policies against sharing on social media. At my previous organization, we are forbidden from sharing photos from company event especially those bearing their name or logo. Regardless of the occasional email reminder from HR, people still share their photos frequently on Facebook which was super amazeballs because I would never do that to jeopardize my job (but mainly because I don't want people to know where I work la LOL). Still, the fact that others are doing it does not mean that it is acceptable and okay to do so. You never know when you are going to be the unlucky one to be targeted by your HR. Better be safe than to be sorry.

All the best to all young fresh grads who are stepping into the working society! :)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Ramadhan Buffet @ Lemon Garden, Shangri-La Hotel KL

This year, I decided to try out the Ramadhan Buffet at Shangri-La Hotel KL. Haven't visited Lemon Garden after its renovation. And as usual, the place did not disappoint.

It was an International spread which is not just limited to traditional Malay dishes. In fact, there was such a wide variety we didn't even know where to start! 

Our visit was on Friday so there was seafood spread. On Friday and Saturday, it is Festive Seafood Dinner Buffet which is pricier at RM218 nett instead of the usual RM198 nett on other days. But the extra RM20 is definitely worth it if you are a seafood lover (especially if you have thing for oysters!). 

Lemon Garden was crowded! In fact, there were so many reservations that they even extended the tables to the lounge area. 

The main dish that night: Roasted Whole Lamb / Kambing Panggang Berempah.

It was the first dish I took (cause kiasu scared the lamb habis LOL). The lamb was so tender and well-marinated with spices! Served with bryani rice which was equally delicious! Truly enjoyed every single bit of it.

Malay style starters like kerabu salad, salted fish, chicken heart etc which I tried but don't really appreciate T_T I don't even enjoy the conventional kind of salad to begin with.

Healthy corner. No thanks, I'm fine with the unhealthy corners. LOL.

Tandoori chicken.

Chicken satay was nice, but beef satay was a tad bit too hard to chew.

Their fish dishes weren't that impressive. Don't bother. Just stick to ayam, kambing and daging.

Chinese corner which serves roasted chicken and some Chinese style soup. 

I had the old cucumber soup which was surprisingly yummier than most soup I have had. 

Sup kambing was nice too, but could have been better if it were served hotter.

Had the carbonara which was ordinary. Aglio olio was remarkably tasty because of the paste they used. My only complaint was the pasta being overcook. 

Pizza was so so (already 90% full when I had the pizza). 

Desserts corner! 

No matter how full, there's always room for desserts. 

A lot of Raya kuih in conjunction with the festive season.

I barely tried half of the desserts spread. Most of them were not bad. I enjoyed the pink mousse cake the most  for its smooth texture and berry taste (so damn full I wasn't up for anything with flour and dairy by that time). 

Just when we thought it was over, we found out that there were more things at the terrace outside! There were a few more stalls including fruit station, kebab stall and a BBQ corner! 

My stomach cannot take it anymore XD

On a side note, the teh tarik was worth the mention. The first serving was really concentrated and nice and wasn't too sweet at all. But not after they refilled it later on which I found rather bitter. It would be great if they had maintained the consistency.

Overall, the experience was awesome with marvellous standard. The charges were indeed on the high side, but I think it was an annual festive feast well worth the price (once a year okay la, you don't see roasted whole lamb all the time after all :P). 

More info on Shangri-La's Ramadhan buffet:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Chatuchak Weekend Market + Artbox Bangkok

I know there hasn't been much travel post on this blog. Every time I open up my album, I just struggled with the number of photos that need to be edited. Today I'm like fuck it, I'm just gonna go with the default iPhoto auto editor for most of the photos, and perhaps add on vsco filter for a few chosen one. 

February this year, I had a shopping + food trip to Bangkok. We stayed at Centrepoint Hotel, Pratunam which as the name suggests, is located right opposite the Pratunam market area and of walking distance from Platinum Mall.  I needed a hotel which is near from Platinum Mall because I figured most of my shopping would be done there. Besides, there are plenty of eateries around which is convenient for us. Furthermore, Centrepoint is one of the few hotels at that area that comes with bathtub. Always my preference when it comes to picking hotels :P

Our day began with us waking up slightly before noon (actually just me cause damn lazy la LOL). Lazed in bed, watched Nat Geo channel, reluctantly took a shower, lazed in bed more, then packed our bags and headed out. 

Our destination that day was Chatuchak Market. Before that, we had our first meal at the road side vendors around Pratunam area. One does not simply come to Bangkok and eat at the expensive air-conditioned restaurants. The road side is where you find the most authentic tastes of local dishes. 

Thai stewed pork leg which is like everyone's favourite when it comes to Bangkok food (not really for me though cause my favourite is still Tom Yum Kung). 

Look at that! There are 2 types of people in this world: people who would drool at the sight of this; people who would barf in disgust at the sight of this. My mum is definitely the latter. 

Complete your meal with some braised duck eggs. 

Next up, Thai omelette which is another of our favourite. They mix it with scallions and cili padi. It was like the best omelette ever which IMO beats the western omelette that comes with ham, cheese, mushroom etc.

We also had some fried chickens.

Took the BTS to Mo Chit Station to Chatuchak Weekend Market. 

Stumbled upon the Paella man whose fame has been proven online. Many tourists were taking turns to snap photos with him. The atmosphere at the bar was lively. A popular spot among western tourists.

Yum yum street food paradise. Especially for seafood lovers.

We didn't do much shopping there because the clothings are quite repetitive and not as cheap relatively. One of the things I bought was a clutch from one of those customized leather stalls that sell passport holders, land yard, bags etc. 

Coconut ice-cream ^^

Not every stall in Bangkok offers good Thai Iced Tea. But we randomly tried out this particular one which we thought was great. They used proper machine to extract the tea leaves which resulted in highly concentrated extracted tea essence. 

They also sell Thai tea mix in tins.

As dusk falls, we made us of Google map and found our way to Artbox Bangkok. According to sources online, Artbox has ended in March 2017 and would resume in November 2017. Not sure whether it will be at the same location though. 

Saw this sleeping neko on the way to Artbox. Don't you feel artsy already? LOL. 

Not sure whether Artbox Bangkok was overrated or we came at the wrong timing in February when the event was at the end-tier. There wasn't much going on there TBH. Most of the stalls have moved and if you want to do shopping, you better do so in Chatuchak because there were like not more than 20 clothing and accessories stalls here. 

The food stalls were still there though.

It was rather early, but the place was already bustling with people finding their own spots for an open-air picnic. Fortunately, we managed to find our own spot.

Yummy beef cubes.

Mushroom and onion skewers.

Hollow fishballs (keropok lekor kind of texture).

Thai Iced Tea which wasn't as nice compared to the one we had earlier.

What better way to complete the night than to have some cold local Thai beer?