Category Archives: Work

Growing up sucks.

Now that term 3 is almost over, I figured that it is about time that I reflect on my teaching practice and really look back at my time spent in school the last 6 months or so. And I don’t know why. Maybe it is a bad day, maybe it’s cos I’m feeling emo but I’m particularly contemplative tonight. So if you aren’t quite in the mood to read something heavy and serious then perhaps you should give this post a miss.

Warning… verbal diarrhea ahead.

Read the rest of this entry

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Thoughts on the Philosophy of Life (and Work)

Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.  ~Danny Kaye

Everyone knows that the first year of your working life is supposed to be like shit. It’s like being thrown all the way down from the highest and most “know-it-all” position (of being the oldest and knowledgeable students at school) to the unprepared, inexperienced kindergarden school student who cried because she didn’t know what she was being punished for.

It’s something like that, without all the crying and angstiness, of course.

Instead, one sits stone-faced at the desk, looking at the insane pile of work and thinks, “this is what I have to do, this is what I must do, this is what will be done, by the end of the day”. Of course, as with anything in life, one has several options:

  1. Be strong and CHIONG through it all until you feel like puking/dying
  2. Do what you can and go home when the clock hits 6.00pm
  3. Leave it be
Me? I try to have a mix of everything. I try to stay motivated and really put my heart into my work, but at the same time, I tell myself that I shouldn’t allow myself to burn out, and if there are things that can be left to tomorrow, I should stop being so stubborn and allow myself some rest. because rest is important.
& having people who know your pain, sympathise and support you through that painful first year, is indescribably, incredibly precious. So even with that huge workload, I don’t regret letting go of work once in awhile, just to have fun, laugh and enjoy our time together :)
plus it’s totally awesome that they share (and unfortunately, too easily indulge) my cravings.
So it’s been said, that Work and Life aren’t compatible. You either work and have no life; or enjoy your life, but sacrifice your career. Well, I beg to differ. To me, work is part of life. It’s an essential phase we (well, most of us… since even the imposibly rich Hilton heiress Paris Hilton has to “work”) all have to go through, to eke out a livelihood and bear the cost of basic necessities. That said, work doesn’t necessarily rob you of life. Personally, I think of it as something that enhances my appreciation of leisure. & in the same vein, it’s a learning process when one begins to grasp how to create a balance between work and life.
I’ll freely admit, I’m not even there yet. I still have 8.30am-9.30pm days (13 hours at the office), I still have nightmares and toss and turn in bed thinking about what I have to do tomorrow, I sometimes feel depressed and demoralized… but if there’s one thing I can say for myself, it’s that I’m ridiculously optimistic.
So what’s my endpoint? Well, he’s not the best person to take advice from, but you have to admit that the screenwriters of How I Met Your Mother gave him pretty good lines every now and then… well, almost every episode actually.
so here’s a shoutout to all my friends out there who’re experiencing their very first year of utterly disgusting shit, do what Barney Stintson says! Not in his awfully chauvinistic, egotistic manner, but you get the idea. Be the best that you can be, & things will get better. They inevitably do. Because it’s only after the first year of shit that your bosses start to sieve out the ones with potential, and the ones who are … disposable. Be that indispensable  cog in the system, not the replaceable one.
& one day, you’ll begin to feel awesome again :)

Nostalgia: A Journey Down the Tracks

As everyone fondly sings the songs of patriotism, I thought it’ll be apt to blog about a national icon we’ve lost in the past year, before our nation turned 46. & if you think about it, the year 2010-2011 has been pretty memorable. The elections, the economic crisis (which we most certainly will have to deal with, from the looks of it…) Nonetheless, let us not forget how our little country has weathered each storm, only to emerge triumphant. Singapore, I you!

In a heartbeat, time has passed us by…

& i’m glad I didn’t miss out on the chance to visit the old Railway before it closed down for good. It’s rather sad that I never got the opportunity to take the train, but hey, I spent 3-4 hours walking on the tracks so at least I have that (:

Merry Colleagues posing for the cam before we set off (and end up looking all tired & sweaty haha)

Insane hectic workloads aside, it’s great to get out of the office, breathe some fresh air and indulge in some crazy activities. plus we felt we really burned off some calories, whoo!

Whilst we may all look super happy in these photos, believe me when I say those were only for the “camera moments”. haha! sigh more than once we looked off the railway at civilization with a wistful gaze. Escape! But somehow we all kept each other trekking on and managed to complete it in under 4 hours

No doubt, our collective fitness levels need to be amped up, which is why we’re having weekly gym sessions to keep fit! *RAWR!!

Unlike some of my colleagues who had fond memories of taking the train in their primary sch days, my only memories of the train tracks were of seeing them pass by as I took the long bus journey on 151 to NUS. Nevertheless, it was a very scenic walk and I enjoyed it very much, though I was pretty grateful our walk didn’t span the entire railway in Singapore. That would’ve killed me, I think.

Finally at the Bukit Timah Station! (near King Albert Park – so guess which fast food joint we went for dinner?)

All in all, a pretty awesome excursion, on company time no less XD

& whilst the work might be tough, learning how and when to let it go & grab hold of opportunities like these, was a precious thing I learnt from my colleagues :) I’m glad I didn’t choose to stay in office instead, haha. Have a great (short) week ahead everyone!

Office Life is kinda driving me CRaazy

but really, that’s something of an understatement!

Craziness aside, one good thing about joining a pro-work/life balance organization is that they really go all out to provide their staff with opportunities to enjoy themselves together :) In the last two weeks alone, I’ve gone on 2 outdoor excursions & a cupcake baking class, yay! I’ll have to admit that whilst i’m a talkative person, I’m not really someone who makes a conscious effort to learn new things or have new experiences, so I really do appreciate these opportunities. Not only does it enhance the bonding between my colleagues and I, but also introduces an awesome element of fun, which is a rejuvenating experience from the monotony of mundane office work…

Our cupcake baking class was held in the So EZ Cooking Studio, located next to Food Junction in the basement of Great World City. Browsing through their pamphlet, the studio actually offers quite a wide variety of things you can learn to make, from a full set of french/japanese/chinese cuisine to kiddy treats that kids & parents can enjoy making together. Since we were learning how to bake cupcakes, we had the privilege of meeting their pastry chef, Chef June.

I’m not too prolific a baker myself (in fact, I hardly ever bake), so I really enjoyed listening to the tips and tricks that Chef June shared with us. She explained the differences between dense and fluffy cakes, and also provided some advice on how to “save” our cakes/pastries from imminent disaster. Plus, she was really helpful & went around assisting us. Our ingredients for the day: Butter, Sugar, Flour and Eggs. pretty simple huh!

The baking class was about 2 hours long, during which we camwhored like crazy (as all typical huge groups of girls do) and we all managed to make 4 cupcakes each. There was also a 15-25 min break, while we waited for our cupcakes to cool & had toilet break etc.

Tada! The happy NorthEasties gang! (aptly named so because we all live along the NEL  – serangoon, kovan, hougang & sengkang)

Our favourite part was by far the icing! It was so fun and easy to whip because Chef June FINALLY let us use the electric mixer. Manually mixing in the butter and sugar nearly tore our arms off, thanks to the monotony and lack of exercise that results from office work. We were also given 3 pretty decorations to put on our cupcakes! I really liked the red hearts :D

At the end of it all – tada! my awesome cupcakes. They were simple butter cupcakes which tasted pretty good to me, but if you ask me, I think I’ve been completely and utterly spoiled by that awesome cupcake stall at Amoy St, where the filling just ooozes out soooo deliciously. So haha, compared to those, my cupcakes definitely weren’t up to par but they were very edible, so I’m not complaining! X) Plus, the bf gave it his stamp of approval!

So yep! i’ve been a pretty busy bee. which means now I have more outstanding work with looming deadlines to meet. eeks!

Crisis Averted!

It is monday and it’s back to the battlefield again but you shouldn’t have to struggle at the workplace! Here are some handy items to have at your desk just in case there’s an emergency…

Scholl Party Feet Gel Cushions

Oh yes, I am on my feet for an hour and ten minutes at a stretch, sometimes more and what keeps my feet happy are these gel cushions that helps prevent my feet from abrasion and blistering. Scholl’s Party Feet is awesome because it actually stays on your shoe insoles unlike some other brands that come off after awhile. I also like to smear some Footglide Skin Protectant  for added protection and to spritz it with some The Body Shop Peppermint Footspray to keep away the smelly Hong Kong feet!

Rexona Anti-Perspirant Deodorant

There are many reputable brands in the market but I love Rexona because it works and it is so darn cheap! For $2.35 (it’s on offer now!) you get a roll-on deodorant that provides 24hr bioprotection. That means that your skin is allowed to breathe while some chemical masks your body odour. As a result, you feel clean and fresh and you smell good too! I’ve tested it out for a week now and even after the end of a long work day, I can still smell that faint hint of my Rexona Deodorant. I got the green roll-on and it’s called Rexona Naturals and it has this botanical shampoo-y smell about it that is not too overpowering. Good stuff.

Dettol Wipes

For $6, you get 50 sheets of anti-bacterial wipes that is supposed to kill up to 99.9% of germs and viruses! I love to use this to clean my keyboard, my trackpad and my desk. I don’t mean to be an OCD freak but we come into contact with so many different kinds of germs everyday. I have to use a fingerprint scanner to get into the staffroom (and God knows how many people have swiped their fingers on that machine alone!)

Hansaplast Plasters

If you work in an office, you are bound to get a paper cut (I just got one today) and it is amazing how such a small little cut can cause so much pain! Yikes. But of course, a paper cut is a small matter. I keep plasters (I have a first aid kit actually) at my desk in case a student gets hurt during PE or CCA. Also, plasters are mighty handy if 1) gel cushions fails 2) foot glide fails and you STILL get blisters after all those preventive measures.

Eclipse Mints/Toothbrush + Toothpaste 

Whether it be meeting students or an important client, you don’t want to have to speak to them right after a meal. Bad breath can be such a turn off. So always be prepared. Have a bottle of mints at your table or carry around a portable tooth brush and tooth paste so you can have nice clean teeth and fresh breath! I find Eclipse mints to be really effective and they taste a tad sweeter than Fisherman’s Friend so they are my preferred choice. Of course there are lots of other brands of aftermeal mints like Impact, Frozz, Clorets or Tick Tack that come in a variety of other flavours.

These items may seem so insignificant but oh what a huge difference they make in my life! What are your office must-haves?

Cos I had a bad day

You know, there are just those days where you get up in the morning, you feel upbeat and you think it’s going to be absolutely fabulous. The sun is shining, you have a skip in your step and you are generally optimistic. But as it turns out, everything just doesn’t go your way. Orange juice gets spilt all over your white dress. It’s school picture day. A pet rock is more responsive than your class despite your good natured attempts at cajoling them. Yes. Days like these exist.

And to be honest, I was totally bummed. I could laugh at the fact that my dress became a Monet Impressionist painting but what absolutely killed my spirit is when I take such pains to plan a lesson to the point where I’m working through the weekend and some kids (granted, there were those who listened attentively and really, thank God for them) well… they just don’t appreciate it. They are there physically, but their soul and their heart is someplace else. It’s frustrating when you care more about their future than they do. And I guess it’s something about this profession that I’ve chosen and I admit, I set myself up for heartbreak all the time. You come in all bright-eyed and bushy tailed with lofty aspirations that you can change the future one child at a time and well, there are days where you feel let down, depressed and uninspired.

I wouldn’t say that the events of today have killed my spirit, I mean, how pathetic would that sound. But I think I learnt today that

1) I’m not superhuman, I don’t have control over all things and sometimes I just need to let it go.

2) I need to temper my expectations. It’s not going to be bright and breezy everyday. There are going to be highs and lows and I’ve just got to deal with it as it comes along.

3) I need to be create a separate space for personal time and stop letting school take over my life because I shouldn’t be in work-mode 24/7

4) It’s unhealthy to indulge in self-blame. They are old enough to make their own decisions, I don’t need to bear all the burden on my shoulders.

5) Professional distance is so so important. Teaching is a heart job, you lay your heart on the line all the time. You have to constantly show students that you care. Be their friend. But that doesn’t mean I can compromise on rules such as punctuality, handing up homework on time etc. I am still an authority figure that deserves respect and some things are not negotiable.

6) I need to find joy in the small things in life. Even when the world gets you down and all you want to say is FML, think again. As I got home and reflected about the good things that happened today, I had a pretty long list! I ate Macdonalds curly fries which I LOVE, watched a pretty decent movie called Little Red Riding Hood, and the redeeming moment of the day? My kid told me he finished reading Disgrace and loved it…

So if ever you feel unappreciated, deflated and downright crappy, don’t let that feeling consume you for too long. Sure I get angsty and bitchy and god knows the number of snide bitchy remarks I can dream up in my sleep. Retorts that are at the tip of my tongue, just waiting to lash back at some unsuspecting student. But I hold it in (tremendous test of one’s tolerance and acting skills I tell you) and let the moment of passion subside.

And I let it go not because I’m a coward, but because it really isn’t worth it. Sure, my anger would have been appeased. But at what cost?

Instead, I focus my energy on the positives: I praised a kid today and now she speaks up confidently in my class. I spoke up for someone and his expression, I won’t soon forget. I ignited a spark in one kid and now he wants to read all of Coetzee’s books. A kid told me he wants to study Lit in university even though his first language isn’t even English.

There are days like these when I get angry with the situation, angry that this isn’t what I signed up for, angry that things didn’t go my way. It’s normal to feel that way. But one always has a choice: let the anger chew you up and spit you out, or to let it go and focus on the good things. Louis Jordan said it best, “Let the good times roll”.

So tomorrow, as I take a short hiatus from school (it’s home based learning day!) to rest, recuperate and lick my wounds, I’m going to rethink my strategy and get my head and heart back in the right place so I can head back to school on friday with renewed positive energy! Hurrah!

Peek-a-boo!

I’m absolutely in love with this peek-a-boo white blouse from the runway of A.L.C. subtle yet daring, the plunging slit adds an edge of confidence and sexiness to the outfit. I loved how the model rocked the look with smart work separates.

so is it a yay or nay? White is such an awesome, easy-to-match kind of colour. but thinking about it, I might just be more fascinated by the match of the white shirt with the smart blazers as pictured above. Stylist Andrea Lieberman chose broad shouldered blazers for her model on the A.L.C runway – so even though her figure is rather slight/small, she looks quite “substantial”.

I know I’ve been slow on the uptake (since colourful blazers have been practically last season’s trend) but hey, before my working life, the idea of wearing a blazer in our tropical heat never even occurred to me! That said, my office stays at a comfy 24 deg so wearing a blazer might not be such a good option in the office either. *sigh* I wish it were colder.

So I’m by no means an expert on blazers, but from my dressing room research, it’s rather apparent that different cuts of blazers do different things for your body. Depending on what you need, blazers can flaunt your assets or hide your flaws – it really depends on what kind of working professional you see yourself to be, and what you believe is a necessity for your career, or a “feel good” feeling at work.

Personally, I haven’t yet found the perfect range of blazers (and colours), mostly because everything i try seems to be too “heavy” and hot for the office/our weather. but it’s a great office look to try and I’ll definitely be hunting for the perfect one for some time.

Did you get any weekend purchases that you’re ecstatic to wear to work this Monday Morning? I hope you did! have a great week :)

Splurges of the Month!

With a moderate oomph added to my bank account every month, it’s been really tempting to treat myself every once in awhile (but all this is stopping, with the setting up of my POSB Savings account, thank goodness). So tada! here’s my moderate splurge of the month:

Simple, elegant and black, this Tocco Toscano leather bag suited me perfectly for work. I loved the gold accent and the simple crown logo too! I have to admit, that I’m not really the type who’s into big-name brand bags so unlike my fellow “new” colleagues who got their first bag purchase from Chanel, Coach etc, I was looking more for a design that I really liked + quality :)

One thing I find is essential for bags is the shape. With all the stuffing that salespeople put in bags, they always look lovely hanging in the store. What i’m interested in, is what the bag looks like without all that stuffing, with my irregularly shaped stuff in the bag. So I went for a structured bag that had a definite shape, even with irregularly shaped stuff in it. & yes this is why I love katespade so much, so many of their bags are shaped so nicely! but none of the designs instore caught my eye…

Also, this isn’t a splurge at all but to decorate my desk, I got even more flowers! hahaha. I love flowers and how they brighten up a place, so for one dark little corner of my desk, I got these flowers + vase from Daiso

I love the combination of blue & purple, so I mixed four stalks of flower clusters (hydrangeas, they’re called) together. Plus, since my other flowers were more pink toned, I thought it’d be good to go for a “cooler” combination, whilst keeping with my overall theme of purple. This is why I love the colour purple so much! It’s just so awesome :D

The bf also felt quite spendy, so he got a Braun Buffel wallet in white. I really love the colour and texturized surface, plus white is a “new” colour for him. He usually goes with browns and blacks.

It was rather amusing how much paraphernalia was inside the wallet. They even had a “family tree” of the founding members of Braun Buffel!

I personally find that when it comes to things that you’re gonna use everyday (wallet, bag etc), it really makes sense to invest in a quality piece that lasts forever & is relatively easy to match. In other words, it’s either a neutral, simple piece or a really outstanding piece. The former to quietly accentuate your style and the latter to loudly proclaim it – it could really go either way. But get something that wears and tears in a few weeks and you’d be feeling rather unhappy about that purchase. So big ticket purchases these might be, but our daily use of them more than justifies the cost, i think! Far better than hiding in one treasured corner of our rooms! XP

Back To School Sprucing

So the new school term starts again on Monday and I figured that it’s time to buy some stuff to start sprucing up my desk. I’ve already bought some decorative postcards and knick knacks from Birds and Co   and Wood Would but I saved all my big items till now. Here’s what I bought from Ikea and Daiso!

These items are probably familiar to you if you frequent Ikea alot. I love Ikea because they sell home furniture and accessories at such an inexpensive price. These 4 magazine files are great for me. I intend to label them according to class so I could slot in various materials to help me organize my stuff. They come in white, natural brown, blue floral patterns and colorful stripes. I thought the colorful stripes best suited my personality. The best part? They only cost $2.90.

Also, I was looking for a pen holder to store my pens on the table because somehow or another I find unzipping a pencil case to be really troublesome (I’m lazy I know). So my answer is this generic white cup that costs only $1.90.

My last buy from Ikea is this rug. I intend to place this right underneath my desk so I can take off my shoes and have something cosy and comfortable to rest my feet. The rug came in different sesame street colours. There was cookie monster blue (which I got eventually), oscar green, big bird yellow, telly pink and elmo red. And as far as rugs go, this is cheap for only $25.

Right, so what did I buy in Daiso then? For $2, I managed to get a seat cushion in little brown polka dots and this was absolutely a steal because I intend to bring my khaki Ikea cushion (that I bought for hall) over as well! I absolutely am a stickler for matching things so brown and khaki definitely complement each other. I think that the muted palette for my seating area would definitely go nicely with my bright coloured magazine files and rug (or so I hope).

I also got a little white board! I was so so tempted to buy the Doodle board but it was so expensive. $70! That’s quite expensive for a writing board right? Though it does save the environment (but waste battery). In any case, price won over and I went for the cheaper alternative.

Lastly, I bought a little plastic box with a catch just to store my loose change. In school, you are always collecting small amounts of money (think $1.25) from students to print notes and this little box will definitely come in handy. I hate it when I tuck spare change in my pocket or in my bag and it gets lost in the abyss. Well, no more! Problem solved!

That’s pretty much my back to school shopping. I’ve yet to buy post-its and 2 binder files but that’s pretty much it. More photos of my work station once I actually settle in properly. But I’m really really excited! Finally a nesting place! Can’t wait!

Job Hunting

Back in the days when I just started jobhunting, I was relatively unaware of where I could jobhunt and how. Turns out that there was a wealth of sites online to help me in my search for that perfect job, so I thought i’d list them down for my soon-to-be-graduated friends out there :)

1. Jobs DB.com

One of the most established job sites, Jobs DB has a huge range of large corporate companies who advertise on this job portal. like Jobstreet and Jobscentral, it has a very intuitive search engine, so it’s really easy to search for any job under the sun. It’s better known as a job portal for civil service jobs.

2. Jobscentral.com

A decidedly more hip version of JobsDB, Jobscentral is more focused on jobs available in the competitive private sector. Expect a full range of jobs from MNCs and local companies that have grown and spread abroad (e.g. Charles & Keith). Most of these jobs are mostly aimed at diploma holders & fresh grads.
3. JobStreet.com

What distinguishes JobStreet from the two former sites is its clean and simple layout. Aiming mostly at young professionals looking for a boost in their career through a career change, Jobstreet.com offers jobs from various MNCs and offers employment throughout south east asia.

4. ST701.com

The online version of the Straits Times Classifieds, ST701 offers jobs from all over the place, in every sector of the economy. If you’re looking to understand what jobs are the most in demand, ST701 is your best bet. Plus, as white collar jobs are advertised in bulk on the Saturday paper edition, it’s a good place to dig up old advertisements and check out which big employers are looking to hire.

5. Prevview.com

The newest site to emerge, I think this is the most innovating and interesting site yet! Playing on the increasing importance and viral nature of social media, Prevview is a video job portal that allows people to post “Visumés” (instead of Resumes) to gain the attention of employers. In my opinion, this is exactly what any fresh grad with little or no experience needs. With the large amount of highly qualified individuals in our society, employers aren’t just looking at paper qualifications. Now they’re looking for that extra “oomph” & for many, a Video conveys so much more of your character than a short paragraph can.

Back when I was applying for jobs, I went through many stages for my own resume. First I had a dead-boring conventional resume, which I thought was what everyone expected, then I decided to throw all caution into the wind and made it more personal and intimate. I included funny pictures of myself, talked about life experiences – and well it took me about 1 million years to cut it down to the accepted word limit, but I did it anyway! & guess what? I got almost a 100% response back from all the employers whom I sent my new resume to, which really convinced me that it’s not just the paper qualifications that sell, it’s also how you make yourself personable to your prospective employer.

& the truth is, there’s really no hard & fast rule about what your resume should look like, apart from the basics of including your academic qualifications etc. So if you’re feeling inspired and hoping to find an employer and company culture that’s in sync with your personality, check out these cool Visumes that have already been uploaded to Prevview.com :) I for one, am quite envious of all you fresh grads who have the time to spare on making a Visume… hahhaa.

Better yet, it turns out that Prevview.com is currently holding a contest for those age 18-35

All you need to do is put together a Visume – what we at Prevview call Video
Resumes – that will show and tell us why you would make a great employee.
You can sing, dance, rap, produce a movie or even sell a brick. Be it creative or
professional, do it your way and boldly express your best self.

Liking the sound of it? Ah it looks like Prevview.com is all out to grab the attention of the market, just at the moment where fresh grads are beginning to look at where the pastures are the greenest. No doubt, Prevview has a pretty sweet deal tagged onto this competition, with 50 prizes up for grabs, 43 of which are worth $10 000 (in total) and 7 will receive their desired jobs (which to me, is pretty amazing because think of all the nerve wrecking rounds of interviews you’ll get to skip!)

So here’s to the new era of social media-engineered job hunting. Pick one, pick a few, but throw away all ideas of being conventional & boring. To thine ownself be true :) 

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