Job Shadow Experience

Things often happen at the right timing. When I had a drop-in career clinic session at my university as I wrote in the previous post, the counselor advised me to apply for Job Shadow Experience, which is part of their Experience Builder Program. It’s an opportunity for students and alumni to “have the chance to spend a day gaining first-hand workplace experience”. In other words, it lets students and alumni “shadow” professionals in a field of their interest. I knew the program but assumed it was for current students and didn’t expect she would recommend it to me. The deadline was 11:59 pm of the day. I went home, revised my resume, wrote a cover letter and submitted them online 11 minutes before the deadline. A few days later, I got email of acceptance.

It turned out to be a good experience. From a list of Job Shadow posts, I chose a project engineer position at an engineering design company in Cambridge, Ontario. People who work for an engineering project are usually engineers at different levels and a manager. But in that company there are project engineers between a project manager and other engineers. It was rare opportunity for me to talk with people who work for an engineering project like that. Besides their roles and capabilities, what impressed me was their attitude. Everyone who I talked to said “I like this job”. Honestly, I have not met people like them in workplaces I have ever been. Two of them have worked for the company for 15 years, which is uncommon in North America.

Yesterday, the day after Job Shadow Experience, I sent out thank you email to the mentors. They replied right away, and some of them told me that I could contact them when I need their help. It’s a typical polite reply and it does not mean, of course, that they will help me get a job. But they are actually helpful and when I was talking with them they showed me a sincere attitude. It’s good to know that some people treat me in that way when I tend to feel helplessness. It’s good to know some people think of me.

Today is BoA’s birthday. Happy birthday, BoA! It’s good to know I can still think of someone in this way.

Walking toward the sun

It’s been two weeks since I was laid off. Now it seems “more real” to me than it was right after that. Yesterday, I visited the career service of my university in Hamilton to have a “drop-in clinic” session. While I was waiting for my session in the waiting area after signing up, I found a ladybug on a table in front of me. Ladybug is tentomushi in Japanese, which literally means “sun bug”. If I understand correctly, ladybug is called “sun bug” in Japan because they are always walking toward the sun. The fact is that they always walk upward to get to a tip of something, like grass or branch, because they are not good at flying out of a flat surface. Flying is more efficient way to get to a different point, and they keep walking upward to move on.

As I mentioned in an old post, I don’t like so-called positive thinking for some reasons. First of all, I don’t like typical positive thinkers’ dualism as seen in their typical argument like “thinking ‘half empty’ is negative and bad, thinking ‘half full’ is positive and good”. Positive thinking may make you feel better in an apparently bad situation, but I prefer to see everything as it is (though it is virtually impossible) and to think what I can do from there realistically whether the glass is half full or half empty. It’s so easy to be depressed when people are unemployed, as I had experienced two years ago and as I am experiencing right now. Some people may tell me “think positively. This can be a good opportunity for a better job”, which may be true, actually. But I still prefer seeing the current situation as it is whether it is positive or negative and think realistically.

Through the counseling yesterday, however, I found that I often think negatively. I often hesitate to write my accomplishments on my resume, believe or not. The logic behind that is that I don’t want to talk about bad things about other people on my resume; what I did was to make a bad situation “normal”, and in order to tell it I have to describe how bad other people had been. What I found yesterday is that I only need to tell how much I improved something, whether I saw it as from bad to normal or from normal to better. This must be nothing special for many other people, but for me it is a different way of thinking. My viewpoint at work had been negative while I could have seen everything as it was. Now, let’s recall what I have done so far from a different viewpoint, and think how I can describe it as my accomplishments. Recently I found that this is a good opportunity for me to re-think of myself and what I have done from a different perspective, or from the perspective that I used to have but forgot because of the depressing job. I may look like a ladybug for some people. I am only looking for a practical place to take off, but it may look like a positive thinker walking toward the sun. Whether it is realistic or positive, I need to keep walking anyways.

By the way, about a century ago, a famous feminist in Japan stated “元始、女性は太陽であった (originally, women were the sun)”. According to her, it makes sense to call ladybug “sun bug”, doesn’t it?

Memory, another case

I have written 140 posts so far. Among the 140 different stories, one thing that I have not mentioned is, something romantic. I am not, of course, going to talk about my love story here. Ha! I often write about memories, like Memory of Mess, Memories of chestnuts, Seasonal food, scenery and food, and so on. In those short essays, I write what evokes certain memories or feelings, or what recalls past events or habits. I am sure that, for many people, some love songs remind them of their romantic, or for some people like me, sorrow memories and feelings.

I like to listen to Japanese songs on YouTube. I even have a private playlist of J-Pop (Japanese pop). Some of the songs on the playlist are new (“newest” ones are around three years ago before coming to Canada this time), and some others are old, like 80’s music or even older. A few days ago, I suddenly remembered a Japanese love song that was popular almost 10 years ago, and added it to the playlist. As I wrote in an old post, I came to Canada in 2003, and I listened to the song when I temporarily went back to Japan and spent a few months during the summer in 2005. That 9-year-old song still evokes a romantically sorrow feeling I had for a girl. Sadly and as usual, I was a friend of hers. Though it was one-way, I’m sure I sincerely thought of her as the love song recalls. Sad and good memories.

Now I’m in one-way love with my dream job… As I wrote in a “recent” post (I know this is like monthly blog now… I wrote it more than a month ago), something was wrong. As I mentioned in that post, the current discouraging situation (yes, it is still “current” as I wrote in the previous post) may be one of some steps forward, in other words, a meaningful step in the long term. Thinking of this idea actually made me feel better, but this is only one way to interpret the current situation. Recently I finished reading my most favourite book. I don’t remember how many times I have read the book. Anyways. In that book, the author talks about a person who had been depressed and then recovered through a remarkable experience in a day. He finds that life is not about fame or reputation but how people contribute for others. I agree with him. The main cause of my “negative” interpretation of the current situation is, as I mentioned in the previous post, that what I am doing now is not what I “planned” to do, or from a different perspective, it is not what people who know me well anticipated I would do. It’s not about “fame”, but can I re-think of it, that is, how I contribute for other people by doing it, though it is not what I “planned” to do? It is tough to accept this idea, I know, but it should make me feel even better. Now I need some more time to accept it.

Of course I don’t mean to cheat on my dream job. Let’s think in this way; though it is one way, I sincerely think of it, like I did for the girl 9 years ago. Or even nicer way to make myself better is to look for opportunities to contribute for others with my design skills even though it is not a “job”, right?

August 20, 2014Permalink

Get back to normal, whatever my normal is.

I know this is odd feelings. When I feel good, I feel something is wrong, i.e., I chronically feel not good in last few years.

Of course the last part of this statement is exaggerated. Like I often wrote, I enjoyed volunteering as a TA at McMaster. I felt good then. Meeting my friends is fun of course. But I often have that feelings, and it happened this morning when I was driving to my work place. I know why I felt good; as I wrote in a previous post, MVP workers’ smile makes me happy, and it was yesterday (it is usually on Monday but it was a holiday this week). But feeling good on the way to work is odd, honestly. The reason of the feelings this morning was obvious, but seriously, I often feel something is wrong when I feel good.

As I wrote in an old post, I have not spent “normal life” in last couple of decades. This is what I wrote then.

In last couple of decades, I always do two things simultaneously; doing a full-time job or equivalent like being a full-time student, and preparing for the next step. What I mean by “living normally” is to do one full-time job and spend spare time on hobbies without worrying about next step.

Now I have a full-time job, but I do not think I have settled down. As I wrote in another previous post, I felt so unstable when I was a temporary employee. And even now I still feel unstable. The reason is obvious as I wrote in a recent post. Now, do I need to redefine “normal life”? Like described in an internet article that I referred to in another previous post, life is uncontrollable. Should I accept that being unstable is normal? Maybe I should. But this does not mean I should give up. Perhaps in the future I will spend abnormal stable life. Who knows?

February 19, 2014Permalink

Nothing personal

I often wish my job was my primary part of my life. I’m not saying, of course, that I want to be a workaholic. I mean, if I was doing a dream job, spending the majority of time on the job must have been ideal. I remember I wrote something like this in an old post. Unfortunately, my current job is way far from my dream job (not like the distance between Halifax and Vancouver but between Toronto and Mars). It “occupies” the majority of my day excluding sleeping (I guess this is why it is called occupation), and it is the most unpleasant time for me. When something at work irritates me, I tell myself “nothing personal” in my mind, and when I get on my car to leave the work place, I loudly tell myself “I forgot that”.

One of the things I do at work is to ask supervisors to select a weekly MVP worker and to do some paper work for that. I often need to urge them to do it for some reasons, which is quite unpleasant for me and probably for them in some degree as well. When it happens, I tell myself “nothing personal”. But when every MVP has been selected, paper work has been done, and a manager announces the MVP workers, everyone smiles. Their smile makes me happy. I could think this is something personal.

I could say “not only unpleasant things but happy things also happen, so this job is good”. This is so called positive thinking, which I think does not help a lot. The premise of positive thinking, I think, is that you can judge everything to be either positive or negative, like “half full” or “half empty”, and that thinking positively is a good attitude. Really? I prefer to, or in other words I wish I could, see everything as it is. The attempt to interpret everything as something positive or negative can be a cause of unpleasant feeling. Buddhism tells 色即是空、空即是色 (something is nothing, nothing is something), and this is probably what I need now. As for the “half full” or “half empty” issue, the premise of positive thinking is that being full is positive and being empty is negative. Can’t we see everything as it is? Nothing is positive, nothing is negative, nothing is personal.

As I wrote in a previous post, what I experience now will eventually form myself for the future. Whether it is something personal or business, it will form my personality. It seems better to see everything as it is and select what to be. Let’s see.

February 5, 2014Permalink

Fortune cookie

I went to a Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood a few days ago. The fortune cookie said “you will soon receive an unusual proposition”. Unusual proposition?? For one second I thought of something romantic, but it did not happen (so far). Instead, I received an unusual job offer today. As I wrote in a previous post, I got a temporary daytime job unexpectedly. It is a Japanese company in Mississauga. A senior manager often told me that he expects me to work for the company for a long term, but we have not discussed anything officially. Today another manager told me to read a document, sign it and return it to him. It was a job agreement for a full-time position. I even did not have a chance to negotiate. This is an unusual proposition.

It is not only unusual, but… In an old post, when I was going to take a temporary technical interpreter job in Orillia, I wrote “How close is it to my goal?  If the goal is Calgary and I start from Hamilton, I will be in Montreal next month”. Now, taking this job is like going to Halifax. But I still need to take this job for one reason; I need to settle down. If this journey will eventually take me to Calgary, I would do whatever I can now. Whether it is good or bad, fortune is fortune.

Today I had a chance to chat with a Japanese coworker who is somehow in a similar situation. It is good to have someone to share thought. The conversation with her encouraged me.

By the way, I went to the Chinese restaurant today again. Today’s fortune cookie says “happiness surrounds your event this week”. It is now Friday evening, and I’m not planning any event tomorrow. It’s not gonna happen. Oh well.

January 24, 2014Permalink

Let things happen. In other words, let go of control.

I accidentally found this internet article, 12 Tools For More Mindful Living. Mindful living?? I like it. According to this article, one of the tools is to let go of control. This idea is similar to what I wrote in a previous post, let things happen. One of other tools is to be curious. They do not sound alike, but the idea is somehow similar to what I wrote in an old post, let’s see how a loser will fail. It’s good to know that I am not alone. Apparently, I was looking for mindful living when I was lost in helpless job hunting.

Now I have income. As I wrote in a previous post, income often hides unwanted reality. I wrote “I was looking for…”, but actually I need mindful life now.

I’m still a temporary employee. Recently I was assigned for some tasks, which means I can assume that I will work for the company for a long term. But nothing is guaranteed. OK, let’s see what will happen. A few days ago, I got a phone call from a recruiting agency to offer a job to me. But it was not a type of job I want, though I have previous job experience in that field. Plus, I was assigned for log-term tasks in the current work place. For those reasons, I politely said “no”. I don’t know if it was a right choice or not. OK, be curious and see what will happen. One thing I’m sure is, whether I become a regular employee and get stable income or not, no matter how I’m satisfied with the job, I will keep looking for mindful living.

How did I “accidentally” find this internet article?? I found the photo, a kitty behind boxes, and was just curious about it. If you know me well, you must know who much I love cats!

January 11, 2014Permalink

Memory of Mess

The freezing rain in Southern Ontario last weekend changed many things. Tree branches coated with a thick clear layer of ice look incredibly beautiful especially around sunset. But the same phenomenon on something else left a big problem for a huge number of people in the region; some power lines were down because of a heavy thick layer of ice. It’s been five days since the ice storm, but thousands of people are still living without power.

In an early post, I wrote about scenery and seasonal food; autumn leaves even in Canada remind me of some seasonal Japanese food. In another early post, I wrote about a strange connection between a natural disaster and my childhood memories; a typhoon (or hurricane) evokes memories of chestnuts. A day after the ice storm, I drove in the city and witnessed what the natural disaster left. Unlike the memory of typhoon and chestnuts, it was more straightforward. When I saw traffic lights turned off, I remembered the mess after the massive earthquake that hit Eastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

It even evoked the emotion at the time. I quit a job a day before the earthquake. A job interview had been scheduled soon after that, but it was cancelled because of the mess after the earthquake. It was the start of helpless job hunting. TV news revealed the severe, unbelievable reality in the disaster areas day by day. I felt completely helpless. It is surprising to find that even a small event, turned-off traffic lights, can evoke such emotion. It was probably the combination of the scenery and the current situation. As I wrote in a previous post, I got a new temporary job, which means that until recently I had been unemployed. The manager of the current work place told me that he expects me to work for a long term, but nothing is guaranteed. Probably a glimpse of the mess after a natural disaster combined with the current unstable situation evoked the emotion.

Today I went boxing day shopping. After buying some nice shirts, although they were discounted, I thought “can I really afford them?” Income often hides unwanted reality. Now I have a job, have income, but it is still unstable and, above all, it is not a job that I want. I’m still a looser. I should remember hungry spirit as I wrote in an old post a year ago.

December 26, 2013Permalink

Suddenly, I got a temporary daytime job.

Right after the terrible job interview with a terrible company where I was asked “how old are you?” as I wrote in the previous post, the recruiting agency told me about another job at a Japanese company in Mississauga. A week after, I was hired as a temporary employee for a month. Unlike the terrible one who seemed to have known they would not hire me before meeting me, the current company knew they would hire me before meeting me. Surprisingly, they hired me without a job interview. They, of course, had heard about me from the recruiting agency, and this is only a temporary job. But it was unexpected. When things happen, they could happen like this.

Yes, things are happening. But for this time, perhaps I should not just let things happen but might need to make things happen as I hope. The point will be what I hope. Probably my hope will be different from my wish. I have a few weeks to think of it. Anyway, let’s see how the looser will fail.

By the way, my first impression of the current company is not bad. It is at least better than the previous one in Orillia. This does not mean that there is no problem, but the difference between the current one and the previous one is that people in the current work place seem to recognize that there are problems. Having problems is one problem, and not recognizing it is another, rather more disastrous problem.

November 23, 2013Permalink

Is this a rule? If so, it’s so silly.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I had a job interview yesterday. It was terrible. It looked like they had known they would not hire me before they met me. It’s a Japanese company, and there ware five interviewers: one Canadian HR manager, two Canadian executives, one Japanese executive, and one young Japanese kid. The HR kept smiling at me, the Canadian executives looked very reluctant and only asked ordinary questions like “what did you learn at school?”, and what the Japanese ones technically did was asking questions, but those “questions” ware actually messages to me that they would not hire me. I like harsh questions because answering harsh questions is a good chance to show my ability. But their questions ware not harsh but mean. Why the hell did it happen?

It all makes sense if I suppose in this way; there is a rule in that Japanese company that they have to interview a certain number of candidates to hire one person, and I was not selected as one based on my resume. The HR knew it, felt bad to me, and kept smiling at me to make me feel less bad. The Canadian executives knew it, knew that the interview would only waste their time and that they had to do it because it was decided by Japanese executives, and ware so reluctant. The Japanese ones knew it, and since they are typical bossy Japanese bosses, they gave me mean messages. I don’t know. But it makes sense anyway. Typical Japanese people love to make rules to show that they are rule followers.

I really don’t know. But if that’s the rule, it’s so silly. They wasted their time, I wasted my time and gasoline (it’s in Palmerston and takes 1.5 hours drive one way), and above all, they made a very very bad image of the company. Even if it was not the rule, what makes them ask mean questions? As I mentioned, I like harsh questions, but there is a big difference between “harsh” and “mean”.

How mean? When the Japanese executive started his turn, he said “英語で訊けない事があるので日本語で話します (I should not ask those questions in English, so I ask in Japanese)”, and asked me “お歳はいくつですか (How old are you)?” HOW OLD ARE YOU??? Is this the first question in a job interview? No way! He asked the question knowing that it’s against the Canadian rule. Now I think I should have answered that question in English so that every Canadian there would know it.

In an old post, I wrote “charity is not for people”. If you do good things to people, those people will do good things to other people, and eventually someone else will do a good thing to you. Charity is not only for other people but also for yourself. The opposite is also true. If you do bad things to other people, it will eventually result in something bad for you. But that seems their corporate culture.

Another Japanese proverb goes “see people’s behavior and correct yours”. I should use this experience as an opportunity to learn. What mean things do I do to other people? How do I make other people feel terrible? What could it result in? They seem to have given me a good lesson.

November 15, 2013Permalink