Monday, May 18, 2015

Dear Class of 2016+

There are a lot of posts like this out there, but I've written this particularly for university students in Thailand, and even more specifically for the underclassmen in my program who will graduate in a year or 2 or 3. If you happen to be in my graduating class, it would be nice of you to share this with the roon nongs (juniors) you care about, eh hem! Just putting it out there. 

So, here it is goes: 

Dear Class of 2016+, here are the 3 most important things I want you to know about graduating from university that no pretentious alumni seminar is going to tell you :
I feel like in Thai society especially, when you are graduating from undergrad (and from a place like Chula), you are going to feel the heat of adults hounding you about where you're planning to go for Masters right after - and they won't blink until you say the names of several well-known institutions in the UK. But honestly, since when did doing something other than getting your Masters right after your Bachelors - like say, getting a good job, or even just figuring things out - become an unorthodox choice? It was a pain in the butt in my 4th year, the number of times people would not understand why I, straight-A Nitade Chula 47i Mika, was not working on my SOP and scrambling for recommendation letters to enroll to Oxford. I even got this from my own classmates, but I blame the adults who perpetuate this outlook on us. 

Now listen carefully, my dear underclassmen, because I am about to feed you the speech you can give to someone who'll ostracize you for choosing the "divergent" path: Education is valuable, and it also doesn't come cheaply or easily. You should feel like you need further institutional education in order to pursue it. Because it's really not worth it to spend all the money and time listening to lectures for a year or two, if it means squat to you. But imagine this, imagine waiting a few years and realizing exactly what you are lacking in knowledge. I bet at that point, an SOP will just flow right out of you, and I say that's definitely an edge in getting accepted. Moreover, when you get there because it's finally your time, you'll soak up the opportunity way more than if you had gone prematurely.

It's quality over speed. Not everybody feels that they still need institutional education right after they graduate from college, and graduate school is not something you just want to "get over with". 

So when it comes to applying for work after graduating, adults are going to be more proud of you if they recognize the name of the company you've applied to. But this doesn't mean you should only consider those "big-name" companies. I didn't realize this until I started job hunting, but there are many downsides to joining the big boys. First of all, the pay. I'm sure this is important to most, if not all, of you looking to get a job. I mean who doesn't want to be the one in their circle who makes the most $$$? The thing you have to realize, however, is that for the most part, in Thailand at least, size of the company and size of the salary are negatively correlated with each other. 

If you hate math grammar, that means that the bigger the company, the lower the starting salary you're likely to receive. A major reason for this is actually the second con of joining with big-name companies: in their eyes, you are no different than any other fresh graduate they've ever accepted. Okay, some big companies are better than others, but I speak from job hunting experience that there is generally a noticeable difference between the way that big firms treat you and the way that small firms, or start-ups, treat you. Let me explain it illustratively: start-ups will definitely see that you've written that you do martial arts and haiku on your resume. 

I've been in a pretty ugly interview with a reputable big company where, even in subsequent rounds of the interviewing process, they didn't know who I was and couldn't be bothered to look at my GPA and work experiences and so expressed that I was asking for too much for being so "unqualified". #TryingToControlTheOffenseIFeel With start-ups/small companies, on the other hand, when they have a job opening, it's because they really need someone. There's that key word again, need. They also need someone exceptionally capable because everyone pulls their weight and then some in a small company. If you think that feeling valued in a company will greatly influence your performance, then don't be tempted by that big-name company that won't bother to look at your resume. 

The only reason you should join an established big-name company is if the job position they are offering is your dream job. It's as simple as that. (It's also a plus if they're a big company that acts like a small company.) Don't join a big company so that your parents can boast about you to their friends. Don't join because you just got the job, it sounds cool, and whatever. Some of you have already envisioned your ideal career situation for 5 or 10 years in the future. If you think about the absolute necessary steps that it takes to get there, and one of those steps happens to be a certain job at a big company, you should join that big company offering that job. This might mean you won't be that person in your circle who'll reward himself with a Benz after only a few years of working, but maybe by the time that friend of yours buys his Benz, you'll be even happier than him.