Thursday, May 15, 2008

So I am now officially a published writer, although I'll always think of myself as published photographer first. I got a column published in the Daily Cal for the graduation issue. I wrote an article about how to interview successfully based on my personal experiences. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Sitting across from you is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.

They can offer you the world and you think they're perfect. With sweaty palms and weak knees you try to impress them, but your nerves are completely shot. All day you've been rehearsing your script trying to sound cool. You've been carefully crafting exactly what you want to say and how to say it right.

It's a classic case of the first-interview jitters.

Interviewing really is like going on a first date.

Think about it: An interview is the first time that you and your prospective employer meet face to face. Sure, they've read your resume and cover letter, but they don't really know you and you don't really know them.

The interview is an opportunity for both of you to learn more about each other and decide whether it's a match made in heaven or hell.

So how should you prepare for an interview? Kind of like the way you would prepare for a date.

Take the time to do research and learn more about your employer. Keep in mind that, like dating, interviewing is a two-way street. Evaluate the company and decide whether or not it's the right place for you. This might involve browsing their website, reading articles about them, or attending information sessions and career fairs. After all, knowledge is power and the more power you have, the more likely you are to get the job.

Preparation is great and all, but what about the actual interview itself? It's scary, but a bad first impression can completely ruin an interview in the blink of an eye. First impressions stick with people, so make sure yours is a good one. You wouldn't show up to a date with that "haven't-showered-in-a-week-tree-sitter-look," right? I hate to say it, but people are shallow and appearances do matter, so do yourself a favor and arrive neatly dressed. Remember that in an interview, there is no such thing as being overdressed, but you can definitely be underdressed.

Other than looking sharp, all of the other standard rules of dating apply to interviewing, as well.

For one, show up on time. In fact, the earlier the better. Secondly, be an active listener. There's nothing more awkward than a date that lacks conversation "chemistry." Have some questions ready for your interviewers and try to anticipate what kinds of questions they'll ask you. Again, remember that an interview is your chance to learn more about the company.

And finally, don't forget a personalized hand-written thank you letter. It'll help you get that second (professional) date.

But the best advice I can offer is also the most cliche: Be confident and be yourself. This summer, I'm going to be working abroad with an electronics manufacturing company in China. When I first interviewed with them, I knew nothing about the company. In fact, I didn't even know that I was interviewing for a position in China.

But what got me the job was knowing myself and being sure of my skills and accomplishments. More than anything, I opened myself up at the interview and gave them a taste of Alan Wong. In the end, I got the job, despite my inability to speak Mandarin.

It just goes to show the importance of relaxing and keeping it real during the interview. With any luck, you might soon be honeymooning with the company of your dreams.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sometimes, in the back of my mind I wonder whether taking this job and heading to China is the right choice. I mean it's quite the commitment. I'm going to China for heaven's sake! It's all the way on the other side of the world. Somewhere I know that it'll be good for me. I always like to think that change is a good thing. Expanding your horizons only makes you a more aware, more well rounded person. These are the types of experiences that will become invaluable in the long run.

Still despite knowing that this will be good, I can't help but wonder if this is what will really make me happy or even what I really want. I mean heck, I barely even know what I'm going to be doing over there. "Sales Engineer" isn't exactly the most descriptive title. And is sales engineering even what I really want to do? I had always envisioned myself in a lab doing cool research and design types of projects. I guess I shouldn't judge sales engineering before I try it though.

I guess all these thoughts started because yesterday was the last day of classes at UC Berkeley. More importantly though it was my last day of teaching and tutoring. Right after I finished my last lecture, one of my students came up to me and gave me a card. She said, "Sorry it's kind of girly," but it didn't matter to me. I mean an email would have been fine, but a hand written card is genuinely touching.

It was in that moment that I realized that I'll be graduating soon and that it won't be soon before I'm leaving for China. That was the first time I felt really sad about graduating and leaving UC Berkeley. Now, I'm really wondering whether going to China is the right choice. In the end, I know I don't have a choice having already signed a contract. However, part of me wonders whether I should be teaching or photographing instead, things that I know I am passionate about without a doubt unlike engineering. Maybe somewhere I'm afraid that I'll never photograph or teach again. I guess if I really love those things, then I'll find a way to do them as well.

In any case. I have 1.5 months before I leave.