An Open Letter To Millennials Who Just Started Working

I came across this video after a sharing by my fellow colleagues when they talked about how self-entitled millennials are.

“Why they are so impatient?”

“Why do they think they can do it their way?”

While I couldn’t help to agree with these statements, at the same time I also took the opportunity to reflect on my own.

Did I behave the same way 5 years ago, when I first started working?

I believe I did. Because I wasn’t like this 5 years ago.

If I were to describe myself in few words, it would young & stupid.

So here’s my story.

My College Years

During my college years, I was by default, chosen as team leader on every single occasion. Somehow, my team would end up with top scores.

I was also elected as vice president for clubs, a discipline director for community sociology and many more.

All these experiences helped in building my confidence, hindsight and my way of handling things.

At that point of time, I felt that my opinion matters most among my peers. I felt that it was important for my opinion to be heard and elected, especially when we’re doing assignments.

I could still recall during one of my presentation, my lecturer described me as an authoritative kind of leader.

In layman terms, he is saying I’m the kind of guy who prefers to do things my way, and I view it as a single absolute mean to achieve things.

I didn’t quite get him back then because I felt that I was right.

My team scored high, if not, highest scores. I’m in the highest hierarchy of extra co-curriculum.

Why would I be wrong? I can’t be.

But now that I look back, I suppose he’s seeing that I would run into trouble when I started working.

The Ponder After Graduation

I graduated with 2nd upper class. (I fucking missed the first class by 1 mark, god dammit!)

Like everyone else, upon graduation, I started searching for a job.

Just like any other fresh graduates, I didn’t know what I wanted to do back then.

Some of my friends went into banking line because it’s paying well, some of my friends decided to try their luck in Singapore. Everyone seemed to have their own direction.

All I only know was that I wanted something fast pace, some environment that I can absorb and grow at an enormous pace.

I went back to TARC (now known as TARUC) to seek advice from a lecturer whom I respect a lot – Mr. Lim Chin Hock.

“How can I help you?”

“I didn’t know where to look for a job, do you have any suggestion, Sir?”

“Do you wanna try out advertising?”

“Why not?”

Yup, he passed me the Tan Kien Eng’s contact, the CEO of Leo Burnett. And of course, I buta-buta emailed him this:

My email to Kien, CEO of Leo Burnett
My email to Kien, CEO of Leo Burnett
And Kien was kind enough to reply.
And Kien was kind enough to reply.
Have to say I am kind of good in presenting myself lol.
Have to say I am kind of good in presenting myself lol.

 

That’s how I landed on my first job – as an account executive.

For those who do not know, in advertising industry, account executives means brand executives, we craft campaigns and deal with clients directly. Think of it as a project manager.

My First Year At Work – The Horror Begins

I got screwed real bad at my first day at work due to miscommunication.

Right before I joined the company on Dec 2012, I was informed by my manager that my salary would only be transferred by Jan as accounts have closed the book for the period.

On the very first day when I entered the office, the head of people greeted me (and I didn’t know she was head of people at that very point of time), somehow I buntut gatal went and ask about the salary issue.

By the time I went back to my place, my account director came to me and reprimanded me for close to 20 minutes in front of everyone.

To make things worse just right before she arrive, a creative head came to me and said:

“You’re fucked up.”

Boom. There goes my first day.

As time passes, I was tasked to handle more accounts ranging from insurance, telco, construction and NGOs.

I had many occasions where I need to beg people to do stuff while still being fucked publicly. I went through great ordeals just to complete a single task.

I learned it the hard way that the real world doesn’t work like college days. No one gives a fuck about you unless you carry a certain weight. And most of the time, the way you carry yourself is matters a lot.

While all these experiences are difficult to swallow, it helped to build my character. I was way more battle seasoned and sensitive to bullshit.

During my 11th month with the company, things changed.

I don’t feel that it’s worth spending my time working so hard anymore.

It was a casual dinner gathering where my friends and I were talking about work life and how terrible it is.

During that session I realized that my peers were making more than 3K per month with their entry level jobs, I was sitting at a measly 2.3K.

I started to doubt my decision of joining the company. I felt imbalance.

I envied, I felt that my effort was belittled.

I think I am entitled for more.

While I’m still pondering on these thoughts, I went to meet with my client on weekly WIP, and he mentioned this:

“If publish this dual spreadsheet newspaper ad, how many units can I sell ah?”

Fuck.

What kind of business impact am I making? Does this even help the business?

I started to doubt my own hard work and time spent, and I went astray.

There is this very strong thought that keeps telling me to get out of here.

It tells me that I’ve been enduring all these nonsense for close to a year now, and I wasn’t making an impact (note: god knows what kind of impact I intend to make at that time), I even got hospitalized because of work!

What’s the fucking point of working here?

While I’m being disarrayed, I was lucky enough to be head hunted by a B2B company and I was bought over with immediate effect.

That’s how I exit the ad industry and went into a B2B manufacturing company.

My Second Job

I was hired to run digital marketing which I have absolute no idea how to, and somehow the company was desperate enough to buy me over! (Sorry Dalphine, just had to do that)

When I joined the company, I told myself that I need to be patient as fuck because I wanted to make things happen.

I may not know much about digital marketing execution now, but I’m pretty sure I’ll know something in the next 3-6 months time.

I spent a lot of time researching, studying at late nights to find out what work and what doesn’t work.

6 months down the road I manage to run PPC campaigns at 1/3 of the cost of industry benchmark, and most important of all, I manage to drive RM 400K revenue for the company, and there is more coming along the pipeline.

I picked up about funnel automation, how to generate leads from PPC and drive them down email automation and nurturing them into sales ready lead.

Google and Youtube was my only sifu back then.

Aside from my personal development and acquiring digital skills, nothing much changed actually. My opinion didn’t really matter, because even if I voice out, there is no guarantee that it will be executed.

I started to accept that.

I spent two years in this company, running many initiatives such as branding, sports club to digital marketing training sessions. It was an amazing journey.

I only left when I realized that I couldn’t grow as fast as I wanted to, because there isn’t enough data for me to mess around, to analyze and to understand.

I started to know what I want.

I wanted to be a person that is digital savvy. I wanted to be a data business hybrid because I found that not many can understand data and make business sense out of it, not to mention consumer behaviours.

I think I have that talent, and I need to find a place where I can shine.

And so I handed over my resignation letter without searching for a job.

How I Landed on My Current Job

My notice period was three months and worst of all, I didn’t have a clear direction on my whereabouts.

I only know that I needed to go to a place where they have a massive data pool for me to analyze with my limited Google Analytics skills.

While I am still pondering, I was offered a job as a marketing manager in a well known PC firm from my ex-colleagues in ad industry.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to proceed with that. Then I came across this company called Interbase Resources Sdn Bhd, or Lelong.my

They were looking for Digital Marketing Specialist.

I was excited and I went there for interview.

And I swear to you, this is the only company which I went for 5 times interviewand I got FFK-ed for 3 times.

During the interview, we discussed on many things such as Google PPC and how ad network works, but at the end of the day I told the founder that I wanted something more general.

I felt that specializing in programmatic media buying is somehow limiting for me.

My end game goal is to grow business, and to grow business you need a variety of vehicles. I didn’t like the idea of being specialized in just one field, I wanted a more generic approach that made more business sense.

Somehow someway, I landed my job as a category manager in Lelong.my which I’ve been working for more than a year now.

On and off I still receive invitations from various industries, and by invitation I mean, it’s not a random LinkedIn message you receive over the weekend.

It was a sincere 1 on 1 meetings over dinner or lunch to poach me over.

Frankly speaking, when I look back to how I started back then as a fresh graduate, I believe that I somehow felt entitled too, but reality hit me hard to demolish the entitlement.

I am not sure if I am capable enough to give advice to my juniors or fellow fresh graduates who are looking for jobs because throughout my journey, you can see that I was undecided and most of the time, unsure of what to do.

But what I can tell you is, all these experiences that I faced happened for a reason. It made me stronger, it made me realize the value of being patient, and most important of all, it helped me in understanding what I truly want.

If I didn’t work hard back then at my first job, I wouldn’t be able to get so many recommendations to different companies to-date.

If I didn’t go through the harsh environment where I have to beg production agencies to cut my videos for free (and somehow they did), I wouldn’t understand how valuable it is when someone is willing to put their trust in you.

I can’t tell you that there won’t be shit happening to you, just like how I didn’t expect to be publicly reprimanded on my first day.

 

All these experiences are not going for naught, but instead, it nurtured me and made me a better person (still a difficult person to please and work with).

So to dear fresh graduates and my fellow junior, here are a few things that I urge you to know:

You need to learn how to embrace things, even when the odds are against you.

You need to know how to stay calm even when shit is about to hit the fan.

You need to understand that good things come to those who wait (and of course you must be willing to put in the hard work).

Most important of all you need to be patient, be genuine and learn to be you.

2 comments

    • Wah surprise visit from you! Thanks for dropping by btw.

      Yeah of course it’s real! I had my fair share of blunders?.

      Don’t think anyone will get things all figured out and have a cookie cutter life.

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