Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Re. Start

Ever since I left my cushy job at CNN Philippines, I have been hopping from one job to the next for two years now.

First I tried going back to an advertising agency but it turned out to be more of an events agency, so the fit wasn’t great; I stayed there for only half a year. When I left I told myself, that’s it, no more advertising agencies for me. After several months of burning whatever savings I earned from there, I was desperate for a job, so I applied for a job at a call center seven minutes away from our house. My schedule was turned upside-down (our client was US-based), but at least there was no traffic going to and coming back from work. The work itself was demanding and stressful—it’s no joke to be in that line of work, so I learned never to say, “He’s just a call center agent.” But despite that, the pay was not enough to even cover the cost of paying for my car. So when my friend Louie called me out of the blue and offered me a higher-paying job, I immediately jumped at the chance. I didn’t even give my call center employers a month’s notice; I gave my resignation letter around 9am; by lunch time, I was cleared by their HR (it helped that I was there for less than two months). I left the call center even though Louie’s offer was for an advertising agency position. What helped me convince myself were two things—the much-higher pay, and the fact that this was going to be an in-house creative agency for a ginormous multinational client. “An ad agency with a twist,” I told myself.

One month into my new job, I knew there was trouble brewing for me. I can see the reasons why Louie got me, but after a month of knowing more the job and my teammates, I realised that I was not the best fit for my position. Someone else with other qualities more suited for the job should be there. If I were to stay and be good at my job, I really needed to grow into the role. Luckily (or unluckily?), Fate intervened.

Let’s go back several months ago, when I had just left my job at an advertising/events agency, and way before I took on the call center job.

Even before my last day in at the agency, I was already looking for opportunities outside of the advertising industry—and outside of the country. Yes, I was very much okay with being away from the Philippines for the next six years. I saw a job as senior copywriter for an online marketing company based in Bangkok. Even better, I knew someone, a Filipino, who currently works there. He assured me it was a good, stable company. So I immediately applied, took their online tests, and forwarded to them some of my published works. Then I waited.

And waited. And waited.

By December my funds were non-existent; and it was Christmas time! I asked my friend in Bangkok what the status of my application was. He assured me that I was being seriously considered, but unluckily, December was also the time when most of the decision-makers there were on leave.

I took the call center job, thinking that it’s temporary.

By January I asked my friend again. He said it was just a toss-up between me and a local Thai girl. I though, “That’s not good. A local girl will cost less compared to an expat.”

When Louie called, I snapped up his offer. And in my mind, I shrugged off Bangkok.

January faded into February, and I was getting a better handle on my new role. In fact, I had decided that I would need to step up and evolve for this job. I even started hunting for places to stay near our office in BGC, so I don’t need to wake up at 4:45am to get to BGC by 7am so I can have a spot in the parking lot.

Towards the end of February, I received an email from Bangkok.

Apologies for the delay, they said. But the reason why they took so long in getting back to me was because they were busy setting up an office—in Manila! Specifically, in Ortigas! Then they asked me, “Are you still interested?”

Weeks of interviews and negotiations later, I told Louie I was resigning. I told him on Good Friday.

Tomorrow is my last day of work in BGC. On Monday next week, I start in Ortigas.

This was two years of jumping from one job to the next, grabbing whatever was available. The Bangkok-now-turned-Ortigas job was something I wanted. As my friend Leigh said, everything else was out of desperation; this was out of desire.

(Of course, there are no perfect jobs. So good luck to me in this new journey.)

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