briansjournal1

uncensored, unfiltered, thoughts

Category: Education

Winter Thoughts

I’m starting fresh and trying to make some changes for myself. I want to be a new person. I want to change problem behaviors that affect how I represent myself to other people. All my life I’ve learned to be a liar. All my life I’ve learned that lying was the way to get out a situation. Ever since I was a kid I would lie to my mom about stealing money from her purse or make up situations to make myself look cooler or make events seem more interesting. Real life isn’t about fabricating stories and entertainment. I’ve done it so much that lying hasn’t affected me when I do it. I’ve let this go on for far too long. A few weeks I made a promise to my girlfriend that I wouldn’t lie anymore and I’d avoid situations that would cause me to lie. I’ve been proud of myself because so far I’ve been honest about everything. It’s been very hard for me to stay honest so much because there are so many situations that call for me to lie – weird small little things that shouldn’t require the ‘need’ to lie but also situations where I feel the need to avoid responsibility like calling out of work because ‘something came up’ or rather the truthful answer, I just don’t want to come in. Honesty has always been tricky for me because even when I’m not doing anything that requires lying I feel the need to stretch the truth about events to make them sound so more dramatic. How does one stay honest 100% of the time anyway? How do you tell your boss that you hate your job or that you didn’t feel like coming in? I know there are certain things that should be held in but that wouldn’t be honest, now would it? I’ve just got to figure out the mechanics of this whole honesty thing I guess.

Speaking of changing myself, I’ve been seriously considering getting a tattoo which is a big deal since my Portuguese parents really disapprove of them . I also view tattoo much more seriously then kids of my generation do – it’s not a fashion statement or ‘cool’, it’s something that’s etched on your body forever. It has to have great meaning and always remind you of something.  My idea for the tattoo was getting Japanese kanji across my back from top to bottom with the characters for ‘Strength, Courage, and Honor’ – three values I want to always have and demonstrate. Strength to face situations that are challenging, courage to brave uncomfortable and unfamiliar territory, both personally and professionally, and honor to be respectful to others, embrace equality and open mindedness, and be good to others (ethical, honest, caring, etc.). If and when I do get this, I’m going to  search high and low to find a good artist who can make sure what’s written is representative of the language with the upmost accuracy. The last thing I need is the wrong meaning being given off by inaccurate translations!

Another thing I’m trying to change about myself is listening. I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say that I never learned how to listen to someone. We’re always taught from a young age on how to speak to others but never how to listen. I want to change that and my biggest issue is always trying to think of my response to what someone says while they’re speaking and cutting people off. I don’t want to do that to people anymore. That’s incredibly disrespectful. I’m often scared if I don’t think ahead of what I’m going to say that I won’t be able to respond. I need to let go of this idea and just be OK with not knowing how to respond right away. It’s truly an American idea when we expect an answer right away which is detrimental to proper communication. I want to be OK with forgetting what I was going to talk about and soaking myself in the other person’s words and reflecting on them. I want to stop controlling conversations and really listen. I often think that many wars could have been avoided if we would have given somebody the extra 10 seconds they needed to process your information and really listen to what they said in the first place. It’s a steep process because this is something that’s been ingrained in me. But, you know what? I’d rather not talk at all then continue to interrupt people. It’s just not fair and I don’t want to hurt or be offensive to anyone anymore.

Finally, it’s the week of finals – my favorite time of the year again where I reflect on how much of an idiot I am. OK, I take that back. I’m not an idiot but maybe it’s because I’m a young adult and don’t know where I fit in the world yet but I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. For example, my boss has been bugging out at work because things have been stocked wrong and part of me wants to say ‘that’s not me’ but part of me realizes that it probably is. I then question myself as to why I keep doing the wrong thing over and over again. Do I not care? Do I not understand? Am I trying to go too fast? Am I just too dumb to do things right? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. Sometimes I reflect on my intelligence and just end up becoming depressed. My parents grew up in poverty and didn’t have much education and so I would probably say that they’re not very smart. I wouldn’t call them stupid or anything but I don’t think they’re highly intelligent and since intelligence is in part genetic, I feel like sometimes I was born on the lower spectrum on the intelligence scale because of my parents. Now things like education and stuff like that can improve your level of intelligence quite a bit so often times I feel like I can escape this genetic trap but I don’t even know about that. For example, I get good grades in school and I do try to do my best but I don’t feel like I’m actually learning anything or that I’m smart. Maybe it’s because I’m not at a university yet where things are a lot more challenging or maybe it’s because all this theory shit is fine and dandy but applying it to real life is the difficult part but I just don’t feel like good grades translates to actual intelligence. I feel like I’m dumb when it comes to real life action – building something, following steps, etc. but can pick up on theory and stuff pretty easily.

So, as you can probably see this fear of being ‘smart’ and having practical knowledge and skills turn into this fear that while school may be going decent that maybe I’m just too stupid for a real job. I, like so many others want a high paying job that’s challenging, rewarding, and that I’m passionate about but I’m always worried that I’m not learning anything or that I’m not going to be able to remember anything worth a damn. I set goals for myself like learning a new skill and I practice it like crazy and then I stop because I get busy or whatever and then I forget everything. I’m passionate about business and procedures and I like learning it but as soon as finals are over, it’s all gone. I know it can be relearned but I get so scared, you know? Am I just going to forget everything that I learned in school, blow all this money, and end up working minimum wage for the rest of my life? One of my biggest fears in life is not being able to be independent and I feel like if I’m too dumb to apply what I learn in school to real life or if I forget everything that I’m not going to be successful in life. Trust me, I don’t like all or nothing thinking but I’m scared that I’ll be confined to low skill manual labor for the rest of my life, always hating what I do like my parents before me. I’m also scared of becoming like my schizophrenic brother who’s only ever had low skill, low pay jobs.

These feelings and thoughts are piling on distracting me from my studying for finals and I don’t want them to but it’s like I lose control of them sometimes. I don’t know. When I finally get the house quiet like this I just like to ponder about where I’m going in life and wonder where my place is in this world. Pretty deep questions I know but we all have a inner philosopher right?

Hopefully someday I’ll get an awesome job that I’m really good at it, love going to, and get paid lots of money so I can keep feeding my technology habit and need for sightseeing. Lol.

PS: Forgive my horrible grammar and spelling in this thing. I’ve long given up trying to have proper grammar, sentence and thought structure on this thing. As far as I’m concerned, getting thoughts down is more important than order. Life is random and has no reason sometimes and so that’s how I prefer to write sometimes rather than having some neat filter cleaning everything up.

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Revelations and Updates

Time for an update! Recently I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with the amount of exams I’ve had/will have these past few weeks. The timestamp of this post should probably be an indication of that. I’ve been procrastinating extensively because I’ve been lured away by into the beautiful world of computer build log forums especially this one called linustechtips. It’s a great site but it causes me to think about buying really expensive computer parts that I can’t afford on a minimum $8/hr job. The worse part about it that it’s kept me from my studying for some time now so this is why I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed in the first place. I’ve been going to bed at 3AM on school nights because I’ve been so mesmerized by people’s awesome computer builds and I’ve been up late researching ways on how to do these things. It almost seemed like an addiction because no matter how many times I told myself that I would get something done that day I would just slack off and browse these internet forums for a long period of time until it was too late or I was too tired to do anything. My reasoning was that if I could research what I wanted now and make plans on how to buy these things then I could be truly happy and then return to studying.

Well, now the problems begin! About a week ago I was browsing the internet looking for ways to secure a loan without credit (bad idea in the first place) and I stumbled upon this website that talked about getting a car title loan. I thought it was a scam but I filled out their online application and low and behold I actually got a call from someone two states away in New Hampshire. They explained the whole process (minus the actual financial details) and then I got this crazy idea that I would actually drive 80 miles up to this place and get a title loan. Well, I did and there were several red flags that should have stopped me from signing my life away to these loan sharks but I didn’t care because I wanted quick cash for a computer build. Well, they told me it would cost 22% interest, I would only be getting $850 financed even though my car is worth at least 3x that much and that the minimum payment would be substantial. Oh yeah, and they charged a $186 finance charge. So fast forward to now and I finally realized what I got myself into. I have to be popping $200 a month on interest on a $850 loan and if it takes me too long I might end up equaling or exceeding the amount borrowed in just interest! That’s getting close to a mortgage! It’s like a credit card bill. People like car finance places know what they’re doing. They’re loan sharks knowing that they’re always going to make massive profits over idiots like me who are too excited/too desperate for money that they would sign away to almost 4x higher than a bank’s interest! So, basically I’m in debt so I’m trying to sell as much of my unwanted/unneeded technology and working as much as I can at my minimum wage job to get the money I need. If my hours slip for any reason, I’ll end up having to pay out the ass for interest. I’m never doing this to myself again!!! The only legit real loan is the one you go to your bank about when you’ve established excellent credit and have a good job with steady pay that will allow you to pay it back quickly! This obsession over money has now spilled over into my studies and my need for increasing amount of hours is cutting into my study time which I consider very important so it’s really stressing me out. I’ve never experienced debt before and I don’t know how so many of us Americans can fall into it. You should never buy something that you can’t afford. That’s the danger of credit – it allows you to do that and has no safety net for when you do.

That’s enough about that.  Onward onto my plans for the future and my rants:
I read an interesting education article a few days ago that asked the question ‘does your college major really matter?’ and then it proceeded to explain how most students are seeing school as a means to an end rather than a learning experience and thus are coming out with lackluster critical thinking and communication skills. I think this guy hit the nail on the head. Everyone got into a big puff because he was debunking the whole college major thing – “Zomg, I’m an engineer! Don’t tell me a English major can get my job” – No one’s saying that. What the guy was trying to point out is that we’re telling kids that college is a way to secure a job when it’s not really as straightforward and clearcut as that. College is supposed to be a time for learning and skill development but it doesn’t really truly prepare you for a job – only related experience can do that. College teaches you about how to think and communicate. It teaches you to not take facts as undisputed truths and to delve deeper. We now live in a global environment so businesses are going to increasingly need strong problem solvers. This all starts with the proper education.  We need to teach kids the basics of communication and listening because these things are not being taught. We need to teach them how to study, we need to teach them how to think and inspire them to think; the one gift afforded to humans that allows us to change with our environment rather quickly.

It’s funny, I once read a review on Amazon on a Calculus textbook. The guy in the review was talking about how kids nowadays have everything dumbed down for them and how only 60 years ago the math textbooks of the day challenged kids a lot more and as a result that’s how we had the great wonders that emerged from the post-WWII era. He felt that kids nowadays don’t have the skills necessary to be able to survive in the workplace of the modern age. That made me think: are we really making things easier for kids? Are we truly not preparing them to enter the real world? Are we not inspiring the thinkers, inventors, writers, of this generation? Will this generation solve the greatest threats facing humanity as we know it?

I don’t know the answer to these questions because I’m a 22 year old kid going through the ‘system’ just like many other kids are but it does cause me to wonder. What are we lacking or how was the past better?

Finally, I’m going to wrap up this long and grammatically incorrect post with an idea I would like to to delve into deeper in the future: Remember that idea I had about a computer business? Still want to do that but I had an idea concerning an underlying problem in my city. It came to me when I remembered what Senator Mike Rodrigues said about my city – it has the potential to grow but no businesses want to expand here because this is a forgotten factory city. The workforce is not skilled enough to be able to fill the jobs that businesses need filled. He also told me how a local medical software company was changing all that by offering full time positions to programmers with associate degrees. Then it hit me, I should start a non-profit in my city to help get peoples technical skills up. Am I perfect for the job? No, some of my friends would make me look like a ape in front of a computer with their level of technical finesse and skill but I want to get people who have those skills and are passionate about helping others to join me in my efforts. I think this city has great potential but that potential is drying up what I like to call a vicious cycle and I think the only way out of it is proper affordable education. I want to offer free education on technical literacy to these students – real localized instruction utilizing state of the art instruction techniques and brain research – taking those who are computer phobic to intermediate programmer. Okay, maybe not that far but get these people started and skilled enough so that they don’t break into cold sweats when they see a monitor. Think about it: if my city has a more educated workforce I could possibly bring business here, I could succeed as a business because I could supply the big businesses, and best of all I could help the local new tech savy populace. People might think I’m crazy – that the only real tech savy people exist in sun bathed California but I wouldn’t knock these old factory workers for the count. There’s a market out there for IT and I may not be the best guy to find it/teach it but I want to lay the steppingstones so someone else can take over my work.

Maybe I’m glamorizing the whole thing but a clean office with a nice view helping my local community surely doesn’t sound that unreal to me!

-Over and out!

Fall 2013 Updates

I’ve finally quit Best Buy and found me a new job working at a liquor store. I find the oddest jobs sometimes but at least it’s in the city where I live – a first for me ever since I started working at the age of 18. Even though it doesn’t pay much, it saves me a bundle in gas which is important since I end up blowing most of my money by the end of the week on junk food and never end up saving up $20 bucks to get me through the week. I’m liking the environment so far.  Everybody is really showing me the ropes and taking the time to properly train me and go over everything. It’s a nice laid back small business atmosphere without policies about everything. Thank god because If I had to get people to buy vodka then I don’t think this place would be right for me. Lol.

Anyway, it’s midterm season and I keep  daydreaming about what my computer business will be like in the future as I learn new software. I have a clear idea of the atmosphere I want to set out and the type people I’d like to hire. The services and products, eh, not so much. This daydreaming worries me at the same time because I’m learning QuickBooks now and while it’s really simple to use, I feel like I still have a long way to understanding accounting because I’m finally actually working with real numbers instead of examples used out of the textbook. It’s far removed from the textbook learning I’ve done so far because I’m looking at typical small business sales of $20,000 a week. Big numbers for a small timer like me but collectively, it’s only a small fraction of what I might be managing someday. The pressure is on I guess…

Speaking of computers I want to set up a small home server, cloud storage for streaming music to my devices, and a HTPC which will be my main gaming machine and movie streaming machine to a 32″ LED TV (oh how I wish it was truly OLED) I’ll be getting for my room. Of course, this is going to cost me a ton of money and it’ll take me a while to get but hey if those guys who blow 10 grand on a exhaust can do it then why can’t I?

Like I said earlier this year, I want to set up a website to have discussions, debates, and everything else. It doesn’t seem like I’ve had much time to do any of that but it is still in the works in my test environment. That being said, I think if I have some time off during Thanksgiving that I’ll bust ass and try to get fully completed by then! I’d love to have the opportunity to talk to some of you guys!

I feel like a bum…

I write this not to put myself down but because I really feel like I haven’t accomplished much this summer and I kind of feel disappointed in myself. I told myself before the summer even started that there were three things I wanted to get accomplished: 1) study accounting and refresh myself to where I feel like I never left class 2) Learn Excel proficiently so I could really know how to use some complicated formulas and pivot tables and 3) refresh my memory on algebra so my business stats class coming up would be easier. So, far I’ve only gotten to chapter 2 of accounting and Excel and I haven’t studied any algebra.

I’m supposed to be getting getting or hoping to get an internship for the fall and they asked me if I’d be available for their audit. Without remembering on how to do even the basics I’d feel awful if I messed up some of their financial records because I don’t know what I’m doing. Audits are huge deals and every penny has to be accounted for. If it’s not, they could face huge fines. So, I’m really worried that I’m not going to get caught up in time. Also, if my Excel skills aren’t on par and I don’t have internet access to look up how to do things, when I’m asked to make sense of some data, I’m going to be scrounging around learning how to put in different formulas and writing my own. I feel if I don’t get my studying done quickly to where I feel comfortable accepting this internship that I would just cause more bad than good.

As for the algebra, I don’t know how involved business statistics is in that kind of stuff but I’m pretty sure I need at least a good working knowledge of it to be able to succeed in that class. They even list it as a requirement course if you didn’t score high enough to place out of it. Luckily I did, but I don’t want to be stuck in a stats class where they’re talking about the quadratic formula and polynomials and I have no clue what’s going on. I’ve looked up my stats teacher on ratemyprofessor and she’s been voted as hard so that makes me worry even more. I just hope I can get through this class because stats is useful in anything. I’d actually like to learn this stuff even if the teacher is a bit of a snob (have heard that from other students and have met her a couple of times and she comes across as one).

Finally, as for new updates, I’ve finally quit that god damn Home Depot job. I’ve been able to land a computer sales gig at Best Buy. Yes, it’s still retail and the pay isn’t great but I finally get to be out of the sun and into some AC and get to be around technology, albeit, overpriced, but still! To be in an environment where I actually care about what I’m selling as opposed to toilets and lawnmowers is great. I hope to really contribute to this job because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do (I want to own my own computer business after all). I’ve been trying to stay on top of new technologies (like understanding Haswell and staying on top of AMD’s steamroller upcoming CPU generation) before my orientation to really be on the ball. The mobile processors always still trip me up because all I know is that they have better integrated graphics and they consume less power.

I’ve also been able to purchase my video card and although I’ve been getting some weird black dot graphics errors (due to AMD’s drivers not always been updated), I have no complaints. The card is a Sapphire 7970 Vapor X. The thing has been silent when I’ve run my games and that’s a really good relief! I thought it was going to be overpowering loud. It makes me happy because this is my first time getting into PC gaming and I’m actually enjoying it a lot better. Borderlands 2 is my game of choice for now along with some Minecraft. I can’t FPS worth shit but the game [Borderlands 2] is hilarious and fun so it’s definitely worth the hours of me trying to get my aim down.

As for the upcoming website, that’s going to be on the back-burner for a little bit (I certainly have some cool ideas for it so I hope you stay tuned). I’ve run into some unexpected expenses and I’ve got books and a vacation (hooray!) to pay for in the upcoming month so that’s really gonna take a toll on me. I also plan to get a secured card and contribute at least $200 and keep upping to up to raise my credit limit. I hope this will be the start of a good credit history because I have student loans to pay for in the upcoming year and since my parents pay for everything in cash they have virtually no credit like I do. Thus, I can’t rely on them for cosigning a loan and so I need a decently high credit score to help me get a loan. I want to live on campus after all!

Quick Update

Got my new chair from Ikea today. For anyone who is wondering, it’s called the Ikea Markus. While it’s not the top of the line $1500 dollar  German chair, it will suffice (at least my initial opinions tells me it will). I am getting closer to finishing the computer. Just need a new GFX card (7950) so I can get dual monitors set up and and a nice sound card. Everything after that will be accessories such as fans, keyboard/mouse,  printer, etc.

I hope to get my website up by next month so I will start working on that ASAP! I will be keeping a list of updates of my build on there. Again, I hope to see you guys all there when it’s created. It will be a hangout corner where you can talk about whatever you want, have discussions, and share your artwork. I don’t plan to compete with huge websites like Deviantart or anything but a website of a few regulars would make for a great time!

Anyway, as for employment updates, I’ve been applying to more places to finally be able to quit Home Depot. I’ve also looked at some of KPMG’s material for personal branding. It goes over how to take everything about yourself such as your values, skills, knowledge, interests, and goals,  and put it all into one complete package you can use as your brand, just like a business brand. You can then present that to an employer. Part of that is keeping track of your accomplishments whenever you do something so you can better relay that information to employers. This is why, like I’ve said in a previous post, I’m going to keep a accomplishment journal with a list of stories/surrounding context so I’ll have concrete examples to make answering those behavioral questions a breeze.

As for getting those accomplishments, I’m going to try to keep my time busy with all sorts of school activities and events. I want to get into tutoring, join/start a book club, be part of honors groups, do Student Senate again (great experience), and just generally get involved in everything my future school(s) have to offer.

By the way, if any of you have any suggestions for how to score more accomplishments that are relevant to the business world, I’m all ears! Getting into the Big 4 is one of my major goals! Public accounting may not turn out to be my cup of tea but it would give me invaluable experience dealing with difficult and stressful situations.

PS: My school has invited me for a second (limited time) offer to participate in the Commonwealth Honors Program which involves research into areas of our majors, a culminating project, and a honors class. It really helps distinguish you as a student in a community college. I’m thinking about doing it but it does involve a ton of work! On average, you’ll spend 20+ hours studying per project and you need to do four by a specific deadline. Therefore, I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it with all the stuff I have going on.

Thoughts about Employment

When applying for a job, think of yourself as a marketing brochure

I forget where I heard this quote from but it couldn’t better explain how to get a job. I actually got a call back from Bank of America for a teller position that they had. The recruiter called me today for my phone interview and I think I did great but unfortunately, due to my availability, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to continue with their hiring process and nag the job.

As I was going over some accounting stuff today and studying for it (finally!), I realized that wages are the biggest expense that a company incurs. Thinking from it their perspective, a new employee really is a loss to a company for a year. This greatly gets compounded when they lack certain experience. So, really, a job search shouldn’t be about what the business can do for you, it should be about what YOU can do for the company. How can you improve their business? What have you done for prior businesses to help them improve that you can transfer over to this business (this is where related job experience comes in)? Putting down great volunteer accomplishments or unrelated job accomplishments is great but it doesn’t help the recruiter or person interviewing you get a clear picture of what you would do for that particular business. For example, if you really went out of your way to help a customer at a retail job, that’s great. But how does that experience relate to XYZ corp. that specializes in sales? Remember, your past accomplishments and experience should directly relate to the job you’re applying for. This is why having related job experience can make it easier for you to tailor those experiences to the field you’re applying to.

Putting myself in this mindset really helps me focus and understand what a CV and resume is about. It should make the employer want to buy you just like a customer would want to buy a product off a shelf. Have you ever read the box that the product you bought came in? It lists all it’s features and how they benefit you (save money on this energy efficient hard drive. Locate the fastest routes to help you save money on gas for your trips.) Well, you have to make the company feel like they’re not going to be taking as big a loss when they hire you as opposed to another candidate (because all businesses experience a loss when they first hire a candidate as they get accustomed to the job).

The big problem for me is this: I haven’t worked many jobs. My very first job was at the age of 18 at Walmart. I hated every second of it and got fired shortly after getting it (2.5 months in). I now work at Home Depot and have a work study position at my school assisting students with our eLearning system (I love the work-study job). I’m just starting to get worried as time flies by and I haven’t got related jobs in my field (accounting/finance). This also brings me to my next point: Is four years of school really long enough to learn all you need to really be a good candidate for a job? Like right now, I’m trying to refresh myself on Excel which I had learned about two years ago. I could study all summer and still not be very good at this which really makes me question if students nowadays really have enough time to practice and hone their skills before they can go into their fields. How can we be  incredible candidates in our respective fields if we don’t have the time to properly learn the skills we need to do our jobs? Maybe the problem really lies in the fact in that we forget about a lot of what we learn in school. We take a class in college, we understand the material for a while and then we never use it again. We don’t have an opportunity to teach it to someone else, we don’t practice it or keep studying it, and we don’t make use of it in our daily lives and therefore when the time comes that we could have used this information or knowing that information makes the difference between making you a good or excellent candidate for a job; then it’s too late.

I guess this post is more about figuring out this work world thing and my way as a student in the business world. I hope I’ll be good at this stuff. I want to come back to school after my masters (with my own saved up money) and get a second associates in computer networking. I would really like to learn about that stuff and possibly pick up a side gig.

Internship Interview and accomplishments journal

I’m sitting here in my JC Penny suit typing this but I’m happy and disappointed at the same time. I had my interview today for an accounting internship I’m planning on doing for a drug rehab/mental health facility that’s local to my community. The interview was very casual with questions like “tell me about yourself” and “what do you know about us?” Despite being casual, my responses were not very mind-blowing. I couldn’t stop talking about myself when I was asked and when it came time to ask them questions or to answer the question of what I knew about them, I didn’t have much to say! I didn’t prepare enough for the interview nor did I do enough research before hand (if you can call reading a snippet off their website 30 mins. before the interview research). I can’t believe I would walk into a job interview like that! I feel like an idiot.

Despite all that, I realized something: If I don’t get this internship, it’s not because they’re a bunch of jerks or that I’m not qualified, it’s that I just need to use this as an opportunity to better myself and my interview skills. Thinking back on it, I didn’t really do that bad. My qualifications weren’t outstanding but I think I made a good impact. Hopefully I get this thing!

In the meantime, I’ll keep studying and practicing the skills I’m trying to improve on.

Here’s a list of skills I’m currently working on:

-Having patience
-Communicating and listening (need better soft skills!)
-Excel/Quickbooks
-Algebra/Calculus
-Review of accounting principles
-Computer networking/Linux/command line

PS: I’ve had this idea for an accomplishment journal. It would be an online journal either in WordPress or Evernote where I would make a list of accomplishments to date that I’ve done and stories and background information on how I achieved them. I would update it as soon as I achieved something at work/school so that I could always remember that moment.  That way, when I get into the real big interview, with really hard questions like “what’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?” or “how did you persuade your team on an idea that they disagreed on” I could pull a story out of my back pocket without making anything up.

Leadership Conference and Reorganization

I’ve been away for four days at the National Conference for Student Leaders in Boston, Massachusetts. I got back home today at noon and took a ridiculously long nap due to my roommates incessantly loud snoring (more on that later).

It all started when I signed up for the conference on the day of registration. I had been waiting forever for my job to approve me for vacation hours so that I could get approved time off to be able to take this trip since retail seems to assume that your weekends will forever belong to them for $8 a hour. They finally approved me ON THE DAY of the registration so I thought I was going to miss my chance to attend my first ever conference. I was very fortunate that I didn’t miss the boat!

Fast forward a little bit to 2 days before the conference and I’m starting to panic. I don’t know what to wear, where the conference is exactly, if people are going to carpool (since parking in Boston is incredibly expensive!), and what time we should get ready. Our advisor sends us a quick email addressing these concerns but nothing about carpooling. The thing is, we had briefly discussed carpooling at our Student Senate meeting a week prior to the event (which is way too late if you ask me) and everybody was complaining about how their cars were too small. Since I didn’t hear anything from anybody about it till the day of the conference  I assumed we weren’t doing that and everyone was going to find their own way.

It’s the morning before the conference and I’m sleeping in till 10 because I feel like I have plenty of time to get some stuff ready. I didn’t realize how much stuff I’d really need until later and consequently I had to rush like a madman. It was incredibly hectic and stressful! I was running to the ATM to get cash for parking, I couldn’t find my card, then I headed home and I couldn’t find some other stuff and the whole morning was like this. Finally, I quickly pull up some directions and decide I’m going to take the train. If I park at the train station parking lot, it would only cost $3 a day for a total of $12 bucks total, way cheaper than the $32 a day price tag of the hotel parking. By this time it’s already 11:15 and I’m supposed to be on the train at 11:45. I have 30 minutes to drive 36 miles up to Brockton, find a parking spot, get on the train, and get my ticket all combined with the weight of 3 bags and a laptop computer that I have in my hand. This was a stupid idea to begin with but I wanted to do this train thing because it would save me a lot of money on parking and I wouldn’t have to worry about directions. I end up getting there 5 minutes to late and the train takes off. They next train isn’t till 1:18 and even the one that’s a few cities away takes off at 12:45  which would put me way past the time of my first keynote presentation.

Finally, I just decide to drive there and that’s when I see six missed calls and three texts from people who waited on me for 20 minutes asking if I wanted to carpool. Man, I was angry and embarrassed at the same time! Why the hell did they wait last minute to bring this up?! I thought we weren’t doing that because no one talked about it! This was surely a breakdown in communication. You don’t just tell people that last minute! As for feeling embarrassed, yeah, I felt awful. I kept these guys waiting for 20 minutes, while they kept calling me not knowing where I was. That’s incredibly embarrassing for anybody. You just end up looking like an asshole because of stuff like that.

Anyway, I’m driving along and things are going relatively well until my GPS keeps recalculating me. Like any big city, Boston keeps changing its street names and its landscape keeps changing so the GPS is freaking out. I’m trying to stay composed but eventually I’m just incredibly pissed at the city for being the cause of me being lost. Not student representative worthy behavior at all! I end up getting lost in the garage trying to find the exit and not having been in a garage in a while I didn’t realize that the exit would just take me down a level. The level you begin with is always the highest level and if you go up, you’re actually going down. I eventually make it to the lobby all flustered and angry and I go up to check-in, not realizing my advisor had already checked us in and gotten our keys. They told me they couldn’t find my reservation and I was about ready to go off on them. I finally see my advisor and the rest of my group, she hands me my key and I couldn’t be happier to just finally be in my bed. Turns out I wasn’t as late as I thought and I was able to join everyone for the keynote presentation.

So, now finally for the conference part, I really enjoyed all my seminars. Every one of the presentations were really inspiration and full of good information. One of them was called: The Single Technique to Improve College Success which taught us mindfulness training, which for those of you don’t know is composed of breathing exercises and exercises to separate your thoughts from your mind. Call it weird, but it takes a lot out of the equation when you don’t have to get distracted or bogged down by thoughts while you’re trying to listen or are working on something. This technique is used by large companies like Google and Intel.

Another seminar I attended was one by this presenter called Hoan Do. He was funny and spoke very well. He had two seminars, but one that I particularly enjoyed was called “How to Stop Setting Goals and Start Achieving Them.” One thing I really loved about that presentation was something he said and it went like this: “The point of a goal isn’t to achieve it, it’s the changes that happens as you put 100% into working towards it that matter. Achieving it is just an added benefit.” That really inspired me and some of the tips of setting goals like being very specific and using the analogy of a blurry picture and GPS were excellent. They really stuck in my mind.

I think the reason these seminars and this entire conference went so well was not only because they were very informative but because they were engaging. Every one of them had us doing activities, talking to other people, laughing, asking questions, and sharing ideas. I think they all did a really good job in keeping us prepared.

One thing I became ashamed about was my tardiness to a lot of the events due to me being confused as to where they were, being lazy in waking up, etc. That really must have looked bad and I felt like that was particularly embarrassing to myself and the school. I don’t want to put myself down or sound paranoid, but I honestly feel like some of my group mates must have said something about that among themselves. I don’t blame them.

Anyway, as for the reorganization part of this post. About a few months ago, me and these 2 computer science kids started this club called the BCC Technology Club (BCC standing for our community college). It would be open to all students and the open web (so anyone on the internet). We wanted to create a space of learning and helping each other where people could teach other technology stuff and make learning technology fun through several different activities and events. Fast forward to today and I’ve put in a good amount of work into the club and my other officers have been deadbeats. I took the position of treasurer out of respect for my friend who came up with the idea and because I think it would aid in my accounting experience for which I hope to get internships for in the future. I came so close to quitting the last few days but I never did because I truly believe in our mission. I wanted a club that would serve people and help people become more interested in technology and give them something they could take home with them. I wanted a club that members could truly put on their resumes. We’ve only had 2 events so far which were discussion based and none of them were remarkable. Our turnouts have been deplorable and by June, the Student Senate will be asking for a report on how many events we did and their turnouts. With so little events and turnouts, we could lose our funding. I feel like some of my other officers are sick of hearing this and think its a joke, but it’s really not. This whole club has come close to failing because of the members lack of motivation and participation and the same with my officers. The fucked up part is they both truly believe in the mission and want to help but they don’t take the actions necessary to do that. That’s what hurts me the most. So, I’ve called a meeting on Tuesday of this week with them and our advisor to reorganize. This reorganization might involved the removal of some officers and preparation of new ones. This might leave hard feelings with some people and that’s the last thing I want. But ultimately, it just boils down to business and they still have the ability to be kept on as members if they wish to contribute.

Overall, the conference was great and I learned a lot. I can’t wait to go to more.

As for the club, I hope to really see it succeed and help a lot of people at our school and wherever. I don’t want this idea to die.

**I’ll update this on the deets of the conference, my roommates, and all that jazz later in future posts**

Feel free to share any thoughts or comments on this particular post. If you are part of any student organizations on your campus, or if you are a leader of any sort or have ever started a club, I want to hear from you! What’s the most challenging part of your job? How do you get students to participate in activities you plan on having? How do you deal with difficult coworkers?

Sickness and the Working Out Summer

So, I feel like shit today. Recently, about a week ago, even though I continued to eat healthy, I had a little cube of cottage cheese along with my salad and that threw me off. I instantly started feeling pain and pressure on my back. At that point, I realized it was the possibility of gallstones again. I quickly looked up a way to get rid of them naturally online because the thought of undergoing a surgery that would throw me out of school and work for a week, and the digestive issues that might arise later did not appeal to me.  I found something saying that I should drink apple juice for 5 days in a row to soften them, drink epsom salt mixed with warm water to open my ducts up on the sixth day( today) and drink by the far the grossest thing I’ve ever drank – olive oil mixed with lemon juice. So, I did it. I spent a ton of money on apple juice and drank more servings than they recommended (which was 4 cups – the whole bottle was 7 servings so I was having 7 cups a day) I didn’t realize I was drinking the wrong amount of servings till today. No harm done, I suppose.

I then go to work this morning and everything’s fine – a beautiful cold morning and I go to eat lunch. Tuna fish and a salad. My salad was supposed to be left alone because I don’t like dressing but somehow some olive oil made it’s way on there. I didn’t mind it too much even though I think that pollutes the taste of the salad and makes it taste worse but hey, I gobble it down because I’m getting my veggies today, dammit. Well, apparently olive oil is suppose to ease the stones through your ducts out of your system. Well, I go back to work, and one or more of them get stuck. By stuck, I mean I feel something crawl down my back and then a sharp stabbing pain in my back. There is literally a stone stuck in ducts and I have no way to ease it down. I realized quickly this wasn’t going to be good. If I let it continue to be like that, I could develop an infection, inflammation, or even worse, pancreatis. As much as I didn’t want to miss work after only having 2 days on this week, I had to accept the lower paycheck for my health.

I rushed home and I took some of the Epsom salts – certainly not the best stuff I’ve tasted but tolerable. I fell asleep and set a alarm so I could wake up in two hours to take another dose. That made me feel amazing. It was then time to drink the nastiest concoction to defile my mouth – olive oil mixed with lemon juice. God, how I nearly hurled every single time. I drank a bunch of water afterwards but the taste still stays in mind. God awful. I’m hoping this whole natural remedy thing combined with my healthier eating will do something for me. I’m really scared to go under the knife – I don’t know what the deal is with my insurance, I don’t want to miss time or school and I just want to be better already. I’ve spent my whole Saturday at home just feeling miserable. I can’t sleep because I’m not tired but I can’t focus and work on any homework or study because I got a fever and my head is killing me.

I just hope I feel better soon – I want to be able to go out tomorrow after work or be productive.

In other news,  there has been some other changes for the positive. Today, I finally took the leap and got myself a gym membership. I hope make use of this thing and the first step is the hardest with this stuff. I mean, the only time I’ve ever worked out was in high school and that was because a friend was pestering me to go with him. So, I go, never had gone before and all I remember is all I could bench was 65 pounds, (the bar being 45 with 2 10’s on each side). I threw an 80 on and I almost dropped the bar on my throat and killed myself. After embarrassing myself, I didn’t want to go back.

I’m going to be walking into those same feelings again when I walk into the gym for the first time. I’m going to feel so out of place, but I really want to change my body. I can see that I have the potential to really look cut and become better than what I am. The whole point of me joining the gym is to see what that potential is throughout the summer and fall semester. By the end of this year, if I worked hard, I want to say this is what I was able to achieve, with a 6 pack and a bench weight of 120-160. That would be great.

Also, I was so happy to receive an email the other day saying that I got accepted into the Student Senate! I was so proud of myself. I honestly had counted myself out and was telling my girlfriend how sad it was that I didn’t get picked. I figured since I didn’t get an email from them when they send they were going to announce the candidates that I was out of the count because I didn’t get one on the day. What a welcome surprise to get that email the next day. So, now I’ve recently been looking into parliamentary procedures and how to conduct a formal meeting.  I hope I feel better so I can really get involved. In addition to that, there’s a possibility for me to join the budget committee of the school – which means as a student representative – I’d be helping with the operating budget of a school of 9,000 students! Pretty freaking sweet if you ask me. So, I’ll have to get more info and some more dress clothes but that would look great on my resume. I just hope I can live up to people’s expectations and have a semblance of knowing what the hell I’m doing!

That’s it for now.

Changes

Getting B’s as of late and eating differently has got me thinking…I think I’m going to enact some changes soon. I’ve really been thinking about it and while Bridgewater is a nice school, Amherst is a beautiful college town, there’s lots to do there, and I have faith in the school to prepare me for accounting.

So, I’ve recently filed my FAFSA and I’m going to be applying to the school come spring 2014 if I can get my fall Stats class out of the way. Speaking of which, I have recently submitted an application to apply for a directed study – which basically places me in a one on one class with an instructor so I can take the stats class out of sequence in the fall instead of the spring. I’m hoping I get it because I want to quickly move to this city and start living the university life – I mean I love my community college but I honestly just want to move on and experience new scenery. I want to seriously dedicate myself to something education wise. I feel like I’m lacking in so many skills from communication to listening to technical. I want to get better at it at all.

I also can’t wait to live on my own! If I can get housing there in one of their student apartments, I’ll be in heaven! I’ll finally be able to cook for myself and not have my mom cook me stuff I don’t necessarily want to eat because either 1) I don’t like it or 2) it’s unhealthy. Either way, I’ll finally get to hone my cooking skill and make some delicious, healthy food.

As we’re on the healthy food topic, every day I’ve been getting a huge Chinese food paper thing (those huge containers) of leafy green salads – no croutons, or salty additives and no fatty or salt salad dressing. God, it churns my stomach eating so many vegetables, but I’m getting used to it quickly. The second time I ate a huge thing of salad, my body felt amazing. My heart rate began to slow (and it’s never slow because I have high blood pressure) and I honestly felt so much more energized. For $5, I got a cup of fruit, a nice big water and a huge thing of salad, that’s way better than the crap I was putting into my body for a long time.

It sounds bad but ever since I started going out with my girlfriend, she would never want to eat at my house or want me to cook us dinner so we’d always end up going out to eat at fast food. Now, my mom knew I didn’t like vegetables even as I grew older so she always used to cook red meats which was bad in itself, but couple that with 3 years of fast food, almost weekly, sometimes even more regularly than that, and I was just asking for trouble. My girl, about a year ago, had to get her gallbladder removed due to gallstones which were caused by her excessively poor diet and recently I was feeling much of the same pain. Fuck that. The habits of eating fast food are hard to phase out and my friends are always telling me about new awesome foods that are very unhealthy, but I’m not doing it anymore. I can’t. I really honestly want to make a commitment to eating healthier. Eat a salad every day at school and get the right amount of veggies, eat 2 or more cups of fruits a day, and start working out and exercising (which seems to be something I only do when I’m at work since I walk and stand around a lot)

Finally, for this summer I have three main goals. For my first goal, I want to study the Principles of Accounting all over again so I can become very familiar with it which will leave me better prepared for school. It will also better help me decide if accounting is right for me. My second is goal is to study Excel like a maniac. I’m the weird guy who actually loved picking up the book ‘Excel, the Missing Manual’ and enjoyed practicing the stuff it was talking about. I only got up to the fourth chapter, to the point where I lost the chance to begin reading it again since I’ve been so busy, so I see the summer as a prime time to pick it up again and become a Excel guru. I really think it will give me an edge and would open up employment opportunities for me, (along with the fact coupled with the fact that all accountants need to know Excel! Lol) Finally, third, I want to study Calculus in depth and for real this time. I’m really fucking around in that class and just trying to get through it. I’ve never had that mentality for a class before because I’ve always seen value in my classes and the value of trying hard in them, but I’m really not retaining the information in this class  and honestly, I shouldn’t even be in it because my Algebra needs a lot of refreshing. The most critical thing to Calculus is being an Algebra master. Without that, I’m really just trying to save myself from drowning by clinging on to anything I  can find around me!

As for goals right now, I’m really trying to refine my studying. I’ve been rewriting my notes from all my classes. It sucks because for a month and a half I didn’t do this so it’s been taking forever. Prior to this, I was disappointed in the 80’s I was getting for tests and quizzes this semester so I finally typed in ‘How to study’ on Google, clicked the first link, and read this wonderful article. By the time I finished reading it, I decided to buy a bunch of notebooks and redo my studying strategy. Some of the tips are self explanatory but honestly, I’ve noticed that rewriting my notes and taking the time to SLOWLY read the chapter really helped my understanding. Previously, I found myself reading a chapter from a textbook like it was a novel and never stopping to take the time to really understand the stuff. It may have said ‘see Figure so and so’ and I wouldn’t even give it a glance.Now, I’m trying to do my best to slowly organize my class notes into freshly rewritten notes which helps me retain concepts and understand the information better. I’m also doing the 3R method to help me study for exams, which involves reading something, reciting everything I read in the chapter from memory and my understanding of it, and then reading the chapter again. The key to the reading though is like I’ve said above:  reading it slowly, and constantly asking why, or interpreting the information. If anyone is interested in reading the article, you can find it here.

That will be all for this post!

PS: I recently applied for the Student Senate at my school and I hope I can get in. They will be holding votes in the fall so I’ll be an interim member for now, but it would be a great experience. I could definitely develop my leadership, communication, and team work skills in something like that. They also have lots of events, which will keep me involved in my school before I transfer, which is awesome since the school club I started isn’t doing so great. The only issue with all those events is they are very time consuming and they might affect my ability to do well in school which I hope it will never come to that if I get picked. Hopefully, this should be a wonderful experience if I make it!