Monday, March 2, 2009

[Q&A] Reader Tracy's reply and her new thougts

This is an email from reader Tracy, who's a junior student major in Human Resources.
Background: Some of you may have read the previous email discussion between me and Tracy regarding her situation, LINK -->[Questions from an HR major student].

It was nice to receive her follow-up reply with her own thoughts. And I was totally surprised to see how she spent time doing her own due diligence and the made efforts towards her goal across the stint.

Her situation plus her own perspective on career planning is interesting to me and I trust it will be interesting to readers. I also bold a few things out that’s particularly worth attention.

Tracy cao
to Steward Du
Date Sat, Feb 28, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Hi Steward,

I read your cordial advices time and time again and appreciate that you were hit the right nail on my head. The advices package, some of which I've already knew, some not for sure, and those I heard for the first time exerted a systematic concept and attitude about career planning.

I'll tell you my understanding towards your words, if it meets your expectation, how they influence my behavior and what's going on after that for your reference.

More than suggestions.
-'Keep it simple and stupid'. It’s worth learning that you clearly decomposed my problems, indicate the key points from ambiguous expression, provide solutions respectively, and give execution plans step by step based on your own personal expertise. Be well organized before to be a consultant. See? I'm trying.

-'Do not share until you have it'. I used to share more stable and mature ideas after fully contemplation and practice. I have to say it's always blocking my way of thinking, coz most of the time, I can't summarize or conclude my previous performance in time and thus may not have the chance to learn from the past. When I read one of your posts which plays an index of previous articles, it was like, boooom, how can't I come up with this creative idea! Keep modifying and avoid over-organized. Hope I catch your philosophy of doing things and I bet it's the commonness of successful people.

Well, above are my first impressions on your post and it's truly enough for thinking and learning. Then I would have you discuss about things happened after I read your email as examples to show the process I achieved a better self-realization.

iSteward Note:Telling others your thoughts and findings are crucial when you're sending out your question especially to someone you newly contact. As you see, Tracy has done a good job because she did exhaust some resource available to find out something on her own before sending out questions. Otherwise, you're risking yourself as not being mindful of somebody's time.
A) Overseas interview
I had a final telephone interview with a Canadian monopoly enterprise in chemical field after resume screening and a pre-talk interview. Though it's an international HR intern position and sounds has little connection with consulting, I actually learned a lot through the preparation and the one-hour interview with a senior executive at 2:00 A.M

- Focus barely on the competences, no worry about academic background.
The interview can be seen as an experiment which tests how much influences academic background have on the very employment decision in a way. Since the oversea enterprise has almost no sense of Chinese universities and too much international candidates to choose from, they're barely focus on the competences and past relevant experiences.
iSteward Note:Overseas internship options are great opportunity and sometimes each school has its own program/channel of application, making the competition within a smaller cycle. But one should really take initiative to stay informed of such programs, eg. by extending his/her network through self-driven outreach especially with faculty in campus career center. (However, some of these programs are costly and some of them are sponsored by scholarship)
- I failed not because I’m lack of preparation but experiences indeed.
If there are some interviews during which I behaved in a brash way, I'll never regret this time for I were prepared in an all-round manner. The behavioral interview, I think, demonstrated my past experiences well and this time certainly, the employer gave kind words of praise on project management and effective communication skills. But I'm not going to deny that there still a gap between her expectation, when it comes to towards some very professional questions, I was at a loss.

- Advanced HR also highlights research and IT skills
When asked about my weakness but essential to the position, the employer indicated high-standard research and IT skills because the position required candidate to mainly assist execute balance score card of business strategic units and employment survey or trend. Maybe advanced HR career does not against consulting career, I suppose, coz they all hunger for research and IT skills. Or it's too early for me to make a final decision just as you said, before I have to make that very decision, I still got long way to accumulate general capabilities.

B) Rejected offer
Knowing my weakness and strangeness, I clearly understand what should be expected in my path ahead. I rejected an admin internship offer at China development research foundation after weighing all the sides. I understand admin work also can help me to get a picture of the operation and core business of an organization, but this time I would prefer to practice research and IT skills by myself. Your blogs indicates several ways to practice those skills, they're bloody useful.

C) A real consulting project
'You can't anticipate how a contact may help you in the future', I agree, though it may make me a little bit uncomfortable in the past. My professor kindly offers me an opportunity to assist her in a real consulting project for local commercial bank with several postgraduate students. I believe it's a brand-new start for me and the best way to understand something is do it rather than dream it, right?
iSteward Note:Yes, getting to know what you really need is important: a big name internship experience on your resume or development of skills in real practice (they don’t always coexist, agree?). Sometimes, those skills can be gained through self-studying even before you start a job. For example, if you’re still at school, try to find opportunities to work jointly with senior students, even professors. There’re team projects in your course and various kinds of business plans contest out there. They’re all good chance to expose yourself to new ways of thinking and various kinds of skillsets. Plus, they’re usually easier to get, especially if finding a decent internship is tough this year.

I trust you’ve made a good decision for yourself. Once you get your hands on and start out doing something, you got spun-up on the concept pretty quickly.
You don't like excuses, we don't like excuses. DO NOT ever blame on excuses! Thanks to your substantial words, they're not harsh at all. Blogging is a good way to learn, think, network, and have fun. I'll let you know when I reopen it.
iSteward Note:Great to know you’re planning a blog too! Writing is good habit and it helps keep a record of life and turn some knowledge into your own better. Hopefully you can come up with a good blog, and then let me know when you’re ready to make it public. You all know I’m fan of recommending stuff that readers might enjoy , especially they’re provided by friends of mine :)
iSteward Note:As last a piece of tip from me, as I found there’re some spelling errors in your letter, I suggest that you go here and click “free download” ( the browser that contains a built-in spelling check function). Your life will improve Dramatically : D
If you have come across this post and want to discuss further with Tracy, you can comment or send her email via itracy.cao[at]gmail[dot]com.

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