This year, the start of October meant that it’s been a year since I started working. I feel like it was just yesterday when I first entered the company, and now I’ve been here a year. On October 1, I posted a picture on Instagram with the following caption – “Posting a picture of how my first desk on my first day of work looked like. Five desks, two departments, and one year later, I can say that it’s been one heck of a ride. I’ve experienced sooo many things and learned soo much (about work and life in general) but I know that it’s just the beginning and I still have a long way to go”
I wish I were more organized in the sense that I can make a list of what I’ve learned and experienced over the past year, but I’m not. I’m gonna list down some things off the top of my head:
– There is a difference between a friend and a colleague, and your colleagues cannot be your friends. You should always maintain a distance. This is what I’ve been told by a lot of people in the company. I don’t know if it’s only this company’s culture or if it’s a Taiwanese thing in general. When I first heard this, I was surprised because I really wanted to make friends in the company. However, after being reinforced so many times, I’ve decided to just be content and not care too much about not having real friends in the company.
– Don’t trust people easily. Similarly, don’t believe everything you’re told. Keep in mind that there are a lot of people who are only looking out for themselves, or who have ulterior motives.
– Business is business. Bottom line, companies want the most profit they can obtain and similarly, want to spend as less as possible. Do not accept shipments whose profit is less than how much it would be to actually handle the shipment. Otherwise, what’s the point? When I was in the import department, they would have shipments profiting less than USD5. It’s really not worth it, especially if you factor in the complete process of handling the shipment – from beginning to end.
– I’ve learned so much more about international trade and the shipping process (though of course, not as detailed or as hands-on as I would have preferred). My geographical knowledge is also better than it was when I first entered the company. I’ve also learned how to provide quotations and I’d like to think that I’ve improved my business communication skills. Of course, it goes without saying that I’ve learned more industry jargon compared to when I first started.
– I was in the import department for around 2 months (because I was supposed to go on rotation/hands-on experience with different trade lines/departments) and I started out in the documents team. At that time though, an operations specialist went on a month-long trip to the US that left the department lacking in manpower. I was then asked to help out both with documentation as well as some operational tasks. I know it’s hard (and it’s scary, I feel like) but I’d like to have more hands-on experience as an operations specialist in the future. Let’s see.
– Learn to say no. Since I’m still fairly new in the company, whenever someone comes to me asking for a favor, I would immediately say yes. This is in part because I wanted to learn and also because I wanted more work. However, my colleague and my manager would frequently tell me that there are some (especially menial) things that other people are just too lazy to do and they look for someone else to do it for them. If that’s the case, there is no point in saying yes because you wouldn’t learn anything from the process, and you’re (in part) reinforcing the other person’s laziness.
– Make good use of your time. There are times when I wouldn’t have a heavy workload and instead of wasting the time away, I read industry-related articles, and even some Spanish articles to practice my Spanish reading comprehension. In line with the abovementioned, I talked to my manager before asking her if I could do this. I feel like I didn’t have to, but I wanted to anyway. She told me that reading industry-related / work-related articles or newsletters are still considered part of work so it’s all right.
– Learn to communicate and be patient. I know there are times when someone would ask you a question which you think is super basic or so-called “common knowledge”/”common sense” but when that happens, don’t lose your temper or don’t scoff at the other person. Think about the possibility that the other person is new to the field, or just doesn’t really know. Similarly, if you do not know the answer to the question, don’t pretend that you do. Don’t be cocky.
– Be grateful and appreciate what you have. I was ‘sent’ to the import department on my 3rd day (I spent the 1st day attending orientations and the 2nd day reading through a manual because we had the AEO on that day) and so at that time, they were the first colleagues I had. When it was time for me to leave and go back to my department, the manager and vice-manager told me that I could tell my manager and the president if I wanted to stay in their department. At that time, I was considering it because there were more people in their department and because of the developed attachment.
However, I felt like the work there was getting monotonous and I wanted to try other things as well. I really like my current (and original) department not only because of the variety of things that we can do, but because of the level of independence that we have. Not everything is ‘top urgent’ and we can do most things at our own pace. Of course, we have to meet deadlines especially for reports or for shipments that we’re handling, but aside from those, we are basically in charge of how we manage our times. Furthermore, my manager is a really nice and understanding person, and she can balance being professional and being personal with us. Being in this department/team has also given me perks such as multiple free meals at good restaurants I’ve never been to, and the ability to go to the hospital (back when my kidneys were inflamed) during office hours (my manager forced/ordered me to go have them checked because I was in so much pain). I wouldn’t have these if I were in another department. Hehe.
– Set your own goals. This is the last one I’d like to include here because I feel like this post is getting too long. Recently, A was talking to us about our team and she mentioned setting our own goals. As I mentioned above, there are times when I would not have a heavy work load or when I really wouldn’t have anything *important* to do (there are a lot of menial tasks though). Furthermore, there is not much micromanagement, because as I’ve mentioned, we enjoy a high level of independence. Therefore, it is actually up to ourselves to set our own goals as to what (be they monthly/yearly, short-term/long-term) we want to achieve in our roles/in our time being in the company.
Since this post is already long, I’ll just end this here and I’ll write about my first week of October in another entry.