The Humbling Experience of Playing Softball

Last Wednesday I finally got to play some organized softball which I’ve always wanted to do in college but never got the opportunity because I didn’t know anybody who wanted to play. Unfortunately, I haven’t played softball since PE class in middle school and it gave me an experience I won’t soon forget. The team I played on was with my fellow Turner coworkers and they play in a “beer” league where alcohol is consumed throughout the softball match; I only drank one can but others were pounding them down like old college days! I guess it’s hard to find players so we teamed up with another company titled Glumac which I think is an engineering firm. We played two games starting at 6 PM all the way to 9 PM with the first game being decided by time and the second one being played till 7 innings.

When I got to the field, it was a busy day apparently because we had 23 players which is huge compared to the other team which probably had around 12 people so we could basically field two teams. This made it a little difficult to get some reps but I got to play multiple times in the field and also batted three times. When I was on the field, I mostly played center field because I found out that the more experience players play in the infield similar to soccer. I was waiting for a ball to be hit towards me so that I could make a diving catch but I never got my opportunity. I’m also pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to make the catch because the other guys were belting those balls pretty hard and on top of that, the softball’s name is misnomer! It’s hard as hell! I ended up not making and catches but I did get to throw the ball once and that was the highlight of my outfield experience. When I got to bat was my favorite part, as it probably is for most people because there is nothing more fun than hitting a ball.

Before it was my turn to bat, a coworker asked me when was the last time that I hit a ball and I told him 7th grade then he grinned at me. Luckily, your own team pitches to you rather than the other team so this was a relief for me and also you get 5 tries and that is it; there are no strikeouts so you can attempt to swing at anything. I had confidence in myself because the ball was huge and I was pretty athletic so this was going to be easy in my opinion. The first pitch that I got was thrown at my feet and my friend told me he was just playing with me, which didn’t help me at all cause I needed all the practice I could get! The second pitch came in and looked perfect so I used all my strength and swung at it envisioning a home run and listening for the huge thunder that was going to come. But all I heard was a swoosh and myself spinning around in a circle. Then came the comments about my golf swing and the wind they felt. The third and fourth pitches ended up in the same order and this lead my teammates and opponents to cheer for me. I’ve never been on this side of the cheering before and it was very humbling. Hearing people say “You can do it! Keep your eye on the ball” made me feel athletically inadequate but also motivated me to not let them down. It did help me that I had my coworkers and other people rooting for me that I didn’t want to fail them on my last pitch. So I locked my eyes really hard and focused on the ball and was able to make contact! Although it ended up being a fly ball everybody cheered because I was able to make contact and I’m glad I was able to experience what it was like to being cheered on when you’re struggling. On my third at-bat in the 2nd game, I was able to contribute to my team. I was less nervous on the 3rd time and was able to hit an RBI and then I ran the field over two hits and was able to run home. Our team ended up winning by one point and I like to think that it was due to my RBI 🙂

I really enjoyed playing softball because all my coworkers were very supportive and it was a fun atmosphere. I would definitely try and make all the games over the season just to become better friends with my coworkers and also work on my hitting! We also have this golf event coming up in September and I think I would need to practice before that occurs as well. I’m still in my honeymoon phase with my job but everything has been going fantastic and I’m learning so much both in my work and out of work.

Portland’s Sand in the City

Sand in the City is an event held at Pioneer Square in Portland, Oregon that is sponsored by Mr. Yoshida and supports Impact NW which is an organization that provides support and aid to Northwest children. The event consists of hundreds of cubic yards of sand being dumped into Pioneer Square and then teams create sculptures around a central theme. There are a couple categories like competitors choice, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st, and the people’s choice award. The event was held on Friday July 20th this year and had 12 different teams competing; I was on the Turner/AMAA team and the central theme was “No place like home” and our take on it was “Our home in 2030”. Basically, we wanted people to be able to see our home in 2030 because we are currently over-loading the earth and we need to be more environmentally conscious if we want to thrive in a livable world in 2030. Therefore we used the theme of the Lorax to display and encourage that image because he is a stalwart for sustainability and the environment. It was my first time being involved in the event in any form and I had a complete blast!

The event started at 8:00 AM but I wasn’t able to make it till 9:00 because I had a superintendent’s breakfast at 6:00 AM followed by some safety training but I didn’t miss much. It was a lot more work than I expected! When I got there the forms were already nailed and placed so all we had to do was put the sand in the forms and start tamping and compacting. The only materials that were allowed was sand and water and only hand tools were allowed. I spent the majority of the time shoveling sand from the large community sand pile into our own pile so that we can start filling the forms. The more experienced team members handled the mixing of water and sand along with compacting the sand. Our total structure was designed to be 9 feet tall but that prove to be too tall so we scaled it down a bit to around 7 feet tall. The tall structure was the Once-ler’s house and took 4 forms and a crap load of sand and man power. We had around 23 people with around 12 people not coming until we were doing pulling the forms because they were the architects and were in charge of drawing out the details. Below are pictures of what our project looks like during and after construction.

All work at to be completed at 4:00 PM because they judges make you step away from your work and if you continue then you will be disqualified. We finished right up to the last second and so did every other team. The judges then walk around to decide the winner and announce an hour later. We ended up placing 3rd place which sucks because we won it last year and I believe our sculpture was outstanding but then again, I am biased. But we still have hope in the people’s choice which will end on Sunday at 1 PM. I will be there for that to see if we won or not and also that is the same day they demolish all of the sand sculptures so it should be fun to watch. I also got to get a picture with Mr. Yoshida who is the main proponent of the event.

My First Few Days at Intel and Turner

Only two days has passed since I’ve started my full-time job but it seems like a week has passed! I just spent 4.5 hours going through New Contractor Orientation to just be able to work on the Intel campus because they are very stringent on safety and are very serious about the issue. The campus is a lot larger than I expected, They have 2 huge buildings just for the contractor’s only and 1 building online just working on the new D1X fab facility. I can tell from the atmosphere is that everybody is also busy and that was apparent from my first engineer’s meeting where everybody was talking about their projects and the constant problems that are popping up. Tomorrow I will be joining this discussion because I have completed the majority of my orientation with Turner except for a few HR issues because the current system hasn’t recognized me yet but that shouldn’t be an issue for long.

Life is definitely different being a full-time employee because you know you must perform well for your company while as an intern you didn’t have that kind of bond. My biggest fear is just learning everything because it seems so fast-paced and everybody uses so many acronyms that I don’t even understand what they are saying at times. I’m sure I will get the hang of it after a few months but for now I’m just trying to learn the ropes. Hopefully I’ll be able to make contributions to the team soon and be able to impress my coworkers and supervisors. I wonder if I’ll notice when I start talking like everybody else and using the acronyms properly.

I don’t have a set date at how long I will be at Intel but I won’t be surprised if I spend a few years here and I don’t have an issue with that because I will always be constantly busy with work and will be learning so much. Also, Intel is a very intelligent and demanding owner so I’ve heard that if I can succeed at Intel then everything should be cake. Here we go!

My Ongoing Experience with Student Loans

The only thing I regret about taking student loans is that I didn’t monitor how much I took and should have took less over my academic career. I consider myself financially savvy but I didn’t foresee that taking out student loans would have such a financial impact on my future. My debt isn’t that bad when you consider it ($21 k) but my parent’s PLUS loans are the main issues sitting at over $50k which in total is almost $80k for a PUBLIC school education. The reality is that I should be no where near this number because tuition each year is around $10k and there is no way that living expenses will reach up to another $10k. I know this because the last few years I started to learn and there was a term (11 weeks) where my living expenses were less than $2,000. One thing I am grateful for is that the student loans allowed me to fully enjoy my college career because I didn’t need money from a second job to help me stay in school. This gave me the time  to party and study without giving me the prior commitment of going to work. On the downside, it gave me a lot of free time which I didn’t always use in the most productive manner but hey, its college! So would I have traded this debt for a lesser college experience? No because I had such a blast with all my friends and I think having the loans allowed me to focus more on school and not on my surrounding finances. I’ve read that the main culprit for why people drop out of college is not because they are incapable of handling the course load but because they run out of financial funds.

Now that I have graduated and can finally see with a clear vision of what my debt truly is, I’m a little shocked at the amount I was able to amass. I decided to take on my parent’s PLUS loan because it seems only right with living at their house free of rent, car insurance payments, and grocery payments. This one is going to take the longest to pay down just because the interest rate is 7.9% compared to 5.2% for my own loans. One of the thing I hate most in this life is paying interest!! But I don’t foresee any other way around it unless I went the lottery sometime in the near future. I have decided to live a frugal life and spend the majority of my dispensable income on paying off my student loans. The loans are slated to be paid off in 25 years but I’m hoping to have ALL of my student loans paid off within 3 years. The main reason I’m attempting to do this is because of the higher-than-expected salary I was offered. Hopefully I can stick through this plan and pay off my debt as quick as possible so that I can start saving up money for retirement, buying a house someday, my daughter’s education, and some spending cash if I decide to go back to school.

So here are some things that I learned about student loans:
1. Take more money the first 2 years and then the 2 last years should only be enough for you to survive. The best years of college for me was 1 & 2 and then partying got a little boring after that and it was time to focus on studying and graduating. So take the money to be able to live your college career (you’re only young once) to the fullest and then be more mature about taking loans as college comes to an end.
2. Stick with FEDERAL loans and avoid PRIVATE loans. The good thing about federal loans is they have many repayment options and are usually more flexible when it comes to complications. I’ve heard horror stories about private loans but if you have no option then try to find one with the lowest possible interest rate and be sure to do your homework/research.
3. Take a student loan seminar to know all your rights and responsibilities so you won’t be surprised when you graduate.

Please be cautious when taking out your student loans and learn quickly about how to balance your college experience and what you can financially afford in the future. It will be difficult but you future self will thank you dearly!

Anatomy of a Job Offer: My Journey at Finding a Job Before Graduation

The main reasons I attended college was because of my parents constant pressuring and my desire to have a college education and have a well-paying job where I won’t have to do manual labor. Finding a job after graduation was the ultimate culmination of a college education, in my opinion, and I spent my five years at Oregon State University gaining the necessary experience and skills to make myself competitive and appealing to companies. During my final year at OSU was when I spent putting together my portfolio of work experience and started searching for full-time employment after graduation. It definitely came as a surprise to me how difficult it actually was; I thought that my two internship experiences would give me multiple job offers but I only had two. Two is more than plenty in the economy that I graduated into to and I’m very grateful I even got offers unlike some of my colleagues who were not as fortunate. During my job search I tried searching for an article that would give first hand experience of what it was like to actually get a job offer. I wanted to know what the person had to do, how long it took, what the interview was like, how they decided between offers if they had multiple, and many other questions but I couldn’t find one. This is the main reason for this post, I want to let others know the path I took to getting a job offer and perhaps it would give them some insight and helpful tips to get an offer from a company. So here begins my tale.

I had first contact with my future employer (Turner Construction) at a career fair in my 4th year at Oregon State University. OSU is a renowned school for Construction Engineering Management in Oregon and I would think the West Coast so many large companies come to our campus to recruit therefore I have heard of Turner before but have never pursued employment with them. I went to their booth and spoke to them about a possible internship and gave them my resume and they said they would get back to me tomorrow if I qualified for an interview the following day. Luckily I got called back and interviewed with the district manager. The interview went really well because I asked more questions about him than myself to get a feeling of how it would be like working for him. I think what made me stand out the most was I asked him “Could you tell me how you would describe yourself?” which was the exact same question he asked me earlier. This question really let me see how he managed his employees and I liked his motto of work hard and play hard. After the interview was over, I sent him a hand-written thank you note. About a week later I got a phone call from the Human Resource Manager tell me that I made it to the second (final) interview for an internship. I declined the invitation because I was placed in another internship with a program I’m involved with at OSU called the Civil Engineering Co-op Program. Fast forward to October of 2011 and I once again saw Turner at the career fair. Oddly enough, I wasn’t expecting to go work for them because I had my mind set on being a Corps Member with Teach For America. I was invited to interview with Turner again for a full-time position but I went into it with less vigor than I usually go into interviews with because I had my focus on joining TFA; I didn’t even send a handwritten thank-you note like I usually do. This made me learn a lesson that I shouldn’t take anything for granted and should interview every job with the utmost intent and vigor. Even after 5 years of continuous interviews, I still had much to learn. My interview was with the district manager again and I wasn’t quite sure if he remembered who I was. Even though it was not my best interview because I talked a lot about TFA, I was invited for a final interview with 10 other candidates for a full time position.

The final interview was on Friday December 2nd and I had been declined a position with TFA in November so my main focus now was trying to find employment with a general contractor somewhere in the Pacific Northwest if I could and preferably in Oregon so that I could be there for my daughter’s childhood. The HR manager let us know that we would be interviewed by seven different individuals for about 20 minutes each. I think I set myself apart from the beginning when I asked the HR manager if she could give me a short description of each individual so that I could tailor questions to their position. She happily responded and stated that this is the first time she ever received this request from any full-time candidate. All of the other 10 candidates were from OSU and all except for one was from the CEM program; she was majoring in civil engineering. We arrived at Turner’s Portland office at 8 AM where we were greeted by the district manager and the HR manager then we were given a schedule of what individuals we would talk to first. The entire interview process took around 3.5 hours and it was quite grueling because I’ve never done so many interviews back-to-back. Once the interviews were over, we met in the conference room to have lunch and then the HR manager told us that the district manager would be calling us by the end of next week to let us know our status. We were also given $85 dollars to cover our expenses for traveling up to Portland and sent a gift in the mail for making it to the final interview; the gift was a neon orange hoodie with the Turner logo on it. These were gestures I have never seen a company give to candidates before and it showed what kind of company they were; I really respected that from them. After the final interview, I wrote a handwritten thank-you note to every person that interviewed me along with people who I met from Turner on that same day or had some contact with.

I received my call on Friday of the following week and was informed that 2 positions were already offered and the district manager wouldn’t know how many more they would be taking on but he was hoping for 3-4 total. He let me know that I was in the 3-4 position and he would let me know by the end of next week. Next week came and I didn’t get a call from him so the next week I called him and he told me that he would let me know by the end of the week. Once again, at the end of the week he didn’t know so I became discouraged and decided to look for employment somewhere else. The worst part of the job search is during this period when you’re waiting for a call back from an employer just to give you any information. I just wanted some finality; if I got the position then that would be great but I also wanted to know if I was no longer in contention so that I could move on. But I didn’t get either so I was stuck in job offer limbo and decided I would jump back in the job search pool. I applied for a entry-level position with BNSF Railway and after a phone interview, I was invited for a final interview in Texas. Just a few weeks before I was ready to leave for Texas, I receive a phone call from the Turner district manager tell me that they are going to offer me a position! I was ecstatic and called my mom and my girlfriend to let them know the good news. After the final interview in December, I was given the offer in February which is quite an excruciating long time when you’re a soon-to-be college graduate.

My first day will be Monday July 16th 2012 and I’m extremely excited to be joining such a renowned company. So the total time from first meeting to the company to getting a job offer was one year and five months. Be sure to start you job search early because it takes a VERY long time to get a job offer.

So some tips I have for job seekers is:
1. Always send a thank-you note after an interview. Make sure it is personalized to that person and make it short and sweet.
2. Prepare yourself for the interview by getting information about both the company and the person interviewing you.
3. If it’s not too late, get as much internship experience as you can. Turner hired all 3 of the interns they had the previous summer and I don’t think I would have been in contention if I didn’t have my internship experience where I really excelled and got glowing recommendations from my supervisors.
4. Expand your job search but when you interview with a company be sure that they are your main focus and don’t sound if you are above the job. I made this mistake with a few companies including Turner when I was blinded by my obsession with joining Teach For America.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice your interviewing skills! I know I did very well in each of my own interview because I had spent the previous 5 years of my college career doing at least 10 interviews every year. Your college career services should have a mock interview session available and if not, ask a professor or someone who can give you an objective view on your interviewing skills.

I hope this post will help you in your endeavor to find a job before you graduate from college. I know it’s tough out there but if you persevere and make yourself stand apart from the competition then you should have no problem! Good luck!