Direction: dream 36

It would be so easy to come out of the womb knowing what it is you are destined to do. The moment your mother gives birth to you, your doctor will look at the you, and tell your mother “this baby is going to grow up to be a (insert whatever occupation you want here) and you cannot do anything to change that.” And in that scenario, you will be doing this job not because a doctor said it, but because you were destined for it. And by destined, I mean you will love doing this, you will have passion for it, and you will be perfectly qualified to do it. It was not a random decision for you to do it. There was careful thought and analysis on your qualities, traits, and all of those factors summed up into the job you were designated upon birth.

Now back to reality, where clairvoyant, job-determining doctors unfortunately do not exist. As a soon-to-be college graduate, I am struggling with figuring out where I want to go with my life. I have two degrees under Hospitality, one for Food and Beverage and the other for Accounting, and I have a minor in Business Management. You would like that between that and having a decent GPA and a strong resume, people would at least find me hirable, right? Wrong. I cannot seem to land a job offer to save my life. And it makes me question my own capabilities and qualifications. Specifically, I wonder if I even want to be in this industry. The moment the doubt and second guessing kicks it, I wonder if this is the direction I really want to take, or if I should change gears while I still can.

That’s where I am struggling. I know that everyone expects me to get a decent job and to become a manager and then a director in the following years. But I do not think that is what I want to do with my life. I enjoy being free spirited, and I love expressing myself. I cannot do that for the most part in the Hospitality industry; the obvious exceptions are being a designer for restaurants or hotels, or being an executive chef, designing my own menus. But I am neither, and while I have qualifications in the restaurant industry, definitely not enough to be an executive chef at the moment. I just do not know what I am going to wind up doing with my potential. Obviously, I do not want the college degree and education to go down the toilet, but I still do not know what I want to do with my life. Finding any kind of inspiration or hint towards that is highly welcomed.

Especially while I am in this stage of job-hunting limbo, I really wish that those clairvoyant doctors existed right now. Even if I got stuck with being a garbage truck driver or a porn star for the rest of my life, no matter what level of education I completed, at least I would know what to expect, right? Just not knowing, it kills me. And that is the issue with my generation. We like to have a set plan of what we want out of our careers, and when those plans come unhinged, we typically do not know what to do. In a feather-light world of my dreams, I would want everyone to be able to find their passion at a young age, and pursue that passion so that they can help make the world a better place by making their job something they can be proud of doing.

Road Movie: Chapter 3

“Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, everybody!” Frida pranced through the office, holding her two shot glasses. “Frida! Stop encouraging drinking at the workplace! And is that vodka? You better not spill that on the carpet!” Virginia growled at her before retreating to her office. “Shut up! Cramping my Thirst-days! So rude!” Frida barked before continuing down the hallway. It was Thursday, so in Frida’s case, “Thirst-day.” She was too lazy to say the phrase “Thirsty Thursday”, so she abbreviated it on her own. That was just the way Frida was. She did not care what other people thought about her. She marched to the beat of her own drum. Virginia and Justin found Frida to be irritating, but Maria and Dakota thought it was remarkable and refreshing how free-spirited somebody as old as Frida could be. “Jesus, if we weren’t paid so well, I would have already quit.” The Korean girl was having a particularly bad day today; Marriott International decided to pull out of doing business with her and as the biggest hotel company in the world, that was a huge blow to the sales manager’s pride. So as much as she would like to drink her sorrows away, Virginia knew she needed to weigh her options: would she try to win back Marriott as a client? Or try to find new people? Regardless, she was going to be spending the first of her Thursday doing intense research. Meanwhile, Dakota was on a field trip: she was visiting her alma mater, specifically, University of Chicago Medicine.

Due to Hillary Jenkins’ Client Confidentiality Policy, Dakota was not allowed to leak marketing strategies or as Frida would say “double dip” between similar clients with similar problems. Dakota was first meeting up with the PR team for UChicago Medicine to see what kind of marketing or targeting they desired. Should the request be too similar to that of a recent client (recent meaning within the past year), then Dakota would have to reject the work offer. It was this very policy that made Hillary Jenkins one of the most renowned marketing firms in the midwest. Any client can go to them knowing that they are getting a unique marketing experience or at least a strategy that would be guaranteed to work. “Hi, my name is Allison. I’m in charge of Public Relations here in UChicago Medicine.” A very upbeat looking young woman with auburn hair greeted Dakota at the front office. “Hi, I’m Dakota. We spoke over the phone earlier today? I’m from Hillary Jenkins.” The two shook hands. “Here, let’s go inside to my office and we can talk about some things we needed help with.” Allison gestured behind the receptionist’s counter. The two walked into a decently sized office, well-light, but with no windows. They sat across each other around a large wooden table.

“Alright, so that’s our issue right now.” She summarized. UChicago wanted to increase their campaign for safe sex, especially due to a recent sex scandal amongst students that caused several members of a now-defunct business fraternity to contract herpes. Obviously, this sort of issue needed immediate attention, which was why Allison called Hillary Jenkins in the first place. “Alright, well use social media, not just the UChicago Medicine accounts, but the general UChicago accounts to announce to everyone the importance of safe sex. Maybe even include cute graphics on condoms, just so that we can make it more lighthearted, even though it obviously is a serious issue.” Dakota suggested. “Alright, we’ll make sure to make a public announcement today, and then I’ll have our graphic designer come up with something. Thanks for the suggestion, Dakota!” Allison grinned at her. “No problem. Just doing my job!”

Talking about safe sex just reminded Dakota about when they first learned about sex in the 6th grade. It was health class and the teacher, Ms. Carolle, a recent college graduate who was incredibly unenthusiastic, was demonstrating how people were supposed to have safe sex using a condom, a cucumber, and her fingers. She went on to say that all children were born through sex, which is why humans do it. Needless to say, it was an incredibly traumatic day for the entire class, and Dakota would go home later that night and awkwardly avoid eye contact with her parents, knowing full well what they had to do to conceive her. But then again, there was no easy way to talk about the birds and the bees. Hearing about the sex scandal just made Dakota question what they are teaching children in school these days. The fact that they were not smart enough to use condoms was concerning to her. And thinking that just cemented her realization that she was no longer a kid.

Typically, most marketers would have a time frame to come up with a marketing plan, based on research taken from surveys, competitor analysis, and many other factors. But Dakota’s creativity and experience is what got her this far. Well, that coupled with the fact she was dating an aspiring doctor. Between her marketing education and Phillip’s medical knowledge, she needed little effort in pitching advertising suggestions to doctors or dealing with medical related marketing challenges. Hillary Jenkins was also unique in the job responsibilities. In most companies, a sales manager refers to a person managing accounts and selling to them or making sales through them. In this firm, the sales being referred to are just the clients themselves, and how the managers handle the marketing challenges they present. It was slightly different in that there is a lot more marketing and public relations and a lot less actual sales, but Dakota would rather it be that way. Handling sales would mean math, specifically the top line and revenue, something she would rather not dabble with. Arithmetic and Dakota did not mix.

“Ugh, I can’t believe they require us to take accounting.” A 20 year-old Dakota was struggling through her junior year, specifically managerial accounting. The course was required because she was a general business major first and a marketing concentration second. “But didn’t you already do financial accounting?” One of Dakota’s friends, a small Korean girl named Jocelyn, frowned at her. The two were currently in the UChicago library, doing Organizational Behavior homework underneath the large glass dome. It was almost like a greenhouse, but instead of plants, there were rows of bookshelves and desks. “Well, obviously, but I scrapped by with a C.” “Oh, well then,” The Korean girl frowned. Jocelyn was an accounting and finance double concentrate, so numbers came more naturally to her. “Here, I can help you.” She offered. “Oh my god, you’re a life saver.” Dakota sighed in relief. Luckily, Jocelyn’s tutoring was useful, and Dakota was able to finish her last math-related course ever with a high A. But on Jocelyn’s end, she was astounded by how bad somebody who got into UChicago could be at math, but equally impressed that Dakota was able to get an A in the end, despite that.

“And it looks like the person who helped the most clients this quarter was…. Dakota!” Confetti rained down on her, as the brunette was stunned. It was finally Friday, and everyone was celebrating the end of the quarter, right before their winter break. “Congratulations!” Maria and Virginia gave her hugs. “Just you wait. It’s going to be quarter one again, and that means football season! I will come back with a vengeance!” Justin boasted. “Big words, but we know you can back them up.” Frida clicked her tongue in agreement. Whenever it was time for the Superbowl or Olympics, Justin’s sales would go through the roof. He would be bombarded with five to six clients a week, and would need either Dakota or Maria helping him, depending on if the clients had some pertinence to health or sportswear. And then there was Olympics season. It had only happened once since Dakota had started working in Hillary Jenkins, but the girls had completely forgotten about Justin during that summer: he had to meet two to three clients every day. So while Dakota was enjoying the fact that she helped the most clients in the last quarter, where flu season was high anyways, she knew that it was a short-lived victory.

“Congratulations!” Phillip wrapped his arms around Dakota in a crushing embrace. “Ugh! Can’t breathe!” Dakota groaned. “Sorry!” He let go of the brunette. “I’m just so proud of my girlfriend! Manager of the Quarter? That’s awesome!” He was beaming from ear to ear. “And how was this semester?” She looked at him. “I got a decent GPA. 3.5.” He chuckled. “Nice!” It was her turn to hug him tightly. After this, it would be only one more year before Phillip would graduate with his M.D. in Pediatrics. Because he was working as a nurse for Northwestern Memorial, that counted towards the school’s internship requirements. Without this experience and completion of the USMLE Step 3 exam, Phillip would not be able to own his own practice down the line. After his last year, he was going to take that exam, and then take a try at owning a children’s hospital. “I’m really proud of both of us. Going into this break, I just can’t wait. We can finally relax a little bit.” Dakota sighed into Phillip’s shoulder.

Underdog: realization 25

I think it’s fair to say that in this day and age, being an underdog makes you more likable. Everyone is always cheering for them. Think about the Tortoise, the Little Engine Who Could, Cinderella, to name a few. All of them started with a huge disadvantage, but overcame the odds, and showed everyone that they can accomplish whatever they put their minds to. Being an underdog means that the expectations for you are set so low that even a small accomplishment can be seen as a huge step. For me personally, I always felt a detachment from wanting to be the underdog, but I wind up there more often than not. It goes both ways. Sometimes, I appreciate it because then I can blow people away without necessarily intending to, but at the same time, I sometimes do prefer to be seen as the titan that others have trouble toppling; with cooking, running, and accounting, I am more than comfortable with having a huge target on my back.

The biggest reason why I am normally against being the underdog is that I don’t want to feel disadvantaged. I like to know that I am somebody who can set the bar. However, there are times when I am that person and others just use me as a stepping stone. It happened throughout high school. People assumed I was smart for the first two years, and then whenever they’d do better than me on a test or in a class, they’d basically announce that they beat me. So towards the end of high school and the beginning of college, I slinked my way into being the underdog. The scrappy fighter. At first, it sucked. I felt like it was now on me to prove to everyone who got ahead of me that I am not completely worthless and that I am not just a baseline for others to surpass.

The thing about being the underdog is that it is a natural motivator for most people. You don’t want to be seen as the weakest link, but when word gets around that you might be, then you just push yourself as hard as possible, and you’ll even surprise yourself with the end results. That’s how I went from being the underdog back to being the target. And the best part of it was, rather than being nervous or cocky about being the target, I just kept my head down for the most part, and literally everyone was terrified of me when it came to Food and Beverage or Accounting. I still remember one of the seniors assumed I was in his year when I was a junior because of how put-together and capable I seemed. He admitted to me that he was intimidated by me and was relieved that he didn’t have to compete against me for jobs. Looking back on that, it was funny. And being better than that is where I am aiming now.

Like I said, I hate being the underdog. It’s basically like trying to run in heels, or play hide and seek blindfolded. I feel like everyone is looking at me, expecting me to fail or fall flatter than I already have. Having attention is already annoying for me, but when it’s bad attention, it’s frustrating. And that’s fine. Because everyone thought I was going to fail in the past, and I completely disproved them. I am more than ready to do that again. So if I have to be the underdog, that’s fine. I will adopt that mantle, wear it to the best of my ability, and make my way back to the top again. That’s just what life, and economics, are. Ups and downs. A continuous cycle. It’s up to me to learn how to control that cycle, and capitalize on my ups, while minimizing my downs.
















Sky Bird: Chapter 4

It happened around the time when Kendall was 2. Kendall’s dad, Christian Skye, was an investment banker for Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. for about 10 years. Walking into the tall building and past the receptionist, Christian made his way into his office on the 15th floor. “Hey, Chris! How was your weekend?” He was quickly met with his close friend, Hugh Chiang, Fanny and Chloe’s father. “It was great! Alissa and I took the kids to the beach. It won’t be long before her water breaks though.” Christian shook his head. Alissa, his wife, was pregnant yet again. We should consider getting her tubes tied. I swear. He scoffed to himself. This would be his third kid. If it was a boy, they were thinking Gilbert, after one of the funniest actors of all time. If it’s a girl, then Yumi, after Alissa’s mother. Raising Kendall and Megan was already stressful. So having to raise a third child, it wouldn’t be fun. Luckily, there’s a chance at getting a promotion. The previous vice president retired, so they are definitely looking to fill that spot soon. It would be great to get that extra money. The two sat back in their cubicles, and got to work. “Attention everyone!” In walked the president. “So we finally spoke it over, and the vice president is going to be…. Hugh Chiang! Congratulations! You have worked with us for 20 years, and you finally got that promotion you deserved!” Everyone started clapping. “Thank you!” Hugh rose up and smiled. “You earned it.” Christian shook Hugh’s hand.

“I’m sorry that you had to be let go.” It was only a few months later. Gil was born, and Christian was already tight on money. And then he was told this by none other than Hugh. He had just lost his job. The next couple of months were stressful. Finding work was difficult, because the economy was looking bad. However, Christian was able to get hired as a banker for a Bank of America. He didn’t get paid nearly as much, but it was better than nothing. And then Alissa, now that she had given birth, was able to look for work as well; she became a cashier at a local Japanese bakery during the daytime. Having to relocate their family to a small apartment was tough. The kids had to share a single bedroom. They were barely making ends’ meet. And at the same time, he had heard about Hugh’s living conditions; he moved into a mansion at Beverly Hills, he hired a private chef to cook his family’s meals, and their mansion was so large they needed four housekeepers to maintain it. That’s what Kendall was told by his father. And that’s the reason why Kendall always looked down on Fanny, specifically, Fanny’s family. Unbeknownst to Kendall, Christian was actually still good friends with Hugh.

“Well that’s my weekend. How was yours? Is Lily getting any better?” Christian was referring to Hugh’s wife, Mrs. Chiang. Lily unfortunately had lung cancer; she was a line cook for many years, and because of that, she was exposed to a lot of toxic fumes. “She’s doing alright. We’re getting tight on money, because Chloe was just born this year. But I’m sure we can work through it.” Hugh reassured his concerned friend. “But if you get the promotion, wouldn’t that mean that Lily will be covered in your new health plan?” Christian reasoned. “Yeah, but what are the odds of me getting a promotion, right?” Hugh laughed as the two of them made their way to their respective cubicles. “Anyways, we got a long day of work ahead of us!” Luckily for Hugh, the promotion came when Lily needed it most. She was able to get chemotherapy, fully covered by the company. And to take care of the family, with Hugh’s new salary, they hired Malina, Lily’s old co-worker, as a private chef, and four housekeepers to take care of their new house, the children, and most importantly, Lily.

“The company might be going under and I have to let people go. But I promise you, Chris, we will keep you on. You’ve been a valuable asset to our team and-” “Hugh, I saw the list already. You were planning to let go of associates who have been here 4-5 years longer than I have, just to keep me on. That’s not fair to them. Let me go.” Christian insisted. Hugh and Christian were sitting in Hugh’s office room. “I know it’s a tough decision, and I know we are friends. But I don’t want to stay in this company knowing that other people have worked with it longer.” “Are you sure? Chris, You really are an incredible asset to the company, and when I got this promotion, the first thing I thought was ‘why didn’t they give it to Chris? He works so much harder than the rest of us.’” Hugh was determined at this point to convince Christian to stay. “No, if you don’t fire me, then I’m going to quit.” He threatened. “Okay then. Then you’re fired. I’m sorry that you had to be let go.” Hugh sighed, resigned to this decision. It was a tough call, but he was touched that Christian would make that sacrifice.

While the next few months were tough on the Skye household, which soon became an apartment-hold, Christian was eventually recommended to a Bank of America by none other than Hugh. At first, it was tough financially, but Lily was able to recommend Alissa to a Japanese bakery she was previously the head baker of, and Alissa was able to work as well; Alissa being half Japanese and a fluent speaker helped her get hired immediately. Both Christian and Alissa got promoted within their respective careers; Christian managed to become the manager of his branch, while Alissa became the manager of the bakery. Financially, they were together on par with Hugh. However, the couple chose to stay in the apartment, in hopes that it would motivate their children to try harder, or at the least, be content with what they have. That and the apartment was closer to the bank, school, and bakery than any houses or mansions would be.

Because of the way Christian told the story to Kendall, the sophomore had always assumed that the Chiangs were greedy people who obsessed with money and wanted to stop anyone who was a threat to them gaining more power. Christian neglected to mention that he was the one who chose to step down from his old job, mostly because he was more focused on telling Kendall about the promotion, and how you can only get things you work hard for. Kendall did not understand the lesson though. The only points he focused on were Christian getting fired after not getting the promotion and their family struggling financially. That’s why he wanted to outperform Fanny. However, both Megan and Gil were okay with the Chiangs, because they heard the story from Alissa, who emphasized a lot more about how gracious she was that Lily recommended her to the bakery job. Because of that, Kendall has a very different outlook on the situation than everyone else. Even though Kendall knows that Christian and Hugh are friends, he assumes that it is because Christian is trying to be the higher man, despite what Hugh did to him. Kendall was never informed about Christian finding his new job through Hugh, or that financially, they are almost as well-off as the Chiangs since Christian and Lily were both promoted in their new jobs, but just chose not to live that sort of lifestyle, mostly because they did not need to, given how they adapted and enjoyed the simpler life.

What I want to do: dream 1

I think it’s important to establish your goals in life, just something to aspire towards. For me, I hope to become an accounting manager or director of finance in a hotel (mostly because of the money) and then move to Japan and open up my own bakery. The reason for the bakery is because I love making desserts, and with food, sugar and chocolate are the best story-telling mediums out there. You can make basically any tangible object out of either of them.

But let’s break it down even further with the “Why? Game.” It’s a little trick where you ask “why” and respond to that five times. Why accounting? Because I need money. Why do you need money? Because I want to be financially stable to open my own business. Why do I want to open my own business? Because I want to be working for myself for a change. Why do I want to eventually work for myself? Because I like being able to be in charge of my own vision. Why do I need to be in charge? Because I would like to share what it is that I believe in, without needing the adulteration of business partners or other people.

Now I could break down why Japan and owning a bakery there, but that’ll just take too long. You get the idea. By breaking down what it is that I want to do with all of these questions, you are left with the purest reason as to why I am doing the things I am doing. I want to open up my own bakery and it must be my own, because I do not want to keep working for somebody else, and make their visions come true for the rest of my life. I need to be able to do something that will be true to me. I need to let my voice and my stories be expressed, either in words or pastries.

For my pastry experience, I have been baking for about 6 years (I started in 2010). It started with vegan cakes. I was raised by an organic-forward, lactose-intolerant, Buddhist mother who banned all things butter and sugar from our pantry. I love you, Mom, if you are somehow reading this and you realize that this is me. But anyways, I only could cook vegan because of that. And then I managed to sneak butter and heavy cream into our pantry, and then we got the ball rolling. Even though we didn’t have whisks, I managed to make due with what we had, and I made meringues using my strainer. When it came down to it, I was able to bake despite the obstacles presented before me, and it just showed that my determination to make desserts with next to no real equipment or ingredients.

While baking is one of my loves, I needed to have an umbrella passion that covers everything. Like I said, desserts are one of the best ways for me to tell my stories. While my writing skills are basically lukewarm one a good day, I know my love and understanding of pastry makes me capable of properly expressing my story and my journey from an immigrant child to an adult. Desserts just make me smile.