Not so long ago, around three months after my college graduation, I received a telegram (yes, an old-school corporate mailer) inviting me for a job interview. During that time, I wasn’t even planning to look for a job yet after a very tiring last quarter school works. I was just surprised that even without looking for a job, I got invited for an interview! I thought it was a privilege after graduating from a good university, but I learned eventually that big companies in the Philippines have access to lists of graduating students whom they can hire for internship/entry-level positions.
It was last week of June at that time when I showed myself up for an interview in Cubao area, was so scared and really unprepared. After the initial interview, I was told that I’d be seeing the Department Head until I was asked to do a medical exam and other HR formalities. Little did I know that I was already hired and was about to start working -when in my mind, that was just my first interview and I’m not even ready to start working yet!
I remember very vividly that it was the 4th of July and I was reporting to the Marketing Department of one of the biggest real estate company during that time. New staffs were given an orientation and as they say, the rest is history.
FIRST JOB AT PALMERA HOMES, INC.
Imagine, a fresh graduate from college at the counter of a real estate office, sitting still while everyone’s busy, with agents and clients coming in and out, and sales folders starting to pile up until the end of the day – like a hyper-lapse scene in a vlog. It was really overwhelming. I already forgot the other details of my first day but I only remember asking myself, should I go back the next day?
But the second day turned into months… and months into years… and actually, many years with Palmera Homes. It was my first company. And though it was far from my dream job to work in a company somewhere in Makati CBD… walking daily with those tall buildings as your backdrop where everyone looks so professional and the ambiance is just as you’ve imagined a corporate worker should be, I was there – walking along the streets of Cubao, passing by different vendors and stalls, and navigating the traffic-laden route going to the office.
But don’t get me wrong. The opposite of my ideal work environment turned out to be the best training field for me. A casual, almost “family” atmosphere, where work timing is decided by your sense of responsibility and late nights was a norm and we are sent to our houses via our company driver until around midnight (and no one’s complaining). It was a very homey ambiance where every lunch break is a trip to a nearby eatery which could have been so expensive when I’d be working in Makati or Ortigas that time.
But we also faced a lot of struggles, adjustments, fights, misunderstandings and all, but there were company values that we’ve grown to love and appreciate. These became our guide to working harmoniously and excellently – honesty, cost-consciousness, flexibility, teamwork, and many others. We understood the need to disclose dealings that may bring conflict of interest, we do things creatively and always try to think of how we can improve the way we do things, we are made aware of our work cycle which made us feel responsible and understand the need to do it right for the benefit of the next department, and we were given opportunities to be excellent – even allowing us to make decisions and take bigger responsibilities, even at a young age.
That was my company. It has evolved in so many ways but the values remained the same; from Palmera Homes, to Camella Homes, to Crown Asia (these are the brands that I’ve been part of). We made it a part of our lives and the company always recognized the contribution of everyone. We took the value of loyalty to the heart, and proof to that are the many employees who have stayed there for many years. I couldn’t imagine where would I learn my passion and love for work if not with them.
The facade of our old office building – 827 Aurora Blvd, Cubao
LIFE AS AN OVERSEAS FILIPINO PROFESSIONAL
After a decade of service, it was time to say goodbye. Armed with my colorful years of experience from a very competitive sales and marketing environment, I challenged myself to see a different world, a new frontier, and a new life that I’ve never experienced yet.
And I can proudly say that I was able to overcome many challenges here because of the training that I got from my first company. Working long hours was normal, working with challenging tasks and personalities were part of the adjustments, and I’ve stayed in the same company here for many years as well.
REALITY VS EXPECTATIONS
Working in the Philippines after graduation was my first time to explore the professional world outside of the university. Working overseas was an opportunity to see beyond impossibilities.
I started out very aggressive and enjoyed life after college until I got a son at a young age. When I went abroad, I tried to become more mature and responsible with life until I met my wife and a started a family.
My first work taught me to be tough yet kind, to be firm yet accommodating, to be excellent without compromising my values. My new life in Qatar was made easier because of what I’ve learned early in life.
The 4th of July will forever leave a mark in my life. A true sense of Independence from student life to professional life… from my comfort zone to the real world where book knowledge meets real-life application.
Cheers to all corporate employees everywhere! Here’s to many years of colorful experiences and reaping accomplishments toward independence and enjoyment!
Do you still remember your first job? Would you mind sharing your most memorable experience?