Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Too busy for someone who is unemployed

This is my first official week of being unemployed and I am way to busy to be doing all of the fabulous things I am supposed to be enjoying like going to yoga, lunching with friends, tanning, and going shopping. I have had so much homework and studying to do for my GMAT class, I don't know how people with full time jobs are able to get all the of required homework and studying done. 
The work has been very frustrating and tiresome.  I have to walk away after awhile, particularly when doing the verbal portion.  I am starting to feel the math coming back but have been so amazed at how much I have needed to re-learn.  It's like using a language.  We spend at least four years of our lives learning a language between middle school and university and for many people, if they don't use it, they lose it.  I don't think I have seen a fraction or exponents in the last 10 years as there isn't much math in advertising. I am really hoping that as I continue to practice, I will start getting more answers correct. I have already finished my verbal homework for the week but I still need to do the math, the online tutorials for verbal and math, and then take another practice test.  That alone is probably at least 9 hours worth of homework and I have already spent 4 on the other verbal homework. 
Other than GMAT preparation, I have been actively moving things along on the job front.  I am in the final round of interviews for one company and am at about the mid-way point for another.  I have an in person interview this afternoon with 1-2 people and have a really big in person presentation with another company tomorrow.  I spent about 8 hours yesterday working on the presentation for tomorrow. I have to essentially look at a local advertiser, evaluate their current social strategy, and then build a business plan using the solutions I would be selling to better their business.  It was a fun task and I love solution-based selling.  The challenge was that I have not had to build a power point completely from scratch since college.  Typically, there are company charts, infographs, and marketing slides that I can modify to my need but I had absolutely nothing and had to build from the ground up. I spent a lot of time yesterday on Google Images trying to ad some color to my presentation. 
I received my first job offer last night for the ad agency. I have been very excited about the role, the company, and the people I would be working with but the offer was as I suspected, far too low.  I knew that I would likely take a pay decrease since I am used to making a fair base salary and a large amount of commission.  This new role would be almost completely salary base with a small bonus.  The base salary itself is far lower than what I have been making and I just don't think I can afford to live off it.  The media director made it sound like I might be able to counter, but they couldn't offer me much more than that. 
Drew and I now have a gorgeous apartment that costs quite a decent amount in rent and I have my condo back home that looks like although I may be finally getting a tenant, I am going to have to pay over $400 a month between what I will be able to rent it at and what the mortgage is costing.  Most importantly, Drew and I moved here to be able to travel and I want to be able to ensure that I can afford to travel to all of the wonderful places we planned visiting while we live here. 
One of the companies I am interviewing with this week also offers the perk of educational assistance.  If I start my MBA program while I am here, it would be amazing if the company will help fund it.  That is something else which is drawing me away from the offer I received yesterday.
Anyways... praying that what is meant to be will happen and something good will happen this week.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Ferrari and KK, Malaysia

It has been almost 2 1/2 weeks since my last post and I have lots and lots of updates. When we got back from Sydney, AU, we found out that we officially got the fabulous "ferrari" apartment. It is at the top of our budget but everyone we have had over has told us this place easily should go for $2-4k more than what we are paying for it.  Everyday we are here, we are in awe in at how grateful we are to have such a beautiful place so well located. If I were to describe this to someone in the US, I would describe it as 5th Avenue combined with Rodeo Drive and the Santa Monica promenade/place.  I have seen two Hermes in less than a quarter of a mile and there could easily be more in one of the many many floors of the malls around Orchard Road.
We got back from Sydney on Sunday night and left for KK, Malaysia on Saturday morning.  Drew was attending a conference for the ad industry so his flight and our gorgeous room were both free.  The conference was at the Shangri-la and our room was stunning.  We looked out onto a mini-golf course and out onto the ocean. The hotel had a mini-water park, three different pools, a beach, and the most amazing bar I think I have ever seen called the "Sunset Bar". Every evening people gathered out at the bar at tables and on lounge cushions to watch the sun set behind thunderous clouds to create the most spectacular view of pinks, purples, and oranges.  I think Drew took over 300 pictures of the sunset with this camera.  We have some truly breathtaking photos.  
The conference was interesting and we did some great c-level networking to help build our relationships in SEA. We were able to get away one afternoon to go to a nearby island for snorkeling.  The island was beautiful and we enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch before trying out snorkeling.  The water was pretty nice and we could see almost everything without the need for scuba.  The only problem is that as we were out in the water, I started feeling little stings.  They felt like mini jellyfish stings but there was absolutely nothing I could see in the water.  I later found out there are microscopic critters in the water called jellybugs.  They left little red bite marks on my skin and were itchy and burning but finally went away later that day.
Malaysia is predominantly a Muslim country so I was definitely a minority in a bikini out on the islands. Our resort is mostly expats and tourists so it wasn't as noticeable.  But out on the islands, there were mostly locals so most of the women were completely covered up.  Even when they went in the water, they donned full wet suit style clothing to cover their heads, arms, and legs.  It must have been 90 degrees with almost 100% humidity and I can't possibly understand how the women can manage to be in all black head to toe.
The trip was fabulous and we were very sad to leave.  We got back on Wednesday afternoon and went straight from the airport to go pick up Chewie who was SO excited to see us.
The next couple days I packed up our apartment and on Saturday morning we made the move into our new apartment.  The movers brought in 99 items which included all of our furniture and all of the boxes containing our clothes and every last bit of our lives from the US. I have been waiting two months to settle into our life hear and I was on a mission to get unpacked as quickly as possible.  I have been working from home so being around clutter night and day drives me absolutely crazy.  Drew called me a woman on a mission.
I hosted my first girls night here the following Thursday night and managed to have our paintings and pictures hung up and had all boxes cleared out.  I let Drew go out to buy the TV which was probably a big mistake as he came back with a 42 inch HD 3-D television. I also sent him out to buy a coffee machine and he came back with an espresso machine. We ended up getting everything sorted outing the long run but had to make four trips to the electronics store which just about put me over the edge.
My last day at comScore was officially on the 30th and I received my separation papers via email yesterday.  I dropped off my stuff at the local comScore office and will receive my final paycheck hopefully in the near future.
I have been interviewing heavily with three different companies and all three interviews have been going very well.  I should be expecting an offer from an ad agency in the next week or so. I have also been also interviewing with a couple of competitors to comScore that have been going very well and I think would be exciting and challenging opportunities to me.  Both of the companies though have been taking a long time and the process has already been over a month and will likely be a minimum of two weeks before I could even get an offer. I am grateful for the time getting settled in but am also looking forward to starting work.
I have been keeping myself busy the last week and a half by beginning to study for my GMAT test.  My GMAT class has proven to be extremely helpful but also made me increasingly aware of how much I have forgotten since high school.  The test consists of two parts like the SAT, math and verbal.  I took the diagnostic test and could not believe how poorly I scored. I was always an honors student in school and this test score did not reflect that at all. During our first lesson we reviewed several components of the math portion and I felt so embarrassed that I had forgotten simple mathematic procedures such as multiplying and dividing fractions, how to add and multiply exponents, and I felt a wave of nausea when I was shown quadratic equations.  My brain knows that I have the knowledge somewhere in the deep dark crevices, but my conscience cannot pull up the memories to help me solve the mathematical problems.  That said, I have been spending a lot of my newly unemployed time by re-learning all the math I learned from grades 6-12.  Thankfully it has all been coming back relatively easily but I definitely need to practice as much as possible as the GMAT doesn't just test your basic knowledge of these mathematical skills, but it checks to see how it can trick you and determines your ability to reason while using advanced mathematical skills.
Today is Cinco de Mayo and this is a day we would normally surround ourselves with friends to indulge in Mexican food, margaritas, and tequila.  We are going to have people over at our place this evening so Drew can truly break in the bar and then go out to Cafe Iguana (yep, that's really what it is called) to drink and have a Mexican feast.  The restaurant is offering 40% of happy hour prices which is a REALLY good deal for Singapore so I am excited to enjoy the festivities. I have also been really trying to cut back on the alcohol consumption as it is SO expensive to drink here and I frankly don't need the calories.  I haven't drank anything since last Sunday so I feel like I have earned the right to indulge tonight.
I promise to blog more soon.
Besos y Abrasos,
Alicia