Making an Easy Transition From One Career to Another

I used to worry about my son’s penchant for changing careers even before making it to his 5th year at the job.

This tendency went against the traditional linear path to a career growth and success.

Traditional way of career success

Back then, one had to build loyalty to a company and/or industry, to gain credibility and expertise. Aside from acquiring experience, skills, and knowledge in one job, one hoped to establish stability and security of tenure by staying long years in the same organization in hope of a promotion to a higher level, or be rewarded for one’s loyalty.

But this is today’s reality. It’s a growing trend to shift careers at the beginning of one’s work life or midway, especially among the young.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Now, I see the value. My son’s career transitions – from the academe to the corporate world, and from one corporate line of work to another – has brought him to higher management level with bigger responsibilities, in different fields. It has brought him nearer his career goals and to different places, too (overseas). Something he wouldn’t have attained yet, had he stayed in his first job ever.

Benefits of multiple career/job transitions

Nowadays, career/job progress comes from different directions. As this article says: “…with an ever-changing job market, technologies and opportunities emerging daily […] today’s career paths are not ladders, but more like jungle gyms.”

I myself have experienced such career shifts — from corporate jobs to teaching after a long break, then writing. At present, I’m even learning a more specialized kind of writing necessary nowadays in the digital workplace – copy writing (for content marketing).

But I tell you this. Changing careers benefits you in many ways, both in your work and personal life. You accumulate different skill sets, get to experience different work cultures, and meet all sorts of people. All these enrich your life, promote your personal and professional growth.  And not the least, it widens your horizon of opportunities.

You’ll never know where life can take you. But the skills you’ve learned so far will be of great use to you anytime.

How to manage your career/job transition(s)

This article offer some ways to make your career transition(s) a breeze.

Let’s look at some:

  • According to the article, you should “Decide if you need a career change. You may just need to find a new job, not an easy task, but certainly simpler than an entire career makeover.”

So while you’re still at your job, whether you’re enjoying it or not, learn as much as you can. The skills you learn will put you in good stead wherever your next move takes you.

I remember in my earliest job where my main function was personnel recruitment, I’d ask our telephone operator to teach me how to operate our switchboard and handle calls. During my coffee break or lunch time, I’d offer to relieve her because it was so much fun for me. I never expected on my next job, relieving the telephone operator was part of my duties.

  • Assess yourself is another tip from the article. “If you decide a career change is in order you will need to evaluate your values, skills, personality and interests using self-assessment tools, often called career tests.”

In my case –my transition — from personnel work to language teaching to content writing on the web — was not part of any strategic plans for the future, but a convenient option. But there also seemed to be a tying up of my values, skills, personality and interests which helped me segue into each of these fields.

And I add my own tips based from my personal experience.

  • Work on your hobbies and interests. Find time to indulge in them no matter how busy you are in your job. Hone your innate talents and find the relevant skills to develop so you can be good at whatever you enjoy doing. The more you learn and practice, the more you become an expert.

For example, while still teaching, I started a blog for my students (this one,  initially meant for their use). I didn’t know anything at all about WordPress, much less about blogging. But I enjoyed learning everything I could about it.

Now, 5 years hence, I’ve become more confident with my blogging skills both for my pleasure and for my work as content writer. Yet, I still continue to improve my skills day by day by diligent learning through reading up and attending online courses.

  • As soon as you learn something new, apply that knowledge. Don’t worry about making mistakes. You learn by doing.

I’d always been fond of taking photos — long before the advent of smartphones and digital photography. So I’d be using my old trusted film camera, then my digicam. But I never thought about any techniques. Just point and shoot. Enough.

Then with a smartphone, I discovered the joy and beauty in taking good shots and developing my photography skills. Although I’m far from being an expert, at the very least, my photo shots today show signs of better technique and style.

  • Discover new interests. They can help you advance in your present job or career, or lead you to a new field. Or even help you transition from being employed to having your own business.

While in her job at the bank, my sister started networking with associates and learning about marketing. Now she is her own person running her own food franchise.

  •   Think of your goals, as the same article above says. Set up new ones if you haven’t yet. Do this with each transition you make. What are you trying to achieve by your move?

Don’t make a move for the sake of doing so, otherwise you may find yourself adrift like a lost boat.

In short, move with a purpose and a clear sense of direction. It may not take you yet where you want to be. But it will surely help you make the most of what you can do and reach your goals one step at a time.

There are different routes to the same destination. Stay focused and determined.  – Janice Harris

My Father’s Shoes

Nowadays, my father’s feet are often clad in loafers or sandals, whenever he goes out with us on family trips, near or far. At 89, he finds much ease of striding in footwear that afford his toes, heels, and soles comfort and breathing space. Back in the days of his youth, at his prime, he always wore leathers. Leather shoes for office and church, and leather slippers at home. He had his soft driving shoes though.

I couldn’t imagine how he moved about in those heavy footwear. But my father, with his 5’7”  straight back frame, cut a military figure, even never having been in the military, and walked with dignified gaits.

One thing I realize, my father’s shoes today have gotten smaller in size. Unlike in the past when his leather-clad feet were the first anyone noticed.

Still, my father’s shoes — then and now — are his and only his to fill.

On a deeper level though, try hard as they might – no one will ever be able to fill my father’s shoes.

He is – as most people say – holy, kind, and gentle. Once, already in his 80’s, he met a priest while on a visit to my sister at the convent. After a brief conversation with my Dad, that priest remarked, “You’re more priest-like than I am.”

As ever, Dad carries a quiet, dignified, genteel air about him. This affords him a stature almost akin to nobility. He draws instant respect from anyone who meets him, friends and strangers alike. Like bowing to him in respect or giving way to him without his asking. But the reason for this is my father’s prayer life, shaping the person that he is. You’d feel his authority cloaked with humility.

Steeped in prayer since childhood, he led our family in our daily  Rosary and prayers. Until today, with my mother gone on, he continues to observe his daily prayer times throughout the day. Our home is like a convent, indeed. Having dedicated our home to the Sacred Heart, my parents have done their best to make our family a real domestic church. And that is what Dad is bequeathing to us his children and grandchildren. His and Mom’s legacy of faith.

Like silent waters that run deep, my father is a man of few words, yet bright and knowledgeable. A voracious reader, he sparked in each of us the love of reading and transformed his brood into a bunch of book geeks. He filled our home with books, volumes of encyclopedias and dictionaries, and most of all, the Bible. My mother would often say with pride my father had an IQ of a near Genius. Indeed, based on IQ tests he took at different points in his early life.

So as a young student back then, I looked up to my father for his sharp memory, keen mind, and vast knowledge, from religion to history to science and Math, and his great facility with English. Once, an American in one of the firms he worked for asked him about his perfect English – better than some native speakers. You see my father worked from age 14 with American navy personnel to pack some of their inventory.

Oh, he was his children and grandchildren’s Music mentor — our first voice teacher and and musical director – being gifted with a rich baritone voice. He taught/encouraged us to play musical instruments, most of which he could play well. I did learn to play the piano for a short time in early grade school, and my youngest son learned to play the banduria and violin (Dad’s forte) from him, too..

Yes, he was also a Math wizard. And our Math savior for our homework and projects. No wonder! He graduated as Salutatorian from High School (like his eldest grandson – my son who took after him), went on to UP, then Mapua University, for his Engineering studies.

A dedicated employee, he excelled in his career in Personnel Management (now known as Human Resources or People Management), rising from the ranks (as a working student) to being top executive in all the firms he worked for. He also served as a consultant at one big corporation, midway in his career.

With a large growing brood, he managed to juggle work and family life and church. Selfless. Loving.  Whenever my mother got pregnant, my father did the laundry and cooked our meals. He’d also take us with him for hospital visits to my mom and our new sibling.

Of course, my father was not without shortcomings. Slow to anger, he’d also run out of patience with us kids (seldom though) –  so glaring, he’d order us to a corner or upstairs to our room. Or tapped our butts with his leather slippers. Ouch!

On the road when driving (when he was still much able to), bad drivers and traffic tested his patience, irking him- but never to the point where he’d yell or rage. You’d better be sure though to keep your seat belt fastened. Sometimes, he can be obstinate to a fault too. That’s his human side.

Being my father’s daughter, I’ve got that little bit of him. And being not as holy as he is, I would cause ugly battles between us. Battle of wills. Yet, my father being who he is, would only forgive me. Once, during such confrontation, my father decided to go to the nearby Adoration chapel to cool off, rest, and pray.

 

A faithful husband

devoted family man

good provider

loving, patient father

thoughtful sibling

loyal son

now a doting grandfather/great-grandfather –

that’s who my father is,

And more…

I could list a litany of praises and accolades

but words will never be enough

to depict this wise, saintly, God-fearing man

that is my father.

And no one can ever fill my father’s shoes.

 

 

10 Ways to Keep EFL Students Engaged

Teaching EFL students is fun and fulfilling, but can also bring plenty of challenges. One common challenge is keeping your English learners motivated and engaged. EFL students, young and old alike tend to lose interest or focus as lessons progress in difficulty, for instance. This becomes a hurdle especially for new teachers with zero or limited teaching experience.

I remember my own experience as a newbie teacher, when I’d easily be intimidated by the different personalities I met in class – be it one-to-one or small group classes. But as I eased myself into teaching day by day, I discovered strategies that helped keep my students on their toes, focused, and interested with our lessons.

Here I share 10 ways by which you can engage your EFL students, no matter what their age and language level.

* Recognize the learning styles of your students. Experts say people have their preferred learning style or technique. Some learn better by reading or looking at pictures, not just hearing or doing. Some do well by hearing and listening. EFL students with this style learn new words better by hearing the sound of the words and repeating them. They understand quickly when they read aloud. Some can learn better by doing. Hands-on activities, such as acting out a role, or drawing an image to represent a word, work best for them.

In my case, I’m more of a visual learner than tactile. I’m also auditory because I like listening to lectures or podcasts, with some background music to help me relax.

When you know your students’ particular learning style, you can adjust your teaching approach, lesson presentations, class activities, and homework to help them get the most out of your class.

See also this for more on learning styles.

* Do a student survey on the first day of class to gather data on this. You can download survey forms for this and other data about your students, or make your own questionnaire. The Perceptual Learning Style Questionnaire is one example. Another resource is the free online learning styles inventory test.

* Present lessons in varied forms. Use PowerPoint or any visual aids. Students today are digital.

* Avoid giving class lectures. Because you’re teaching language, your lessons can be activity-based, depending on the makeup of your students, size of class, and length of class time.

* Make your presentation short, concise then follow it up with activities. 15 – 20 minutes is a good length for one aspect of your lesson for the day. This is what I’ve also picked up from the conferences and workshops for teachers I attended. More than that can be boring or draining for students, especially the young whose attention span is short.

* Speak while writing on the board, and don’t show your back to them. Otherwise, they will do other things beside taking down notes or listening to you.

* Assign individual or group reports, or assign a lesson they will have to present to the class. It’s a great way to facilitate active, engaged learning because they get to use the language and you can ask their classmates to evaluate their presentation.

Now some teachers may or may not agree with me. But as I’ve learned the hard way, it’s better to increase student talk time vs. teacher talk time.  Especially for your beginner or low intermediate EFL students, let them have ample time to practice new vocabulary, grammar points of the target language lesson for the day. Let your students speak more than you do so they can increase their oral skills and become more familiar with the lesson. This is a sure way to keep them engaged in their language learning.

* Use rubrics, to assess their performance. Give the rubrics as guide for them, too. Rubrics are useful as well for class participation (individual or group), homework, and quizzes to help you track, measure their progress, and write your student progress reports. Search online for appropriate rubrics.

* Be ready with extra activities. Play by ear too whether you can complete the lesson in one meeting – because more important are your reinforcement activities or follow-up tasks, such as drills and substitution exercises, or whatever you have to check on how much they’ve learned for the day.

* Document what goes on in the classroom. This is useful for doing Classroom Research, at the same time inform you on how best to proceed with your teaching.

Teaching English as a foreign language can be daunting, but with these pointers above, your students will love learning English with you. And through time, as you develop your own teaching style and learn what work best with them, you can discover your own ways to help keep their interest and engagement level at an all-time high.

 

 

Our Garden of Life

Leonard Nimoy tweeted, “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.”

Sometimes when I see a beautiful flower in full bloom, I am tempted to pick and put it in a vase to enjoy it. Yet flowers stay longer right where they are until their petals close, wilt and fade. Sometimes in the best of moments, we forget to capture it in a photograph — yet perfect moments we experience are sometimes better left untouched, spared by the camera, and kept private.

Can we ever capture enough of the joy or pain, or the happiness or sadness of a moment? Many times, they remain just as beautiful or poignant, or hurtful pressed in the deep recesses of our hearts and minds, much like pressed or dried flowers…

Image source
Image Source
Image Source

This indeed is our garden of life. The journey we take, with all our experiences, good or bad, is the garden plot in which we sow seeds of growth in a variety of ways —

These are the flowers we cultivate as we nurture the garden of our lives into full bloom – developing ourselves, cultivating our potentials until we reach our full flourishing. So as we dig deeper into the soil, the foundation of our spiritual selves, we also weed out what can hinder our personal growth.

Image Source
Image Source

Each of our experiences, the people we have and encounter, are unique on their own, and provide for us an enriching life – despite the mud, thorns and prickly bushes —

 

These are mistakes we make, the hurts we cause or are caused by others, the toxic people we sometimes meet — all these provide us invaluable lessons and insights so we become stronger, better persons.

Our failings do not necessarily mar the beauty and dignity of our persons, just as thorns do not mar the beauty of a rose…

And life still remains beautiful!

Image Source

 

Note: This post was first published in 2015, and this is my revised edition (2018): new title, new photos and with minor edits.

Today My Story Begins

In my new small notebook given at a recent writing workshop I attended,

these words are written on its first page: Our Story Begins

So underneath, I wrote: TODAY… as a starter.

Onto the next page, I continued:

“Yes

            today (at one hour and a half close to midnight)

             my story begins.

I’ve found my voice

long buried beneath

the pages of years gone by

so with a vengeance

back it comes

raring to spew words…

The Voice

Now I write it anew:

“Yes

            today (at one hour and a half close to midnight)

             my story begins.

I’ve found my voice

long buried beneath

the pages of years gone by

so with a vengeance

back it comes

raring to churn, spew, spill words…

onto the pages of my notebook

Eureka! This might be the answer to the challenge that faces me each time I write for my blog and other personal writings (not work for it involves a different writing style) –

To write in the manner I did in the days of my youth — rhythmic, poetic — reflecting the inner poet in me.

Thus from today onward, I start to write like this again. Writing reflections in blended prose and poetry.

With this, I hope my blog be refreshed, and capture the attention of even just one soul…

3 Life Lessons from Photography

Indeed, “Life is like photography.” As another oft-quoted line goes, “You use /need the negatives to develop.” 

 

This truth struck me while watching the early morning scene outside the window.

 

Truly, there’s beauty in an image or in the scene before you – when there’s a balanced rendering of light and shadow. A captured image or the real scene before you is rendered more beautiful with its shadows – making it more dramatic or captivating.

In life, light and shadow are both essential – light being the good, positive things we experience, and shadow being the bad, negative ones. Without our ups and downs, we cannot truly grow.

It’s during our lowest point do we learn fresh insights, gain more wisdom – all these helping us to get up and move on. To let us rise up from the ashes of our ‘decay’ and fly again like a phoenix.

Our lowest-point experiences: the sad, bitter, painful life situations; the struggles and frustrations – all these make us appreciate our good times, our blessings, our gifts which we often fail to consider when we’re happy or content; when everything’s in our favor.

Our sufferings can motivate us to become better persons. They can also lead us to be more appreciative of ourselves – with all our light and shadows, as well: the good and bad aspects in us, that make up who we are.

My daily practice with my camera — shooting scenes of nature, the urban landscape, people, house pets, and objects – has sharpened my power of observation, letting me notice more keenly even the minutest of details, such as the slant of shadows as sunlight strikes the earth at different hours of the day.

What fascinates me most is the constant change in the way the same scenes before me are being played out second after second, minute by minute, hour after hour, day in day out.

Each passing time brings about change — slight or dramatic — depending on how light and shadow fall on anyone, anything around me. I’ve developed a keener awareness of what’s happening in my immediate environment all because I’ve learned to use my power of observation.

In the process, I’m discovering, learning more new things. Indeed, there’s so much beauty around.

Most clear – all the beauty I see around does not stay that way all the time!

Nothing’s permanent no matter how beautiful it is. So are the negative things in our lives and in ourselves.

Three important lessons we can derive from this:

  • First, we shouldn’t be too attached to anything in life, not even with the people in our lives.

Too much attachment can only cause more pain, more frustration – because it makes us expect or demand more. Just. Let. Be. A much wiser thing to do.

  • Second, we should not despair over the worst in ourselves, for there’s always HOPE for us to become better. And the sad, painful, or bad things that happen? All these, too, shall pass away.

Besides, our negative experiences make us stronger, wiser, more mature. These are opportunities we can use to grow into the finest version of ourselves and learn how to better handle such situations. Each of our life experiences is a time of discovering the truth of ourselves — the good, the bad, the ugly.

  • Finally, discovering our truth, we can choose to highlight the beauty and goodness within us because after all, we are truly beautiful creatures of God, who made us in His likeness and being. Just like how seemingly ugly a landscape is, when light is cast upon it, its beauty shines or it becomes more attractive.

Still, we need to recognize our weak points, so we can overcome these, and let our innate beauty as human persons shine.

Realizing both the good and the bad in us, we see ourselves in a better perspective, in a better light. We grow to understand, accept, and love ourselves more.

And this is how we learn to view, appreciate, and love others as well.

Writing for the Joy of It

Write for the craft, the passion, the creativity.

Writing creates something. Something is there right on the screen or in the notebook and a body of work exists. 

Writing can kill time. 

It all started with being an observer and writing it down. You can do that too.

(The above are some snippets from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-you-must-write-i-richard-a-moran)

I can’t remember a time since childhood when I didn’t like to write.

My parents often gave me a journal or a diary to write on.

In grade school, we learned to write not just sentences.

I recall how theme writing became part of our language lessons from the 4th grade up.

It made me feel good because our teachers would ask us to write with a fountain pen, not with a ball-pen, and on a special writing notebook at that.

Sometimes, I had to struggle to find the correct words, but that was fine for me. I’d just asked my Dad or my Mom for help.

You see, Mom was a language teacher, and she minored in English.

My Dad spoke English well, much better than most his peers because he worked with Americans at a very young age, during the American period (of my country’s history).

I remember my Dad gave me a Thesaurus as a birthday gift.

Perhaps he had seen how hooked I was on reading – anything, be it storybooks, newspapers/magazines, comics, even the dictionary and my Mom’s volume of “The Complete Works of Shakespeare.” So, that Thesaurus was my Dad’s support for my love for reading & writing.

Together with my Mom, he encouraged my literary inclination. Both also wrote their own poems — some of which I stumbled into which inspired me to write my own since then.

So there I should consider myself fortunate for having had a good early start and exposure to writing — but somehow through the years it had only remained an enjoyable activity, a favorite past-time. Or as an occasional outlet for pent-up emotions or bursts of creativity. I didn’t think much of it as a profession.

Well, I should have.  But what’s most important for me then was to simply write for the sheer joy of it.