1 Dec 2014...the day I pressed the 'reset' button and started my career anew in this country. It's hard to believe that 3 years have flown by!
I was on a Friday evening flight home after a week-long work trip recently. As I looked around, I can't help but to notice that most passengers were American men traveling for work. I don't usually think much about this but it struck me that day that I am traveling on a path less traveled (not unique though). Being a female who came from a developing country where English is not my first language, I have been incredibly fortunate to be where I am today and to do what I am doing now. Looking back at all the things I've done over the past 3 years, I certainly have a lot to be thankful for.
1. Thankful for a smooth relocation
Apart from lucky, I can't think of a better word to describe my entire transfer/relocation process. I was lucky to be working with an American boss who was on tour in Penang, and he was the one who suggested me to do an inter-company transfer. He even helped to find out about this client in Huntsville and hooked me up with the HR from our Birmingham office. Coincidentally, they were looking for a senior based in Huntsville, tell me about luck!
The US company took care of the relocation process, including my work visa application. All I had to do was to provide all the necessary information and attend the visa interview at the embassy. I received a relocation allowance (more than enough to cover my flight), and the company also arranged a relocation management company to assist with the logistics of my relocation, but I didn't use it because I had hubby to help. =P
I vented about having to redo all the little things like applying for social security, opening new bank account, taking driving test, driving on the other side of the road, figuring out what's 401K, and applying (and getting denied because I had no credit history) for credit cards, but I really shouldn't be complaining at all because I've received so much help along the way. For that, I am thankful.
2. Thankful for a perfect assignment
As mentioned above, I was fortunate that the assignment in Huntsville was looking for a senior and I fitted right in. What are the odds that the only tech client we have in our small office is actually located in Huntsville and is a public company, basically a perfect match for my previous experience! Best of all, my commute to work takes only 15 minutes with zero traffic. Another good thing about this assignment was that it kept me busy and in town for at least 60% of the year, so I was able to stay home and work remotely for the most part. So thankful with how things worked out so perfectly for my first 3 years here!
3. Thankful for a great boss
I always tell people that whether or not you enjoy your work depends not so much on the work you do, it depends more on who you work with. The nature of our job is such that we don't really get to choose who we work with, and it really depends a lot on luck. The company hires good people in general, but everyone has different personalities and work styles, and I've been lucky to work with bosses that fit my style and appreciate my hard work. Over the past 7 years, I've really only worked with 3 partners, which is considered very few for our industry. In some way or another, they've helped me progress professionally and personally. I've enjoyed working with and learning from them, and I'm truly thankful to meet these great bosses throughout my career.
4. Thankful for good team members
Being the only Asian in my office, people hasn't treated me any differently, which I take as a compliment probably because my English is good enough. =P Coming in as someone new, I had to establish new relationships and build trust with others in my team. My motto is that nobody owes you anything, be grateful and thankful for good team members. Seniority doesn't necessarily mean you are better, smarter, or more superior than others. Respect is earned and being conceited will get you nowhere. I constantly remind myself to keep both feet on the ground, be humble, and be willing to learn. A little appreciation goes a long way and I'm so thankful to have worked with team members who are nice, helpful, and responsible (for the most part). =P
5. Thankful for the opportunity to travel
I enjoy traveling for work and I'm one of the rare ones in our office who volunteers for any travel opportunities. I clearly remember how excited I was to travel on my first work trip to Shanghai back in 2011. Over the last 3 years, I've been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to 12 cities for various types of work - Houston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Tampa, New York, Dallas, Orlando, Auburn, Minneapolis, Tyler, Ohio, and Atlanta. I don't get paid more for work travels, but the points and miles makes up for it. =P
6. Thankful to work on a special project
I spent two months traveling back and forth Dallas for a special project last year. This project was related to the job I worked on back in Penang so the team asked if I wanted to help out. The manager and partner on this project were people I used to work with back in Penang 3 years ago. It was a weird coincidence how all of us ended up working together again in the same team despite working in 3 different states in the US. Even weirder, one of the client came to the US from Penang just to work on this project and we've known each other since college. This is a 'special' project indeed! From Malaysia to the US, it's amazing how small the world can be! You never know where life will take you and who you will cross path with, so always put your best foot forward in everything you do. You may not notice it but people do remember and recognize your good work. On a side note, these two months of travel pretty much funded our round-the-world trip this year and getting a special bonus was icing on the cake. =P
7. Thankful for completing CPA
It was frustrating that my UK-based professional qualification is not accepted in the US and I had to take all 4 CPA exams to be certified and licensed here. Being the only person in our office with a foreign qualification, I had to navigate my path through the exams and getting licensed in Alabama myself with almost no help from HR. I lost count of the number of nights I stayed up till 3-4am to study after a full day of work, but I'm just glad to be able to pass all my exams without failing (with an average score of 89). =P
8. Thankful to be promoted
I came here knowing nothing about jargons like 10-K, 10-Q, or 8-K. It was a steep learning curve but I'm glad I was given more time to learn and pick up all the new things here in the US. It took a little longer (than in Penang) to get promoted to manager because of this whole transfer thingy but I'm still thankful to make manager before turning 30. =P Slowly but surely. It was actually a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to spend more time in town over the last 2.5 years.
Be thankful for what you have, while working for what you want.
- Hellen Keller
I sound like I have the perfect job, but there are certainly times when I get stressed or frustrated with work. Most of the time, they are 'human-created' problems. However, I constantly remind myself that I can't control how others think or behave, but I can control how I look at things. I'm thankful just to be able to have a job that pays fairly well. Work is a long marathon, and at some point it may break your heart, but gratitude will keep us going. Always remember, things could always be worse. =P