Confessions from cutthroat academia

I was reading an article earlier about cutthroat students in law school. Apparently there are crazy people out there who would do anything to get the top grade in the class, including but not limited to:

  1. “Accidentally” ripping out pages of a required textbook in the library.
  2. Refusing to lend notes.
  3. Giving out misinformation.
  4. Purposely hogging up the professor’s office hours.

I was pretty surprised about #3. I mean, who does that? Sooner or later, the person whom you purposely gave false information to will figure it out, and there goes your reputation/trust/friendship. Unless that was your goal anyway, in which case, keep it up, Iago!

But on a more serious note, I’ve had experience with these cutthroat-type environments. Right now, in fact.

Welcome to my college.

In the second week of classes my freshman year, I asked three upperclassmen if I could borrow their notes for a previous lecture I missed. The answers ranged from, “Sorry, I don’t take notes,” to “I don’t have my notebook with me.” Um, okay, give me a break.

I’ve also encountered several cases when the library’s copy of a course textbook goes “missing.” Hmm.

Let’s not forget the times I needed my friend to proofread my essay’s introduction (one single paragraph, literally 1/3 of a page), but she was conveniently too busy. But not too busy for updating her Facebook status and uploading photos, by the way.

But like every basket of apples, there are the few rotten ones and the perfectly good ones. (Unless you just have a basket of bad apples, in which case, you should probably go choose another basket.) Although I’ve met my share of cutthroat, lazy, competitive students, I’ve also met plenty of friendly students who are willing to help out their fellow classmates.  I’m thankful for the classmate who shared her textbook with me for a semester, for the friend who photocopied her notes for me that time I was sick, and the seniors who took the time to help edit my philosophy and history essays.

Yeah, being in a cutthroat environment has helped me learn to fend for myself. I’ve learned not to rely too much on others. But it’s also made me more sympathetic towards people, because I can now easily imagine myself in their situation. Missed a lecture due to illness and need notes? Been there. Need someone to proofread a haphazard paper? Done that.

Now, I gladly share notes or explain concepts from class with people. Who says you need to make everyone else fail to become great? I mean, if you have to claw your way to the top and step on everyone else along the way, no offense, but you’re pretty pathetic. Seriously. Have fun getting to the top by yourself.

Throughout life, we’ll always face situations where ultra-competitive people try to put us down. Don’t retaliate by becoming one of them.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Internship Tales from Hell

 

Virtual internships are a growing trend nowadays, because unless you’re living under a rock or out in the Andes, it’s likely that you have access to the Internet. And let’s face it, the majority of work we do in the office requires Internet. Research, stock trends, Google searches…  

Recently, I found this (unpaid) virtual internship with a startup consulting firm.  It’s very small as it just launched. I thought it had potential, so I was pretty excited when I got the position–woohoo, a virtual internship, this will be a piece of cake! I can work while wearing my pajamas from home! Right?

Whoever said to beware of seemingly good things was right. First, let’s just say the CEO (are you still technically a CEO when the firm only has two employees?) is crazy. Crazy as in completely unrealistic, unorganized, and impractical.

First of all, the guy has no clue that you’re not supposed to go ahead with phone meetings without waiting for a confirmation from the other party. I was out all day on Saturday, doing research for my paper and meeting friends for lunch. I got back to find missed phone calls on Skype because he had decided, literally 1 minute before the call, that we were going to have the phone meeting right then and there. Without confirming it with me. Okay, Mr. CEO, clearly the world revolves around you and nobody else’s schedule matters.

I could go on about all the last minute phone calls he’s placed / dropped.  I’ve had to rearrange entire schedules in order to accommodate his phone meetings, only to have him cancel them at the last minute. Then he’d make some excuse and ask if we can reschedule for *insert specific time frame for later that same day*. Yes dude, why not just have me set aside my entire day waiting for your call, then? 

My first few tasks for the firm involved conducting research that was going to be presented at a press conference in less than 4 days. The firm expected me to exploit utilize my college library and find a plethora of sources relevant to the project. The material also had to be extremely detailed.

Mr. CEO had the illusion that I could get the research material easily through my helpful college librarians and campus experts in the field of study. I don’t know how long he’s been out of college for, but professors and college librarians actually have schedules too, you know. Yes, I know it’s hard to imagine that the rest of the world doesn’t follow your schedule. How dare they?

Basically, it’s melted to the point where I’ve realized this firm is not worth an unpaid internship. Even if it was paid, I would have a pretty hard time justifying working for such a cluttered boss. On the bright side, I’m glad it’s a virtual internship, because I can actually quit without losing dignity. I mean, technically I’ve never talked to my employer face-to-face, believe it or not. Even the Skype calls are just phone calls, never video calls. We’ll just move on from the experience, two specks in the World Wide Web.

Unpaid internships stink. They’re just another way for employers to exploit free labor under the guise of “we’ll offer you experience! That’s what matters most!” Um, right. Chances are, unless the internship is for a well-respected, famous company, you could build character better by working at a grocery store or as a lifeguard at your summer pool. Don’t take the pencil-pusher job.

 

 

 

 

Personal Anecdotes for Breakfast at Midnight

I used to consider myself a boring person. I was always in awe of people who had tons of anecdotes and personal stories to share. How do they do it? Is everyone else’s life really that much more interesting than mine?

Then I started paying attention to these stories more. Stories about pet cats, stories about rogue traffic lights, and stories about rescuing drunk college students from the dean. And that’s when I realized: “Hey, I have just as interesting experiences to share. And also, dude, you told that story last week.”

Point is, never put yourself down. Don’t believe you’re boring. Everyone has amazing/humorous/serious/*insert adjective here* stories to share.

And of course, this wouldn’t be much of a post if I didn’t share some of my personal anecdotes. Unfortunately, it’s not just an anecdote I’ll be sharing; it’s more like a long-winded rant. So if you’re not into rants, I’ll end it here and say, Happy Easter!

Continue reading Personal Anecdotes for Breakfast at Midnight

Testing the Chromebook

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Because I’m totally into tech stuff and have VIP access to stuff on campus (just kidding about the VIP part… well, kind of), I am now a temporary owner of the newly trending Chromebook. (For the sake of clarifications, I’m using a Chromebook designed for Toshiba. Yes, the above picture is a Chromebook for Samsung. Don’t ask me, I just grabbed the first decent-looking image I could find.)

 

What’s a Chromebook? It’s an extremely simple laptop designed by Google that lets you do one thing: surf the Internet. You can’t install Microsoft Office (or anything, really), but not to fret: the Google Chromebook comes with Google Docs, which are basically your Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Excel wrapped in a handy online-access cloud. All you need is a Gmail account. Cloud computing was the future and is the now.

What’s the point of a laptop if you can’t download anything?

If you think about it, most people who use laptops nowadays only use them for emailing, writing documents, and watching YouTube videos. As long as you have access to the Internet, your laptop has done its job. Right? Right. Plus, my Chromebook is lighter than a Macbook Pro. Seriously, I never thought that would be possible. Forget about my bulky PC; PCs just never seem to win in the “lightest weight” category.

 

Who does the Chromebook target?

The Chromebook is mainly targeted at (surprise!) students and young professionals. I mean, unless you’re a computer science student and need to download Mathlab or DrJava or some coding program, you don’t really need a fancy laptop with all the background capabilities, right? You just want access to the Internet and the ability to take notes on a portable, lightweight device. (But then I ask, why not use a pen and notebook like in the olden days? The people of generations past all turned out fine without taking notes on laptops.)

Then again, not being able to download anything on the Chromebook is kind of a downside. A major downside. Because this means you can’t install the Adobe Creative Suite, or printer settings for your local office (you have to print through “cloud printing”), and a bunch more tools I can’t think off the top of my head right now. But no, really, not being able to install programs on your computer is pretty bad.

 

Should I get a Chromebook?

If you primarily just need a device to access the Internet, then yes. Chromebooks are relatively cheap ($200 range…same as an iPad). As for myself, I prefer to stick with my regular PC, despite its bulkiness and loud noises that it makes. (On a side note, did you know that apparently the average lifespan for a PC is 5 years? And now I’m pretty sad, because my PC is on year 4 and it has been my best friend… But then I think about why they last so short in the first place: probably because the companies want us to purchase newer laptops. Figures.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How My First Week Back into Facebook Went

I don’t use Facebook. I know what you’re thinking. Liar! What about this post?

Okay, let me clarify. I stopped using Facebook after my second year of college. (And if anything, that post should offer some good explanations for why.)

Admittedly I lost touch with most of the people whom I went to high school with, but I was never left out. I still had Skype, email, and (wouldn’t you believe it?) text messaging. Gasp,  so I could still communicate with people. Shocker.

Recently, against my better judgment, I decided to reenter the world of Facebook again. Why? Several (*ahem*) important reasons…

  1. My friend who lives 3,242 miles away urged me to rejoin. She and I have been keeping up primarily through text messages.
  2. There was a recent event I attended, and my friends all posted pictures. Normally they’d send me a email link to the pictures, knowing I don’t have Facebook, but there are usually photos that they missed.
  3. There are Facebook groups for the campus organizations I’m a part of.
  4. BECAUSE. JUST BECAUSE.

After a week of non-stop friend requests and bored clicking, here are my responses to the above points in order:

  1. Added friend. We don’t exchange a single word/comment/like on Facebook. She sends me a text message 4 days later and we continue our previous conversations… via text.
  2. Photos? The only thing that changed is now I have to deal with endless notifications about photos I’m tagged in .
  3. The Facebook groups for the campus clubs I’m in don’t seem to post anything of importance. When they do, they also send out an email to all their members anyway.
  4. No. Just no.

There is absolutely nothing worthwhile about rejoining, as I expected.

But it’s a good networking opportunity! On Facebook? Where people post pictures of cat memes and party pics?

You can keep in touch with friends on the other side of the globe! Facebook’s blocked in China, I thought you knew…

You miss important campus news and events! If they were truly important, they’d be forwarded to my email inbox. All the smart event organizers do that, anyway.

It gives you an ego boost when someone likes your photo. ADMIT IT. Eh. But I get more of an ego boost when I realize I have achieved more work in an hour at the library than someone else who surfs Facebook every 15 minutes.

So, BRB, deactivating Facebook again. Unless something dire comes up and requires me to use a social media site. In which case, hello? WordPress, anyone?

Extra reading on the merits and non-merits of Facebook by one of the most influential writers for college students of all time (disclaimer: no, it’s not me).

The Anonymity of Blogs

Recently, I’ve discovered that quite a few of my classmates have blogs, too. Unlike me, they aren’t afraid to use their real names, upload actual photos of themselves and their friends/family, etc.

I’ve considered doing that, but the thing is, I like the anonymity of an anonymous blog. I like to rant on here. I like to whine. I like to write about my surroundings without revealing the identity of the author…that is, myself.

Otherwise, what would be the point of this blog? I could easily write out my thoughts on Facebook or even Twitter. I’d have a stream of followers who know me in real life, and although there are good sides to that, there are also 99 bad things with that. Let’s name a few.

  1. People like to judge others. Through actions, clothes, character, personal beliefs, etc. I don’t need the intricacies of my wandering writings added to the list.
  2. People also get offended really easily. I’d have to start sugarcoating my posts for a superficial audience.
  3. Stalkers from the Philippines could probably track you down. Think about it: you’ll be revealing your real name, real photos of yourself, and a real timeline of your life. Forget hackers and their methods of extracting addresses from a .jpg; a high schooler should be able to find you, if they tried hard enough.
  4. Self-conscious + rants = not a good combo. Embarrassment. Abort, abort.
  5. Blackmailers who go through your entire archive. That post you wrote 2 years ago? Yup.

Basically, I like having private thoughts be addressed to no one in particular in the infinite universe. Knowing that my colleague from Spanish class or my crush from Florida will read my posts is fine. Knowing that they’ll read my posts with the knowledge that I am the writer is a bit, uh… uncomfortable. And that’s when I cue the sugarcoating.

 

 

Fall Semester Has Fallen Down

Happy 2014 everyone!

(I’m too late to the chase, but what else is new? I’m a professional procrastinator, after all.)

So I’ve been rethinking the whole college experience. Fall semester was quite memorable. I have learned absolutely nothing useful from my abstract algebra class, except how to make your GPA plummet and how to pretend to understand useless proofs that you will never use in the real world. 

I also learned nothing from my history class aside from facts I could have looked up on Wikipedia myself. I remember back in high school, a teacher told us that college does not improve your writing skills. Instead, you develop it on your own, through trials and B essays and all-nighters.  This is 100% true. My history professor, despite being a great lecturer, did not teach us how to effectively improve our writing at all. He even commented that my writing was at times “too decorative” for history writing.

(Let me just say that in my previous history classes, none of the professors ever said that. In fact, one previous professor had encouraged me to use more descriptive, colorful words. Contradictory advice? Dogmatic views? Welcome to academia.)

Basically, the only useful things I learned were how to sound confident during class discussions, how to do ace research, and how to manage your time well. 

Well, okay, I suppose my economics classes were pretty useful.

I guess it’s like what my dad always says: After you graduate, you will likely never use what you learned in school again. Not the Pythagorean Theorem. Not formulas for diminishing marginal demand. However, what you do take away is your critical thinking skills.

 

 

 

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