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spikegifted.net - Archive Q3 2003

September 2003:
- It has been three weeks since I've had my second interview and I finally plugged up my courage to call the bank to ask for feedback on the interview. I have only done that after an extensive chat with my outplacement consultant who advised me that I've been patient enough and calling after three weeks is hardly a sign of desperation. Normally, in the recruitment processes I've been involved in, there're usually head hunters acting as intermediaries who will chase up on my behalf. However, since I'm contacting the bank directly, I felt unsure about what to do next. Anyway, I called and my HR contact who confirmed that there has been feed back and it is positive. While there was no clear indication of where the process is heading next, it would appear that there will be at least another round of interview. Hopefully, I'd hear from them in the next week or so.
- After the amazing summer that we've enjoyed, early part of autumn can only be considered as good - three weeks into September, daytime temperature has remained around the low to mid twenties and I haven't seen any rain this month yet.
- It is 2 years to the day (September 11, 2001) that the worst act of evil the world has ever seen unfolded over the skies of the USA. To this day, I'm still numb from the feeling I had as I monitored the tragic events in a chat forum of one of the hardware websites as the main news websites were all unresponsive (our part of the office did not have a TV). Words still fail me when I think of the shock, dismay and terror as news of events were reported by forums members. May the world never have to witness such terrifying acts of evil ever again.
- It has been a very busy start to September. First of all the brother of the Ruler_of_spike came to London for a business conference and he stayed at our apartment for the duration. At the same time, one of my cousins from Hong Kong spent part of her vacation in Scotland and another part of it in London and she was staying over also. Needless to say, our apartment was a very busy place for a few days and there were some innovative sleeping arrangements being tested for the first time. While we've previously had guests staying over, but now like this before. I'm glad to report that the Ruler_of_spike's brother had a successful business conference and my cousin had a pleasant stay in London. Now that they've gone, the apartment suddenly seems very empty.
- One of the head hunters managed to get me into an interview with another bank. This is the first time since I was made redundant that a head hunter has managed to secure an interview for me - a signed that my skills can be marketed successfully. I think I performed well under the circumstances, but clearly, as I've indicated with the other interviews, I'm rusty - it has been 2.5 years since I completed my last credit review. No amount of reading on the subject matter can replace the actual hands-on work done on a day-to-day basis. An additional surprise was that the head hunter seemed to have forgotten to tell me that they wanted one particular quality that I know I don't have and it turned out to be one of the issues the bank has with me. While it is a disappointment that I haven't been selected for the second round, I'm not disheartened - this is good interview practice and like all things in life, practice makes perfect. However, I feel that I need to find more ways to polish up my skills, but my resources are limited. The fact that I'm not actually doing the work, but rather reading someone else's work, will not give me the required experience, nevertheless, it will give me better insight, I hope.
- Definite signs of a higher level of activities are now evident - a number of head hunters have been talking to me excitedly about possible opportunities, but not all of them are directly relevant. Nevertheless, this is good - I feel a wind of optimism blowing in my sail. Although I'm not feeling light-headed and my feet are still firmly planted on the ground, I feel that, at last, there are a few more things happening now, compared with couple of months ago. I just hope that I'll find something I enjoy doing in the near future.
August 2003:
- After waiting for over a month, I final got through to the second round interview. With the interview arranged and confirmed, I was excited but at the same time nervous. Since the first round interview, I've made some preparations, since I knew that I was a little thin on the ground on one of key parts of the job in question. However, no matter how much I tried to prepare by reading up some rating methodology papers and rating reports, I myself still lacking the actual experience. The interview itself was conducted in two mini sessions. The first session was conducted by two people and I was pushed, hard. While sitting there, I really wished that I made better preparations, both mentally and technically. While I think I was mentally agile, these guys pushed me. On the other hand, I was rusty - in that my credit reasoning was not up to speed. On the other hand, I hope I demonstrated that I have the basic credit skills and that I can perform under pressure. The second part of the interview was significantly easier - I was talking to just one person and the conversation was not technical. I think I demonstrated my desire for the job and hope that I convinced him. After the interview, while I was walking away from the bank, I saw the hiring manager who I talked to in the first interview. He and I had a good chat, and I found out a little more about the interview process both for myself and for other unnamed candidates. There is still plenty of competition and I can't tell if I'm winning yet. Time will tell...
- A friend of the Ruler_of_spike and her husband stayed over at our apartment with their daughter. Oh my, she's such a cute little girl. Seeing her and her parents, I am looking forward to the day that the Ruler_of_spike and I are married and become parents. While my current situation is not the most suitable of time to consider 'tying the knot' with her, I can see how happy we can be sometime in the future when we're married and have our own child/children
- The end of the summer vacation is fast approaching and signs are that there should be some activities in the near future. How can I tell? Well, a couple of head-hunters have been in active contact with me in the past couple of weeks and the ideas they're putting forward are interesting, challenging and, at the same time, realistic. Moreover, I hope that the second interview can be arranged soon. In the coming, I'll need to devote sometime to polish up on a couple of issues and getting myself mentally and physically ready for the interviews ahead.
- After two weeks of uncomfortably hot conditions, the temperature here has returned to a more reasonable level. The weather has continued to be very nice, for UK standards anyway. Unfortunately, despite the good weather, I'm still not enjoying myself - there's still this nagging problem of being out of work.
- Still waiting for news of a second interview. That's to be expected, it is, after all, this is summer vacation time and it is very difficult to coordinate things when people are away.
- The heat wave is showing no sign of going away, just yet. The second weekend of August has brought the hottest temperature in the UK since records began. I thought the first week was hot (which it was), but at least it wasn't humid. This week, the second week, is hot and humid!! It is difficult to sleep at night and it is difficult to stay awake during the day. If I go and do any exercise, which I did a number of times, the sweat just pours down. At the moment, I'm showering twice, even three times, a day to rid myself of the stickiness and I'm sweating as soon as I'm done with the shower. Since there's very little going on the job-hunting front, I try to make some progress on some reading. However, I'm finding it hard to concentrate with the heat - I'm sweating simply sitting down to read - there's no wind to move the air.
- So far, it has been a very hot summer and it doesn't appear that this heat wave is going to end any time soon... While it is rather frustrating (no matter how philosophical I try) to be out of work, I am glad that I don't have to deal with the daily commute. The impression people have of London is that it is a fast pace modern city, however, in many aspects, it can't be further from the truth. For those who don't know, the United Kingdom seldom enjoys long stretches of good summer weather. Most of the time, this country is grey, misty and drizzles a lot. Hence this place is completely unequipped for hot weather. If you're unfortunate enough to be spending time in the Underground (London's subway), you'd know how insanely hot it is on days like these! Imagine you have to do this everyday as part of your commute...
July 2003:
- A sign of how fast time has passed is that I've just realized that the last time I went to live rock concert was over a staggering 6 years ago!! For one reason or another, I just haven't been to one since 1996; and to be completely honest, I haven't really looked. Anyway, after all this time, I went to see ZZ Top with a few of my friends... I was a little apprehensive since I haven't listen to any of their stuff since the early 1990s, so I went out and bought their greatest hit CD to remind myself. May be it is a sign of things to come, the crowd in this concert is the oldest I've seen, ever! I must be one of the younger guys there - I was certainly the youngest one in our group... Great show! It's vintage ZZ Top - they've all the songs, all the moves and even all the cliché jokes, also. It was thoroughly good evening out.
- Since I now have a lot of time and energy at my disposal, I've decided to write a piece on risk management based on my understanding on the subject. It is not for anyone's benefit but for my own personal satisfaction. The initial idea came around the beginning of May and it has taken a lot of thinking and careful planning to complete it. For those who are interested and have a view on this subject, please feel free to drop me a line. if you've any views.
- It has been 3 months to the day since I was laid off and I've an interview. The job is very much in line with what I want to do and the organization is one of those that one aspire to become part of. Aside from, knowing the job, I've done some background research and mentally prepared myself for the interview. It turned out to be fairly technical. While I think I have demonstrated that I know the work that I've done in the past, there're clearly gaps in my skills. However, I believe that the interview has gone well and I think I've made the right impression. Let's see how far I can go with this.
- For the past month or two, the weather in the UK has been unusually nice. With the exception of a couple of days now and then, daytime maximum temperature has been reaching somewhere between 25-30C, with nearly unbroken sunshine everyday. This is, of course, highly unusual. A clear sign that I'm getting a little old and getting mellow is that I don't really crave for weather like this anymore. Once upon a time, I'd give my right arm and several vital organs to have weather like this everyday. Now, I actually find it is too hot. Another point is that if I was working, I'd spend my weekdays in an air-conditioned office - under pressure, but cool as a cucumber. Aside from the hell of the daily commute to and from the office, I'd be protected and sheltered from the heat. More to the point, I'd be otherwise occupied and would not have the chance to complain the fine weather that we're enjoying.
- The Ruler_of_spike has just come back from a ten-day trip to France. Although it was meant to be a short vacation, she has a very busy time when she was over. I, on the other hand, have stayed in the UK, since I'm still trying to follow up some of the opportunities with the head-hunters. It has been a very busy time also. May be the motivation to get the apartment into a good shape before my girlfriend came back from her trip. It may have been the fact that I was bored. It is possible that I had other motivation that I wasn't consciously aware... Anyway, I nearly cleaned the entire apartment during the time when she was away. I also managed to carry out a small re-arrangement exercise in the spare bedroom (where my rigs are). For a few days, I was vacuuming the carpet, dusting and cleaning all the surfaces, washing the bathroom, cleaning the windows... It gave me a certain level of satisfaction. To be completely honest, my working style may have dictated when I can carry out such projects. Can you imagine the kind of mess there was in the apartment when I was doing all this? Anyway, I got the job done and both she and I are happy that the place looks really clean, for once.
- While finding a job in itself is a full time job, it is very tedious work, no matter how proactive I make the process. To fill out some of my time, I've picked up a piece of consultancy work. It has been slow progress and it has been dragging on since the beginning of June. However, much of the delay has been caused by finding the right people to speak to find the right information and the slowness of obtaining that information. However, after nearly 5 weeks of effort, the work is now completed. This is no substitution for the real thing, but at least it is something I can devote energy to. A job completed, no matter how irrelevant to the 'grand scheme of thing', brings a certain level of satisfaction.
- Wow! Has it been two months since I left my job? Time flies. It has not been an easy time in these past few weeks. It has given my lots of opportunities to reflect on my situation and focus on what I really want to do, however, thinking about it will only bring me so far and I need to be doing more to get to the next stage - getting that job... The market is difficult and opportunities are scarce, but my efforts remain focused and my approach pro-active. There are jobs out there, I've seen them, I just need to be talking to the right people at the right time. While the prospect of finding that job before the end of the summer is definitely out of question, I'm still chasing down the few opportunities that I feel (and I know) that I'm suitable for. The age-old saying "God helps those who help themselves" is certainly something that I believe in strongly; given time, my effort would not be in vain.