The Rollercoaster Life – Part 1 (Reflection of 5 Years in Real Life)

RollerCoaster Life

We can’t design our life like a building.
It doesn’t work that way.
Just take the leap, have faith to live it,
and it will design itself.
Well, It may become like a rollercoaster ride,
but we always have a choice,
to either scream or just enjoy the ride…

Well, life is really just going so fast. Somehow, I can hardly believe it. ‘Cause it felt like just yesterday that I graduate from college and being “thrown away” to a so called “Real Life”. And as this year kicking-off, I sort of forgot that it’s been more than five years since the day I got my first job, back in the end of 2008.

I think, this is surely a good time to reflect on what I’ve done for the past 5 years. Especially, I’m surprised at where I am at now, compared to five years ago. It may a long post, but personally, it’s worth my time to write & share it, as such I’ll write it on several part, and this post is the first part. As the saying goes, “It’s our experience that shape who we are”, right?

The Beginning

Back on October 2008, after recently-graduate, like any other recently-graduate, I was endlessly searching job, took job-test & job-interview in various companies, attended one job fair to another job fair, traveling from one city to another city. Starting from Bandung, and just in the space of two months, I went to visit several cities e.g Jakarta, Cikarang, Karawang, Bekasi, Depok, Cilegon, Pekanbaru, Duri, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, even to Balikpapan.

Sometimes, I went from one city to another (faraway city) just in space of 2 days time. Even, I experienced one time where I was trying to rest in mosque, because I didn’t have time to find affordable place at the city I had never visited before. The harsh reality I had face at the time was it that, after countless job tests and all had the same ending, “no concrete job contract/offering”.

One thing I realize that day was that, graduate from one of big/favorite engineering institute (the kind of university where other college students would envy, or the kind of university where all parents dream that their kids can go to, or the kind of university where a lot incredibly genius students), well it didn’t matter that much. The only advantage I had was that, lot of company would give me a chance to follow their recruitment test campaign for fresh-grad engineer vacation. However, to be able to actually get the job, is entirely another different story.

To make things more miserable for me was that most of my college friends, who graduate at the same time with me, have been already started their jobs in big Oil & Gas company, surely with “a big-wow salary”. Sometimes, I was wondering why it did look too easy for them to land a lucrative job. While, I was still struggling, living from job test/interview to another test, from one city to another city, with no concrete job/contract offer whatsoever.

In fact, I was reaching the lowest point, when I got to “medical check stage” in multinational oil & gas European company (a so called “dream company” for fresh-engineers in my country), only to get “rejection” letter 2 weeks later. I found out later, out of 6 people who make it to medical check process, they only recruited 3 fresh-grad engineer at the time. It was a harsh reality for me. And honestly, I was deeply disappointed.

Of course, I still remember those feelings, the one emotion that I believe every newly-engineering graduate experiences felt, anxiety and uncertainty. I was one of millions of newly-adults, expected to make my way in the world, right? But, can I really make it? After all non-stop (hard) learning continuously in 4 years with (innocent) enthusiasm, would this degree mean something to stand-up in real-brave-new world? Where does that leave me? Where do I head to? Maybe I’ll be lucky to get a job delivering pizza.

Getting My First Job

Almost 2 months after graduate & still unemployed, after countless job applications (via posts and via e-mail), countless job ads reading on newspaper, countless online registration for countless job-vacancy websites, countless follow-up call, and with more than 30 job psychotest-HR interviews-technical interviews-medical checks (all in different companies in different city), I finally got my first job as Jr.Piping Engineer, out of the blue.

I didn’t remember how HR got my job application, because I didn’t remember that I ever applied a job to them. They called me two days before interview. I went there and all required interview completed in one day. It was never like this before, normally all job recruitment process for fresh-grad engineer may take 1-2 weeks, some company even took almost one month. And, in the next day, they called me to confirm that I got the job. OMG, I was soooo relieved that time. This was the first time the company called and told me the good news that “I got the job”.

But the thing is, this was also a real application of “chance/probability in math” that fit for purpose in real life. The concept is like, I’ve applied to 50 vacancy, out of that 50 vacancy I could get maybe 20-30 called for recruitment test & interview, then out of 20-30 test I could get 5-10 medical check (final stage), and then out of 5-10 medical check I could get 1 job offering. And, of course, I just need one job. The more vacancy I applied, the probability to get the job will also be higher. Yes, this kind of concept have served me very well in finding a dream job until today.

Of course, this was not a so called “dream company”. This was a job at Oil & Gas Contractor (which handle small EPC project on Sub-Contractor level). Of course, they also offered very small salary (a kind of salary where I should be thankful to have a job instead of complaining about the salary figure) only. If asked my friends whether they will take this offering, I’m 101% sure they will say no instantly.

But, the truth was, I didn’t care that much. I got a job, that’s all that matters to me. I convinced myself, at least this job would allow me to gain experience in corporate world, the first step to the ladder.

And, of course, working in small company, it teach me to be really flexible (by flexible I mean work very, very, very hard), and also I have to “learn by doing” by my own (because not many senior engineer that will guide me). And I realize that all the things I studied at college was mainly a basic knowledge, and I really have still long way to go. Shocking!!

First Time Work at Field/Site

After few months at the head office, then I was being assigned to Site/Field to a slightly remote location directly. Of course, I was excited at that time. It may not big established corporation (most of my friends will raise their eyebrow if I mentioned the name of this company), it may pay small, it may not handling major big project, but I didn’t give a shit. At least, I got a chance to work at Site. These were the things I used to tell to myself that day.

Refinery in Dumai

In looking back, as of today, I felt thankful to experience this assignment at an early stage of my career, because I become faster to understand piping engineering at Site. Not only about technical things, but also in regards to personal development, because I also involved to work with many types of worker (blue collar, white collar, client/company man engineer) and many different character of people.

This was the day I learned how to handle pressure, deadline responsibility, 7 days working in a week, no excuses whatsoever, real-time problem solving, sometimes “bully situations”, handle my ego, arguing without trying to insult, multitasking, etc.

This also was the day that I realize why that lot of people saying that “having a house with two picket fence, with supporting nature wife, and 2 charming kids playing in the yard” is called “a dream life”.

And (not) surprisingly, this was also the day that I got dumped by a girl. I mean, let’s be honest, what kind of girl that would be happy to develop relationship with me, where I was so busy working in slightly remote location far far away from her, and also with a lot of future uncertainty? Of course I didn’t think about all these factors when I was at college. But, the thing is, it was the time where other topics of life (such as love-romance-relationship, football, movies, music, politics, computer games, entrepreneur) just seem small, irrelevant, unimportant, and really look stupid, you know.

It was the first time thing that I have to swallow (like it or not) about real life, that I have to make the best out of whatever the reality throw at me. Well, in the summary, I only had two choices, either to scream or just enjoy the ride.

Because even though I was struggling hard that day, it’s okay, because I needed that. I needed that because I was at the beginning on a learning curve to be an engineer, on a transition from college life to real life, figuring out how to be grown-up man, and trying to figure out not necessarily who I am, but how to be who I am.

To Be Continued….

Okay, I think it’s enough for the first part. I’ll continue on second part. 🙂

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One Response to The Rollercoaster Life – Part 1 (Reflection of 5 Years in Real Life)

  1. s.m says:

    seriously, i am so impressed by your english and writing skills. where and how did you learn it?

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