Sometimes, all it takes is just one person believing in you

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Seven weeks ago, I joined an IT Solutions company in Makati as a Data Architect. Oh, just how fast the time flies! After almost six years of being a Data Analyst in an automotive company in North America, it was definitely a whole new work environment. I have been assigned to a digital bank that will officially launch in the Philippines next month; Honestly, it is one of the few things that excite me more than anything else.

When I attended the interview for this current job of mine, I really had no expectations at all. I joined the virtual interview with the client for the sake of just attending it. (Looking back, I wonder if this served as my key to getting the job? I mean, this thinking allowed me to stay true to myself and what I really know in terms of technical skills at that time.) Perhaps it is because the roles and responsibilities posted on the job site were so different from what I was doing in my previous work, or probably because during college, I never excelled in the courses where SQL, database management, or anything in between these two are concerned. I actually regret choosing to pursue Information Technology as my degree at one point. Haha.

Ever since I started studying for MBA, I knew in my heart that I wanted to pursue a career that shall lead me to research and/or management roles. I felt at my best when writing and presenting the research paper I created out of the hundreds of studies I read. These studies were conducted in the past years that tested theories and eventually came up with solutions that helped the body of knowledge thrive even more. I knew I wanted to be a part of that; I wanted to provide a solution through the paper I have published. I would stay up all night until I deemed that my paper turned out the way I wanted it to be; Although it would literally make me sick once past the defense day, it never once crossed my mind to give up that ecstatic feeling. It made me euphoric, especially when my Professors and/or panels gave my paper good feedback.

Apart from this, post-graduate school has unleashed the wanna-be manager in me. I know, I know. It’s never easy to manage people and businesses. Aside from having a lot of work that shall be done independently, managers are also responsible to their team members. But more so, there is much to learn, specifically the dynamics of being one, in the real world. Albeit challenging and obviously hard, I still wanted to try it out. In fact, I also received a job offer for a Project Manager role in a healthcare company which I declined, mainly because I felt that the Data Architecture role would be more fulfilling and challenging for me.

Well, sometimes, what you want does not really happen in an instant I guess?

A Whole New World

On my first day at work, my Immediate Supervisor from the digital bank told me: “Shai, I have the intention of absorbing you. No pressure or anything, I just want you to know.”. That surprised me a lot. I thought, considering that you do not yet know how I work and how I am as your team member, you are already thinking about the absorption/internal hiring process? To me, that is pretty crazy. Of course, I could not tell her that. I was too astonished to feel and think that someone who only knows my name, previous job experiences, and thought process has actually good intentions for me in the long run. It was news to me, mainly because no one really made me feel that way. Not even in my personal life, no.

During my first week, my task was to read all the business process documents and data catalogs/dictionaries within the company to help me jump-start with everything. I was also reading the market research they have conducted and watching recorded presentations. I was not really using my brain at this point; I was consuming information that would help me produce data models that would reflect both the goals of the business as well as the needs of our target consumers.

Since then, I have been given more and more tasks that help me be involved in processes that someday I might be doing on my own. Albeit these were considered leg work, they helped me understand what, why, and how the overall project the digital bank — is. Aside from being exposed to data management, modeling, and mapping, the tasks allowed me to meet new people in this new environment I now belong.

I am talking to different nationalities with different job titles whom I exchange ideas with all the time. I cannot say for sure that I am great or an expert at this point, but knowing that my thoughts are heard despite being relatively new empowered and motivated me.

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Before I ended my day yesterday, I had a meeting with my Immediate Supervisor. Initially, she asked me how my week was and how I felt about the tasks assigned to me in the past few days. I told her everything about the challenge I have faced this week in one of the leg works I was doing and what I have learned from it. Here is one of the many things I love about her — she is patient in helping me, not just with the technicalities of the work itself but also with how I should deal with certain situations. She is so supportive and trusting of me, which I see as a privilege because as much as I love having a mentor, I also love working on my own. I do not know if it is just me, but I learn a lot from working alone. Although, of course, one must find the balance and know when it is time to ask for help. That is something that I had to learn the hard way in my previous job.

After that, we talked about the progress of my real work as a Data Architect. These tasks involve data modeling and mapping that are advanced and are not leg works anymore. I presented what I have accomplished from the discussions I have had with the solutions architects, developers, data engineers, business analysts, consultants, etc., with some confirmation needed here and there. Please take note: she is the Data Management Head, which means that even the subject matter experts I regularly work with will need to confirm first with her whenever I ask questions they could not seem to answer. Yes, that is how powerful she is.

There were so many instances that she asked what I thought about a particular question before she said her piece; Honestly, it was moments like that where I felt valued as her team member. Every now and then, we just spilled our ideas and thoughts about the company’s product, and in the end, we came up with ideas that were way better than we first thought.

It felt magical; To be heard and have the opportunity to collaborate with someone you know is experienced in the data field and someone you truly respect. It has been a while since I felt this intense desire to learn and have the ultimate goal of being like her someday.

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Eventually, our meeting about work led to a semi-personal conversation that I will never ever in my life forget. Initially, we talked about what we wanted to achieve in our careers. She gave me an idea of the opportunities that might unfold should I allow myself to grow as a Data Architect. Gosh! She even gave me brief information on how I shall negotiate better should I be asked to join another company. She told me many stories about her career journey which encouraged me to grow further. I even told her that one of my greatest fears is to be in a state where I do not want to learn anymore. She agreed; She said she is scared of being in that state, too. Despite being in her mid-thirties, she is still passionate about learning new things, which is something that I admire about her as well.

She then told me that when she interviewed me, she knew she wanted me to be a part of her team. She liked how I answered her questions, specifically my thought process. In the brief time we talked, she saw I had potential despite being inexperienced in the field of Data Architecture. She knew that she is responsible for introducing me to massive things once I joined the team, which she saw as a challenge rather than a downside. I was close to tearing up when she told me this because I did not know what good have I done to deserve her.

A person who believes in me the way she does; Is taking action to help me grow not just professionally, even financially, whether it is under her watch or not; It felt like a dream. I felt undeserving.

After internalizing everything we talked about in our almost four hours of meeting, I suddenly remembered the reaction of the guy I used to be intimate with — my ex-boyfriend — the moment he knew he was about to graduate from college. “Shai, thank you for believing in me on days I could not. You believed that I am capable, which helped me see myself in a different light. It may not seem much, but that really means a lot to me. I will never forget this. Thank you. (NV)”. I guess I was too young or naive back then to understand why it meant that much to him; Apparently, he wanted to send me money to treat myself that day because he wanted to share his achievement with me — which, of course, I declined. Had I known he would ghost me a few months after, maybe I should have accepted the money. LOL

Kidding aside, I guess I just wanted to document what happened yesterday and post it here so that I have something to read should I feel demotivated or if self-doubts are at their peak yet again. Every story my Immediate Supervisor shared has given me the feeling of bliss once again; I feel empowered. I am motivated to be better. But more so, I am delighted someone saw that I had potential and took a chance on me. Moreover, realizing that I am continuously growing — as long as I allow myself to — in the field where I thought I was too stupid to even think of joining. I may never be the best at what I am doing now, but having someone believe in my capabilities as a Data Architect, I could not be more grateful. More than anyone could ever know.

After doing a self-reflection (in the loo haha), I recognized how I always limit myself to many possibilities despite being aware that I am keen and passionate about learning. The eagerness to grow and being unfrightened to go out of my comfort zone has always been my strength, yet it does not reflect how I think about myself. I wanted to blame my childhood experiences — that no one gives me words of affirmation and pressures me instead — but I know that would be too immature. I guess I will have to do more self-awareness sessions like reflections and whatnot.

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Although it has only been seven weeks since I started, I am confident to say that I am enjoying my work so far. I am happy and contented, and I look forward to every tomorrow that is yet to come. It has been a while since the last time I felt this way; Albeit there are still bumps here and there, I manifest I am about to see enormous things in life. And to that, I am excited as fuck!

I guess it is safe to say that in my case, all it took was that one person who believed in me and saw that I had potential despite me feeling like trash every day. She helped me finally see what once was a non-existing door of many possibilities and opportunities.

And in many aspects, I appreciate her a lot and wish that many people would meet people like her. I know she is rare, but I am not losing hope. Who knows… one day we might be her in other people’s stories. ( ◡‿◡ *)

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heyyeahshaioh

heyyeahshaioh

An eccentric, vulnerable, and crappy damsel blessed with a resting bitch face.