Fil-Am book recommendations

Buried histories contain a part of Filipino identity. They have the ability to explain why many Filipinos easily forgive and forget, why poverty remains in so many cities, and why we treat other nationalities the way that we do.

From my BOSFilipinos blog post for April. Read it here.

I did crowdsourcing for book recs from my friends. It was really nice hearing about their own opinion on why their suggestions should be read by the Fil-Am community. I threw in a couple of my own recommendations too. Really timely post for the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this May!


Job search hacks: Because every ending is another beginning

Job hunting IS a job. It’s even tougher for an international student, with lots of companies hesitant to sponsor (“It’s not worth the hassle, fees are too expensive, we’re on a hiring freeze,” so on and so forth with the excuses). I graduated with my Master’s degree(s) loaded with confidence in my job search–a week or two passed and I felt my self-esteem dwindling. In the end I felt scared that I wasn’t enough for any opportunity that passed by. But persistence and faith got me through.

I believe job hunting is both luck and skill. You need to find that one company that you can see yourself giving your best efforts in after sending out hundreds of applications and going to countless interviews. I know; I’ve been there, which is why I would like to pass on what I know with regards to the job search here in the U.S. as oftentimes we allow ourselves to let fear overcome our spirit. Here are some tips I can give to those who are still looking:

1. Contact recruiters and headhunters. Most of them have temp and contract-to-hire roles, but at least you can work while searching for a full-time job. Also, there’s a chance for you to get absorbed by the company provided you do well in your job. Email the recruiters with your resume and a short cover letter after checking their websites for opportunities. Remember that you do not work directly for the company; rather, you work as a contractor under the staffing agency. The ones in MA are the following:

Robert Half
Beacon Hill Staffing
Labor Ready
Hire Alliance
Winter Wyman
Michael Page
Monument Staffing
Addison Group
Kelly Services

2. Join Slack forums. Search for groups online. There’s one I know for marketing and media professionals and another for tech/coders. They usually have a job opportunities channel where people just post openings from their companies. It’s a win-win situation on both sides: they get a referral bonus and you get a job. But of course, be sure to talk to people first to get to get a feel of what it’s like working at their company. Ask questions, too! Who knows, they might be strongly compelled to forward your resume directly to the hiring manager.

3. Search for Facebook groups. Check for professional networks. Do a combination words such as [your city/state] + “young professionals” or “job board.” Like Slack, many people post job opportunities online. Some of them post networking events which I’m sure wouldn’t hurt to try. If you’re more of an introvert like me which makes you less comfortable in crowds, opt to invite professionals you’re interested to talk to for a coffee chat or a phone call. Limit those conversations to less than an hour but make them meaningful as much as possible.

4. Sign up for job matching platforms. Indeed and Careerbuilder may be helpful but remember everyone can see those posts which makes for about 100 resumes submitted into those portals. Resume scanning softwares make it even harder for you to get your application viewed by the hiring manager despite your tailored resume showing your years of experience and keyword matches. Try Wayup for internships. I used RippleMatch which was really helpful in landing me phone calls and interviews. Shapr is a mobile app that works like Tinder but for professional networking. Whichever platform you use, always make sure to follow up and keep in touch with people.

5. Cold call or cold email. This is something you can do almost everyday. Look for databases of employers and LinkedIn accounts of hiring managers. You can personalize an introduction of yourself and explain why you want to contact them–be it for advice or for a job referral. The worst they can do is say no. But if they say yes, then it’s worth the try, right? Mika Reyes, Product Manager at LinkedIn, gives another networking hack on her blog on how to find people who are hiring.

So take your pick! Feel free to do all of these tricks or to just choose one or two that suits your personality. Hopefully it will work out in the end. And remember to always send a thank-you note regardless of how awkward or how great you think your interview went. Here’s to your success in the job search, that you may find something where you need to be and where you want to be. 🙂

The Life of a Consulting Intern

Building genuine connections with people was worth it in the end. That’s what I’d realized upon looking at my internship experiences. My time at Corentus was no different. If I had not reached out to an intern and friend who happened to be working for its CEO at that time, I would not have had the chance to get my foot through the door. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone in order to grow even more that’s why I took the chance when he connected me to his employer and upon meeting the co-founder of Corentus, she and I knew we would get along right away.

I’ve always heard of the big four management consulting firms: KPMG, E&Y, Deloitte, and PwC. Somehow I’ve also dreamed of walking inside the halls of those tall buildings in Boston. But for me to accomplish that, I need to gain some sort of experience and insight. It takes patience to get a job or an internship—and you’ll need the right connections for it.

Our team started working on doing an environmental scan of the management consulting firms that offer almost the same services as Corentus. Since Corentus offers team development, team coaching, and team building modules, in addition to strategic consulting and business advisory, we had to search for companies and their competitive advantages over Corentus. In the end, we narrowed it down to five companies and from there we recommended that Corentus should also be able to focus more on its online course offerings and free resources to attract more viewers and hopefully more clients.

We also worked on a business case challenge for young professionals, specifically grad students, who want to break into management consulting. We planned all the logistics and arrangements in order to attract about 50 participants in total. When we presented this to the co-founder, she was ecstatic as well. However, due to personal reasons, she decided to postpone the initial date in March and have it moved to April. Nevertheless, our team enjoyed brainstorming the challenge.

Several side projects were also handed to us over the course of those three months. My favorite was the proposing website recommendations for Corentus. They have not updated it for quite some time. I listed a set of proposals on how to improve the website, ranging from SEO keywords to adding a search bar and to even rearranging the content on their navigation bar. In the end, we had several marketing proposals for Corentus that we submitted in order to improve their management.

I hope the next batch of Corentus interns will learn as much as I did, if not more. I also hope that they will regard these takeaways as advice for them to improve their work not only as students but also as young professionals ready to take on the world of management consulting.

– Introduction I wrote as part of the Guide for Interns that we submitted for our last day at work

Filipino Culture, Festivals, and Food

What’s so amazing about this culture of togetherness that other nationalities find so fascinating? What is so special about the Filipino handaan (feast) and salusalo (get-togethers), the kamayan or boodle fight, and the festival etiquette that is associated with it? Why do we love celebrating feasts and even eating with our hands with the food served on banana leaves as a way of sharing food with the entire community?

from This is Our Strength
I took this photo on my last day in the Philippines last 2017. There was a fiesta in my grandparent’s town in Caloocan, Metro Manila.

My next blog is out! Feel free to check it out in the BOSFilipino website. I enjoyed writing this one because I made use of personal and cultural facts about fiestas in the Philippines. I’m currently reading up on Literary Journalism once again because I want to be able to gear my style towards that nowadays. Hopefully it works.

Marine Preservation and Shark Awareness

IN SIGHT OF SHARKS: A Literary and Artistic Collection for Shark Awareness–the book is finally out!

Congratulations to Paolo Tiausas and his team, together with Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines and other established writers.

From their spiel:
“How well do we really know our sharks? The numbers are urgent, but beyond those numbers are something more important: stories. Sharks have stories too, and we need to remember those stories every time we have a chance — after all, their stories resonate with us and we connect with them more than you imagine.”

Got invited to submit a poem/prose/essay/literary piece to accompany one of the artworks. Thanks to Alex Logan for inspiring me with his trivia about sharks.

Support our sharks (and artists alike)! See the payment details here.

My first blog for BOSFilipinos

There are times when I wonder what it would be like if I were lucky enough to stay for good. I wanted to take up my Master’s degree abroad right after finishing  undergrad, and only decided to become an international student because I saw a lot of other people who were taking up further studies outside the Philippines. But what many people don’t tell international students is that studying abroad is not a free ticket to becoming an immigrant. It increases your chances, yes, but they never reveal the nitty-gritty of what you have to go through just to land a job, negotiate your salary, or to get your name entered in the visa lottery, not to mention get petitioned for the green card. They don’t mention the stricter government regulations or that the current administration is not so keen on accepting foreign-born workers anymore. They just tell you life will be different, but they don’t tell you that it won’t be any easier.

From the BOSFilipino blog
Photo of Hult Filipinos (credits to Shara Cabrera)

Read the rest of it here. Really thankful to Trish Fontanilla, owner of BOSFilipinos, for helping me out in polishing the piece. We had a lot of brainstorming and even had a copyediting session (over a slice of homemade cassava cake!) after a team meeting.

I’m excited to say that this blog is the first of many! We have an upcoming series of posts that I’ve finalized with Trish, so I hope it helps the Filipino community, one way or another.

That being said, there’s a Salsa Dancing Night this Friday, February 15, at Havana Club. With all the piling requirements for school and the job search stress, I think this is a great chance for me to take a break and enjoy something I love.

Learning from the best: my SFA internship

I was ready for my last day at the internship when my boss and his lead analyst invited me for a coffee break that afternoon. We would usually go out with the entire team, talk about movies and music over hot pot or sushi. Sometimes we would just grab beer from the office fridge on a Friday afternoon and mention the latest business news. But I figured this would just be some sort of exit interview–short and simple for any last minute feedback and goodbyes.

We had built some sort of camaraderie in the office, at the very least within our team. It’s hard not to notice that especially when you’ve been an intern for almost eight months, extending from the summer until the fall and winter. I worked full-time during the summer, staying at the office from 9 to 5 and casually going out with fellow interns for lunches at the park (we were located right off the Boston Public Garden), kayaking at the Charles River, or pizza and trivia nights. During the fall and winter, I only had to go to the office twice or thrice a week, but nevertheless I met a lot of cool people at work, befriended some analysts and the management, and even heard several interns from other teams talk about their own stories and where they plan to go after finishing school.

The last day during the summer–we went out for hot chocolate at LA Burdick wearing our SFA shirts

I still remember the time I applied for this internship–the fact that it took me almost an entire month to get through two interviews and three exercises just to land an offer meant something to me. It was thanks to a previous intern and a fellow Hult Ambassador of mine who referred me after I reached out to him. He told me everything I needed to know about Search Fund Accelerator and what I should expect in the workload in order to balance it with my summer electives. There were times when I thought I was not worth paying attention to because I didn’t have a fully-fledged out career path back then, but I was lucky that someone gave me a chance and believed that I was worth listening to.

Kayaking with my co-interns

My team at SFA was probably the most influential with regards to my professional growth. I was full of hesitations back then, had a lot of questions on the workload, but I had a lot of support and feedback. “Don’t hide your talents,” my boss told me. “You’re good at doing research and preparing presentations.” He also understood my personality and even though I was usually quiet, I still managed to befriend the other people in his team. He told me that I shouldn’t have a hard time finding a job as long as I can communicate the things that I can do and am willing to do in my career.

I am grateful that he invited me to extend my internship, and that he has confided in me a lot of his plans once he finally gets a company. Sometimes we would take turns venting out how hard it is to find a company to acquire for him and one to work in for me. “It takes a little bit of trust into selling your business to someone you don’t know,” he said.

My lead analyst was just as supportive. He would entrust me the training of another intern, asking me to help out whenever they have questions on how to evaluate companies. He told me that I would do well in being a leader because I could do things efficiently.

The best takeaway perhaps were the lessons. There was this one time when my boss gave me confidential information about a company and asked me to present my investment thesis on it. I did my research, crunched the numbers, designed the presentation, but I ended up hesitating on whether or not we should buy the company. “I’d rather you take a stand on certain things, ” he told me. “You’re young and you’re eager to make mistakes to do better in the future.”


Jeremy Silverman, co-founder of Search Fund Accelerator, gave 10 tips for the interns last summer:

  1. The opposite of networking is not working.
  2. Don’t wait for all the stoplights to turn green.
  3. Most successful careers were not planned.
  4. People just took opportunities and a leap of faith.
  5. Have a good plan, execute violently, do today.
  6. People might not remember what you said or did, but they will remember how you made them feel.
  7. Listen, execute, learn.
  8. Don’t complain, don’t explain.
  9. Ask questions.
  10. Be knowledgeable and competent; at the same time, be aware of what you don’t know.

My lead analyst gave me a hug before I headed out of the office. He wished me good luck in my new internship in a consulting firm and asked me to keep in touch in the future. I do hope my boss ends up loving his company, regardless of whatever industry it will be in. I’m glad I had this opportunity to work with their team and I wish them success. Whether it will be in another office, in a random mall, or in another country, I’m confident enough that we will cross paths again someday–the learning never stops.

Onwards, somehow.

Received about five messages on LinkedIn from students asking about my SFA internship. Seems like the career advising department directed them all to me since almost everyone is looking for a summer internship.

That being said, Search Fund Accelerator is now accepting applications for their Summer Internship! Details can be found here.