Smart Ways To Spend Your Bonus

It’s the bonus time again. I know you’re excited to check your bank account and can’t wait to spend it. But hold on, though it’s your hard earned money, it’s not wise at all to spend it mindlessly. You must spend your bonus in smart ways so you can maximize it for your own good.

Here are some of the smart ways to spend your bonus:

1. Pay debt, mortgage or loan

Whatever debt you have, whether it mortgages, loans or you borrowed money from your colleague for your last vacation, pay it off first.

2. Build emergency fund

Experts say it’s good to have at least 6 months worth of expense as emergency fund in your bank account. If you don’t have it yet, set aside some of your extra money to contribute to your emergency fund pool.

3. Invest the money

There are many ways to invest your money depending on the risk and the return level. Different people have different tolerance on the risk level. Consult your financial planner on choosing the best investment for you.

4. Take vacation

Yes, take vacation once in a while. It’s not only good for your body to relax but it’s also beneficial to your mental health so you come back office feel refreshed and more productive.

5. Take up professional courses

In this highly competitive world, you need to keep upgrading yourself to stay relevant and competent. Try to find some professional courses that can level up your skill. Picking up new language is also a good thing as it can become handy when you deal with overseas colleagues or customers or even just for travelling.

6. Buy something that improves your health
Get something to improve your health to a better one. It can be a neck massager, good honey to drink everyday, or sign up for yoga membership. A healthy body can lead to healthy mind too and improve your overall life.

5 Things I Learned on My First Hackathon

Last week I just had my very first hackathon event. It was organized by UN for Women and Angelhack, plus General Assembly sponsoring the venue. I’d been contemplating whether I should really go for it since two weeks before the event. It has been ages since I last did my coding. Though there’s no pressure from the organizer to have fully functioning app or site, however I was still worried that I would embarrassed myself until the day itself.

Opening speech UNited We Hack 2.0 Hackathon
Opening speech UNited We Hack 2.0 Hackathon

Turned up it’s such a fun and fulfilling experience. Now that I look back, I’m glad I never quit the hackathon halfway. Though our team didn’t win, but we gain much more than what we expected.

Here are the 5 things I learned during the hackathon and why you should join too:

1. Make new friends & networking
Hackathon is a place for you to network and make new friends with great people.
You could even meet your potential employers or investors. You never know what kind of opportunity that you encounter during the hackathon.
2. Get new knowledge
During the hackathon we did have some short workshops or documentaries played. It may not be necessary technical stuffs. Like during the recent hackathon I joined, they did a short workshop on how to do pitching and played the documentaries on women’s role bias in IT world.
3. Push yourself to build the project you’ve been always have in mind
Hackathon is also a place where you push yourself to work with others on the project as effective and efficient as possible. It could be a sleepless night but you’ll feel accomplished after the pitching session.

4. Public speaking skill
The pitching session is the best way to improve your public speaking skill. You’ll need to cramp your ideas or your app explanation and able to ‘sell’ them to the judges in only few minutes.

Pitching UNited We Hack 2.0 Hackathon
Pitching UNited We Hack 2.0 Hackathon

5. Learn to handle crisis
Sometimes things may crop up unexpectedly and you need to know how to handle things as the show must go on. You’ll learn how to do workaround to solve the issues.

 

My first hackathon experience has taught me so many useful things and helped me to improve myself one step further. I’m hoping to join more hackathon events in the future to improve my skills even further. If you never join hackathon before and thinking to join, I really encourage you to really go for it and take full advantage of it.

How I entered the tech field

How I entered tech field
How I entered tech field

Recently I’ve heard so many of my friends are moving to tech field. Some of them know where exactly they want to go, some of them are not sure where to start. They often asked me how did I start in tech field and ask for recommendation. So here is my story, in brief. It’s not that fantastic like other smart people, but this was how I entered the tech field.

I’ve been working in IT field for more than 8 years now. I’ve tried programming, quality assurance, MIS and network roles so far.

I started to have interest in IT when I was in senior high school actually when I learned about programming in Pascal. I had good score too so I can say that I’m good at computer major. Besides taking up lesson school I also joined the computer club as extracurricular activity and joined multiple inter school competitions, also the Olympic game for programming. Though we didn’t have much winning but it’s really a good experience for me. It really opened my eyes on how fascinating IT world could be. I met so many smart people who were better than me and I learned from them. Oh, I managed to secure top 5 in my region for the Olympic game by the way :D.

 

In university time, I took IT major and luckily I got partial scholarship from the school. We learned a lot of programming and my specialty was in .Net. However, on my last year, I picked up some web programming in PHP and built interest on it. I even took a small project in web programming as a side gig to earn extra income.  During the internship time, I scored a job in Singapore, did some programming work and started to learn about Linux.

 

After I graduated, my employer offered me a job in quality assurance role to test the in-house-built application. I really improved my knowledge in Linux and networking here. I even took CCENT certification on my own money because I think it’s gonna be useful to have. After few years then I moved to MIS & support role. The role was to manage the office infrastructure. I meddled a lot with Microsoft Active Directory, VMware and Cisco Unified Communications.

 

Lastly, which is my current job, I moved to networking field in a bank. I got  a culture shock in the beginning because I moved from vendor environment to client environment, from less strict environment to stricter environment, etc. Luckily my colleagues helped me to survive the adaptation period.

 

Like many people say, IT field is definitely a huge and dynamic world. It has so many specializations and it always change every time. What you learn now in average will be obsolete in 3 years time. So, that is why (I think) most of IT certifications averagely last for only 3 years. After 3 years, you need to refresh your knowledge and take another renewal, which is costly.

 

If you want to enter IT or tech field, you need to know where you want to gain knowledge from and what you like. Getting qualification in IT is absolutely expensive, so you better be clear before you pay for anything. You can start from the IT trend that you’re following or you have interest with and dig deeper on the technology behind it.

 

Once you know what you want to do, try to browse around for the available courses. You can try some online introduction courses first, like my favorite ones below:

www.udemy.com

 
Sitewide-10usd234x60

www.coursera.com

 

 

App I’m addicted to now: Pinterest

What is the app you’re addicted to now? For me, nope, it’s not Pokemon GO! And Facebook falls below this app on my list.

My addiction currently don’t really follow the trends. But to me, this app is my daily entertainment and helps me to get through the day.

I’m addicted to Pinterest app! I have the app installed on my iPhone since 2-3 years back and I’ve been using it every morning and evening.

What makes me so into this app is because the enormous amount of information from different category. You can basically find a lot of inspiration for recipes, books, design, craft, even career and personal development articles.

Additional point is that all the information are shown in a glance through cover pictures. You can either get the whole information from the cover pictures (just one tap or click away) or get more details by tapping or clicking the cover pictures.

You can create your custom boards and pin the information you need into it. Pinterest even allow you to create a secret board where you can pin all the information without your connections seeing it. Isn’t that cool?

 

Pinterest Desktop
Pinterest Desktop

I visit the Quotes and Food & Beverages categories a lot. Almost every day I’ll look for motivation quotes to cheer myself up or cake recipe ideas. It’s fun to browse all this nice pictures.

If you’re more serious user, you can make use the Analytics feature to see your pin performances.

Pinterest Analytics
Pinterest Analytics

 

What about you? What app is your addiction now?

How To Prepare For PMP Exam

Project management has emerged into one of the most wanted skills in the IT industry nowadays. However, it is also one of the toughest certification that most IT professionals can experience. The exam has 200 multiple choice questions and last for 4 hours (short break allowed).

These tips are based on my personal experience. I took the 5-day course and 2 months to prepared myself for the PMP exam. Here are the tips to pass your PMP exam:

 

Before the exam


I actually really read the whole PMBOK book. That’s why I took 2 months to prepare for the exam. I didn’t pressurize myself on memorizing the terms but instead trying to understand the concepts more.

I also watched some tutorial videos to help refresh my mind because I took the class many months ago and I was afraid I missed the important points. It’s good if you can have refresher class too from your training provider.

I tried few mock tests too at the same time so I can familiarize myself with the question format.

Read the glossary. My friend gave me this tip and I think it’s helpful.

 

During the exam

1. Make sure you’re well rested and your stomach is not empty

2. Arrive at the testing center earlier

So you don’t need to rush and be panic.

3. Keep pace with the timer

There are 200 multiple choice questions you need to do in 4 hours. That means averagely you need to do 50 questions in 1 hour. Always check your timer and keep pace with it once in a while.

4. Eliminate wrong answers so you can focus on correct answers

5. If you’re not sure, mark the question to be reviewed later but make your best guess first

6. Read the question carefully

Some of the questions are quite lengthy and confusing. If you don’t get it at the first time, re-read the question before answering.

7. Get a short break

Get a cup of water to refresh yourself a bit.

Your Learning Ability Can Boost Your IT Career

IT Career

I read an article on Inc.com by J.T. O’Donnell about one skill (I like to call it a trait) that could fast track your career in the next 10 years time. Currently, big companies observe that there is one specific important trait that successful employees have in common. Google and Ernst & Young call it “Learning Animals” skill and put this into criteria in recruiting new hires. People with “Learning Animals” or “Hungry Brains” skill constantly learn about new things. They are proactive in acquiring new knowledge and they have faster professional growth rate.

In a fast pace field like IT, I feel this skill is important to have. In technology, people can not acquire new knowledge today and expect this knowledge will keep them afloat in their career forever. Technology is a dynamic field. There is always new technology being developed everyday which makes the current technology obsolete in maybe three to five years time. That is why the IT certifications expire in three years in average and require you to renew or refresh with new ones. In order for you to be competitive in IT, you need to keep learning. For me, I aim for at least one certification or new skill every year.

There are few methods to upgrade your skills in IT:

1. Take course or certification exam in the field of your interest

This is one of the standard method in upgrading yourself in IT but this may be the most costly method of all.

2. Join the professional community, forum or interest group

3. Take online course in your spare time

Today online courses have emerged into one of the popular method of learning. You can get new knowledge with minimum cost, at your own place and most of the time, at your own pace. Some sites even offer online programs from prestigious school with certificate. What a deal!