FRANCO: DETOUR: My Journey To Stability and Contentment in the Workforce

This week’s post for Friends on Channel Maddie talks about one of the realities we experience as we step into what they say, the ~real world.~ Right after graduating from college, some are able to land their dream jobs, some are able to take the next step, while some face all the uncertainties that come with being unemployed.

Franco talks about his story, takes us with him in his journey of making wrong turns and detours, and how he eventually found himself back on the right path, being genuinely stable and content with his career.

Socials: Franco’s Instagram | The Fourcast PH on Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify

Hello, everyone! I’m Franco. I also go by a number of nicknames, though. Frankie, Frankie Jay, and FJ are just some of the nicknames I respond to. I would like to think that I’m a basic person. I’m dysfunctional without coffee, I love travelling (pre-pandemic, of course!), and I love sports — basketball, especially. In addition to that, I’m a very active person, both in fitness as well as with eating. Also, might I add that by no means I am a blogger or a journalist of any form but I’ll give my best try! Oh, lastly, I want to apologize in advance for some of the pictures that I have here. I literally dug them up from the time I had a potato for a phone.

At the lobby of our newest Flagship store, TITAN Fort.

For this blog, I’ve decided to share my personal journey to where I am currently at right now. In a state of stability and contentment in the workforce. Unlike a lot of people, I have never really considered anything to become my dream job. I did think of a lot of things that I said I wanted to do, but those thoughts never really stuck my mind to the point that I wanted to focus on that one particular thing for the rest of my life. I have been uncertain all my life. But, somehow, I found my way here — In a state of stability and contentment — of which many are still far from, some are on the way to, and a few who are already there. So here’s a story of how I made numerous wrong turns, into several detours, and eventually found myself back on the right path.

PART 1: CAMBODIA

It’s been a little over 5 years since I graduated college. I was a Psychology major and was basically destined to be in either HR or Counseling after my studies. As I’ve mentioned, I have been uncertain my whole life. Even my college course wasn’t what I wanted in the first place. What I really wanted though, was to eventually work abroad. So right after college, my dad was able to get a job in Cambodia, and since I was a fresh grad basically chilling at home, he was able to convince me to go with him and move to Cambodia. With nothing set in stone yet, I thought that with my dad’s guidance (and connections), I would at least be able to use this move as a stepping stone for my career. For the first month of my stay, I was living off my dad’s expat privileges. I was living in Phnom Penh’s business district so I had access to a lot of amenities that I both needed AND wanted.

The condo where I used to stay at in Cambodia

After a month, I decided to start looking for a job. I tell you, my very first job interview could not have been any worse. I was invited over for an interview for a recruitment job at a European Law Firm based in Phnom Penh. It was so bad that instead of talking about the job description and requirements, the interviewer was giving me tips on how to get better for my future job interviews. What a shame.

A busy night scene at the center of Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh.

After a few job interviews that didn’t go as planned, I was able to get a Management Trainee job for Cambodia’s top telecommunications company, Cellcard. I got in through my dad’s connections because I really sucked at job interviews. One of my roles at Cellcard was to contact and connect with foreign-owned companies for possible partnerships. As I mentioned earlier, Cambodia is a rapidly developing nation. I was also tasked to handle the application for their candidacy for the Asia’s Best Employer Award, which included a long write-up of what the company basically was. They eventually won the award in 2016.

Cellcard, my very first employer.

However, one of the problems that I experienced while working there was the language barrier. It was really hard to communicate at an efficient level, even to those who were already more advanced with English. My position also didn’t allow me to have my own personal translator. So it was tough. Another reason is my inexperience. I was mainly working alongside people who were already 5-20 years in the industry. Although I was able to learn a lot of things in my experience with Cellcard and Cambodia, I came to the realization that I had to slow my own pace down. With this, I came to the decision to step down and go back home to the Philippines after 5 months in Cambodia.

View from the balcony overlooking a part of Phnom Penh’s developing city.

PART 2: HOMECOMING & HEADHUNTING

I HAVE RETURNED!!! Well… It’s not like I have missed a lot haha! When I got home, my friends were making fun of me for going back home just after five months. I had so much send-offs before leaving for Cambodia. I had a couple of despedidas and my barkada even got me this customized Miami Heat jersey with all their signatures and written at the bottom of the jersey is “CONQUER CAMBODIA”. It’s ironic how it’s now framed in my room here in Manila.

Although I was happy to be home, I felt a huge amount of pressure to quickly look for a job here. Eventually I was able to get an interview for a recruitment firm, which surprisingly, went well. I’m not gonna lie — I took to heart all the tips that were given to me by the interviewer from my very first job interview in Cambodia. And it worked! 

A few days later, I got a text message from the firm, inviting me over to talk about the contract and compensation. Feeling elated in being able to have the chance to secure a job within the first month of coming back, I scheduled for the earliest appointment possible — which was the next day. Unfortunately, I got a message in the morning that the meeting was to be cancelled and rescheduled. They told me that they’ll update me as to when that meeting would be. After about a week of asking for updates, I was told that due to company issues, they’ve held off hiring for my role. BUMMER.

Gutted and disappointed, I continued on with looking for a job. Eventually, I would score another interview with a recruitment firm, and this time, I actually got accepted for the job. The funny thing is, this company is literally the sister company of the one that bluffed me. I would see the interviewer along the hallways and share the most awkward moments. Imagine being in an elevator with the one that’s supposed to hire you and being forced to converse with that person. Sheesh. Most awkward minute of my life.

This is a picture of me when my friend, a photographer, asked me to show her what I exactly felt. This was at the height of all that unhappiness I was feeling at work.

Anyway, knowing nothing about compensation and benefits, and just being desperate to start working, I accepted the job for a ridiculously low salary. Eager to learn about the ins and outs of the professional world, I was very attentive during meetings, I made sure that I did my job well, I was performing well as I would like to believe. Although this was the case for the past few months of being there, I felt unhappy with what I was doing.

So basically in the recruitment industry, we were what they called “headhunters”. You’d think that it would be cool to be called a headhunter in a professional setting, but nope. As headhunters, our task is to look for potential candidates for our client partners based on their necessities and job requirements. At times, we go to great lengths just to get an interview with a candidate. 

I went to a Mercedes Benz showroom disguised as an interested buyer to get details of a salesperson and “pirate” him to a competitor’s company.

I remember one time, I took a “field day” to go to different car dealerships just to act like someone interested to purchase a car then calling the salesperson later within the day and offer him a job opportunity for a competitor. Imagine me, a dude that literally looks like Russell from UP, asking about purchasing a car.

Anyway, closing a deal was a VERY tedious and at most times, demotivating process in headhunting. From my experience at least. Closing a deal means that the client decides to hire your candidate. From my experience, this usually took me a minimum of 1 and a half months to do. From sourcing a candidate, to scheduling a one-on-one interview with the candidate, to endorsing and scheduling the candidate to meet the client, then scheduling additional meetings afterwards, to job offer meetings, then finally, contract signing and on-boarding.

This was the perfect scenario for closing a deal. But most of the time, it didn’t happen that way.

How my desk looks like on a normal day at the office. I source through heaps of candidate profiles both from LinkedIn and from previous candidates of my colleagues to recommend to our clients.

Now, imagine going through all that hard work, time, and effort in 1-2 months to convince that one candidate to join the client’s company, and the client just lowballs the candidate with an unreasonable offer or the candidate suddenly changes his mind and rejects the offer. All that hard work, time, and effort goes down the drain. Back to square one. See, that happened to me a number of times. At some point, I realized that with the salary I’m getting, and the effort I’m putting in this job, it overshadowed all the success I had. 

And that didn’t sit well with me. 

In addition to that, I found the working environment to be toxic. I’d spend countless nights after work staying up and just feeling anxious for the next day. Everytime I arrive at my office, I would have this unsettling feeling that would kind of trigger my anxiety and give me chills. I would spend lunch breaks alone in my car trying to get sleep for an hour instead of eating. I’d get anxious almost everyday when our boss would call us into his office. It was such a toxic environment for me that I had written a resignation letter after just 5 months working there, only to officially submit that resignation letter after 1 year and 5 months. I had no back-up plan at all. I really just wanted to leave the place. 

The only positive thing about my stay in the headhunting company — my teammates.

What made me stay that long? I was afraid of the process of looking for another job, getting rejected, not having money, and not being secured, basically. But I built up the courage to resign and go with the flow of things rather than just staying and further damaging my mental health with unhealthy daily routines. Best decision of my life so far.

PART 3: TITAN

Coming off my resignation, I really didn’t have anything planned as I didn’t want to rush myself back into the workforce again. I wanted to rest from all the anxiety that I received the past year and a half. But then, an opportunity with TITAN arose. I knew I couldn’t pass it up. It’s a brand that shared the same interest I had, which were basketball and sneakers.

So I said, why not? I applied, got an interview. I didn’t think I did well in the first interview, so I really did not put my hopes up. Just when I thought that I didn’t get the job because I haven’t been updated in one whole month regarding the status of my interview, I got invited over for a second interview with the CEO. I made sure I prepared for anything that came my way. True enough, I had a solid interview and I felt really confident about the job. Eventually after two days, I was emailed a job offer. I opened it. E-signed it. Sent it back. “When can you start?”, asked the HR. “Next Monday.”, I replied. I was ecstatic.

That was 3 years ago from today. I’m currently working as an Assistant Community Manager for TITAN. I’m genuinely happy and satisfied with where I am right now. I’ve made so many friends that are also my colleagues. It’s a family. In addition to that, I also get to meet great personalities within the world of basketball during events. I’m in a working environment wherein everyone respects each other. We are all connected by the same “DNA” as we call it. We all have a burning passion, that love for the culture of basketball.

The TITAN Family at a work event
The TITAN Family at an outing in Batangas

Of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t negative experiences. Working overtime, working on weekends, and working overtime ON weekends. You name it. The hardship’s pretty much inevitable. But how did I know that I love my job? It’s the purpose. At TITAN, we have this slogan that serves as my purpose: “For Love of the Game.” No matter what we do. We do it for the love of the game of basketball, and the culture that surrounds it. That’s why no matter how hard it gets, I always keep in mind this purpose. No matter how hard it gets, in the end, I always feel like it’s worth it. 

Our brand’s purpose

PART 4: WHAT I LEARNED

So I have been babbling about my different work experiences, but what have I actually learned from all this?

I learned that it’s okay not to have a concrete plan set in stone. Somehow, someway, if you will it, you will be able to find something that you will be passionate about. Something that will light a fire in you every time you work on it. It may take a while. But go experience as much as you can to find your passion. And when you have found it, that’s when you can start working your way towards it.

Had this tattoo done to remind me to always go on and move forward but also to be open to changes. The arrow symbolizes movement, while the open delta (triangle) symbolizes openness to change.

I also learned not to be discouraged if things don’t go the way I planned to. Although, sometimes, we can’t help being discouraged, always remember that tough times don’t last, but tough people do.

Lastly, I learned how to be brave. And by that, I meant that I was brave enough to accept that there are things that aren’t just meant to be. I learned to accept that I was in an unhappy situation and I was willing enough to break myself out of it. I took a leap of faith. And I will say this: I’m willing to take more.

Here’s a picture from one of my favorite movies ever, Into The Spiderverse. When Miles asked, “When will I know I’m Spider-Man?”. To which Peter answered, “You won’t. That’s all it is, Miles. A leap of faith.

So to you: If you are struggling in finding a way out of a detour. Always remember that a detour is just an alternative road that will eventually lead you to your destination. Go on and move forward. Also, be open to change! Take a leap of faith! These detours present you with new experiences that you may or may not like. Eventually, you will get there. And if you are still reading, and have made it to this point, know that I am rooting for you. 

Cheers!

By Maddie

Hi! I don't know what to say -- I'm not a big fan of introductions and the whole "tell people a little about yourself" thing sort of keeps me on edge so.

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