June 2014

Simon Oh:

My good friend Kelsie Buckley has a monthly series going on in her blog, providing a photographic retrospective of everything that’s been going on in her life. I’m included in this post since I visited her in Omaha last month as part of my trip to Nebraska, Iowa and Colorado. Check this post out along with others over on her space.

Originally posted on Kelsie's Organized Chaos:

Just like the quote “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” June had a lot of highs, but then also a big low.

At the beginning of June, I had a PRSSA friend, Simon Oh, come to Omaha to visit and I showed him a few fun places around town. We went to the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge and stood in two states at once  - Iowa and Nebraska. Surprisingly, after being in Omaha for six years this is the first time I’ve been on the bridge! We also went to the Boys Town museum and checked out the largest ball of stamps. We weren’t able to stay too long, but I would definitely check out the museum again to learn more about the history of Boys Town.

The first weekend in June, I also traveled back to Grand Island because one of my best friends, Carissa…

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#Read3: Counting My Blessings

San Jose State University

San Jose State University

When the going gets tough in life, I have learned that it is always important to count your blessings.

This week is one I certainly consider to be a very good week, even though there haven’t been many of those lately.

I learned Wednesday morning that I have been formally admitted to the Master of Science in Transportation Management (MSTM) program, administered by the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University. It is a continuation of the certificate program of the same concentration I started off with in January. At this point, if all goes well, I have eight classes and two years left until I earn a master’s degree that will further my career in transportation.

This is an exciting step forward — as my cousin-in-law put it when she learned of the news — and I agree. This is a program I have long sought to enroll in and now, I’m officially a part of it.

Graduate school is something I had largely ruled out in the past as I did not have any programs in mind that I wanted to pursue. In 2010, two of my coworkers at the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) — where I was an intern, at the time — were already enrolled in the same MSTM program. Both have since graduated from the program. Given that my interest in going into transportation predated my time at OCTA, I learned from them and the program administrators early on how the MSTM program will better develop my knowledge and expertise in the field, preparing me for a leading role in helping shape the transportation policies of tomorrow.

Despite having to put my plans on hold in 2012 and 2013 as a result of my short stint with AmeriCorps in Philadelphia, I finally enrolled in the program in January of this year as a Certificate in Transportation Management student. I received an A in both spring semester classes, marking a very good start to a program that I want to continue on with as a student now pursuing a master’s degree.

A very good start to my first semester in grad school

A very good start to my first semester in grad school

While I am thrilled this bit of good news has materialized, there’s still one thing missing that my life and career depends on: finding my next new job. Past job searches have never dragged on this long nor has it been as difficult. Yet, I have kept at it the efforts to find out where I want to work next — a place where I can thrive and make a difference. I’m still on the case.

We are halfway through 2014. I still believe there is time for things to get even better for me this year despite the personal slump that I have been experiencing over the last two years. Since then, I have gradually risen from that slump in fits and starts.

I also have learned that no matter how difficult times are, it’s important to count your blessings. The hundreds of friends I have across these United States of America and around the world, dozens of relatives that are mostly in California, professional connections and former colleagues on both coasts and in between have all kept me going and remind me that each and every day, I have a reason to live.

Count your blessings, folks. There are others counting on you too.

Have a great weekend and a great rest of your week, America. I’ll leave you with this.

#Read3: July 6, 2014

Happy Sunday, America!

Hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend. I went to Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles Friday night to watch the fireworks show there. Certainly doesn’t compare to the Wawa Welcome America Festival in Philly that I went to last year but it was still a spectacular show, nonetheless.

Instead of the usual three articles, here are some highlights from Friday night in L.A. Have a great rest of your week, everyone!

Reflections and Expectations: The Good Life

Photo: Carolyn Gardner, Pinterest

Photo: Carolyn Gardner, Pinterest

In times of uncertainty and hopelessness, there are some silver linings that remind me that there are always people and things to live for.

I have certainly experienced a personal slump lately that I’m still working to climb my way out of. However, visiting friends in places I’ve never been before and taking care of important tasks vital to my future have served to keep me going this month. The good life is still possible even during times when current circumstances suggest otherwise.

Let’s take a look back at the month that was and look ahead to the month of July.

June

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in Omaha, Jemalyn and Josh in Lincoln and Denver Union Station

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in Omaha, Jemalyn and Josh in Lincoln and Denver Union Station

Nebraska and Colorado – Earlier this month, I traveled to the states of Nebraska, Iowa and Colorado.

My first stop on June 5 was in Omaha, where I met up with Kelsie Buckley, who I’ve known since our PRSSA days in 2011. Together, we took a walk across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge into Council Bluffs, Iowa — I can say I’ve been in Iowa too! — and later explored other parts of Omaha including Boys Town — for which I was a former resident of the Long Beach, Calif. facility in 2005 — and Old Market. We even drove past the house of Warren Buffett, who lives in surprisingly modest settings for one of the richest men on the planet.

The following day, I explored the area some more on my own by venturing back into Council Bluffs for the Union Pacific Railroad Museum and back into Omaha for the Heartland of America Park and the Omaha Summer Arts Festival.

Just after midnight Central Time, I boarded an Amtrak train from Omaha and arrived in Lincoln an hour later. From there, I spent that weekend with Jemalyn Griffin, her husband Andrew and Jemalyn’s brother Josh. Like with Kelsie in Omaha, I’ve also known Jemalyn through PRSSA around that same time while I met Andrew and Josh more recently. Throughout the weekend, we went touring the various parts of Lincoln including the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus (where Jemalyn works), Nebraska State Capitol building and Holmes Lake.

In the wee hours of June 9, I boarded the same Amtrak train and in the same direction for a nine-hour journey to Denver. Unlike Omaha and Lincoln, I know no one in Denver so I simply went to explore the city on my own. Despite some high hopes, I found Denver to be a pretty dull city. It wasn’t all bad, though. I did attend a Rockies game at Coors Field that Monday night — Rockies lost to the Braves — and purchased a new iPhone at an Apple Store there.

The verdict? I enjoyed my stay in Nebraska more than Colorado, due in large part to having friends in both cities I can visit while having none in the Mile High City. I would definitely love to visit Lincoln again.

GMAT – This past Saturday, I took the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) after months of preparation.

This exam is one of the requirements for admission to the Master of Science in Transportation Management (MSTM) program at San Jose State University. I started out as a Certificate in Transportation Management program in January as a precursor to my eventual plans to pursue the MSTM program.

I will find out the official results of the GMAT within the next few weeks. Regardless of the outcome, I hope to be admitted to the MSTM program within the near future.

July

  • GMAT and MSTM – I’ll find out by mid-July as to whether my GMAT total score is enough to grant me admission to the MSTM program. Fingers crossed.
  • Job search – Hard to believe this is still going on. Now, I can fully focus on the search again after spending much of June studying for the GMAT. I’m still getting there.

How’s the start to your summer coming along? What else are you expecting for this season? Share your thoughts below. I would love to hear from you.

#Read3: June 29, 2014

Yes, I can't believe it's already been a year either!

Yes, I can’t believe it’s already been a year either! (Photo: Emmily Hren, Pinterest)

Happy Sunday, everyone!

This weekend marks the first year of the #Read3 series on simonoh.com. I know that hardly anyone reads this series. However, I have kept it going as it ensures this blog remains current and alive through weekly and monthly series that detail what’s going on in my life and some things that might interest you too. As always, tweaks and changes are constant and I hope you’ll stick with me as I go along to bring you a progressively better blog.

Let’s take a look at my #Read3 for this Sunday.

#Read3

1. Your Career and You: “Just Doin’ MY Job” – Don’t take people that respect you for granted. Recognize and acknowledge them for what they do for you.

2. Five Ways To Get A Little Closer To The Elusive Work/Life Balance – You can do it. Believe in yourself!

3. RidicuList: “I’m no expert on vaginas…but I know enough to know that you are not supposed to go in feet first” – When Anderson Cooper gets into these giggle fits on live television, you know that the subject matter is a bit too ridiculous.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July holiday, everyone!

#Read3: June 22, 2014

Happy Start of Summer, America!

It’s that time of year that I both mildly enjoy and dread the most. I find summertime to be a relatively peaceful time of the year although I despise hot — and sometimes, humid — weather that occasionally reaches the century mark. The key to getting through summer? Lemonade. Lots and lots of lemonade. I like lemonade.

Let’s take a look at this week’s #Read3.

#Read3

1. A look back at simonoh.com’s first year – It’s been a year already? Geez.

2. Your Career and You: “Learning…Patience” – Patience is a virtue…unless the person in front of you is paying the bus fare in all pennies while you have a pass. Things start to get testy there.

3. Spinning Millennial Stereotypes Into Professional Positives – Forget everything you’ve heard about millenials and listen to people like us. We’re just having a difficult time getting through, is all.

Have a great rest of your week, everyone!