Expectations for 2017

Happy New Year, America!

I believe I can safely speak for all of us when I say, “2016, I’ll see you in Hell!” A new year begins anew, one that is filled with understandable concerns but also optimism in our lives.

Each year, I set out a list of expectations instead of resolutions. I find resolutions to be easily breakable while expectations set out things I want to accomplish while not worrying about certain timelines or strict benchmarks.

That being said, join me as I go through my own set of expectations in 2017…

Career – After a turbulent 2016 defined by two straight job losses, my career is slowly back on track with my current administrative role for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s (VTA) ACCESS Paratransit division, operated under contract by Dallas-based transportation conglomerate MV Transportation.

This year will serve as the first real¬†test as to what the future of my career will look like following the¬†completion of a three-year long graduate degree program in transportation management. My ultimate goal remains¬†to return to the public sector (although I’m already partly there, just as a contractor), working for a transportation agency on public affairs, community relations, transit operations among other administrative areas in the business. I’m already off to a good start this year with MV and I hope to see where I can go from there — whether it involves a long-term future with that company or another organization.

Keep on learning – Last month, I¬†completed the Master of Science in Transportation Management degree program at San Jose State University. While graduate school is over for me, the passion for learning new things continues but in different ways. There are a variety of other ways that could still satisfy my desire to learn more about the world around me, long after finishing my latest academic endeavor. I hope to find time in reading more — borrowing books from a local library, buying or renting books on Amazon, subscribing to online newspapers or magazines, etc. I also hope to find ways to put my writing skills to good use outside of a professional capacity — through regular posts on this blog, contributing elsewhere, consulting others and so on.

Exploring new possibilities – There are still tons more places across the country I want to visit. Locally in the Bay Area, there are still parts of the region I have called home for more than two years where I have yet to fully explore including the North Bay. There are trails¬†yet to be hiked, landmarks to be visited, restaurants to be patronized, trains to be traveled. Whatever the activities are and wherever they take place, I’m always looking forward to the next new adventure.

Personal goals РI still have some unfinished business that I hope to resolve this year. Among them, I hope to finally master the art of riding a bike, learning how to swim, dating for the first time in my life, reviving my philanthropic streak to local and national causes; and rekindling certain relationships with family and friends.

Those are my expectations. What are some of yours? If resolutions instead, tell me! Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the year ahead by sharing your thoughts below.

[Before I go, I’ve made the decision¬†to transition my long-running Reflections and Expectations from a monthly series to a quarterly series. If you’ve been following along for the last 3.5+ years, thank you kindly. The next edition will be published in late March.]

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Expectations for 2016

Happy New Year, America!

Each year, I set expectations instead of resolutions. I find resolutions too imposing while expectations allow me to focus on things I must achieve without hard deadlines or benchmarks. I feel expectations make me less inclined to abandon important goals.

Here are a few major things I expect for 2016…

Professional development –¬†With my career back on track since last April, my focus has since shifted to further developing as a competent professional in the business of marketing and transportation. My expectation is to continue learning and soliciting feedback from my superiors about my performance as a marketing coordinator for a civil engineering firm. That way, I can always be in the know regarding how I can stay at the top of my game.

2016 also¬†marks my final year of graduate school. My capstone semester has already begun — expected to be the most arduous time period of the Master of Science in Transportation Management program at San Jose State University. I will participate in the June convocation ceremony before returning in October to finish out my 10th and final course in this nearly three-year-long program. With this, I hope to further develop as a professional by becoming a part of a future generation of transportation managers — public affairs, community relations or even contracts administration all being top in mind. The possibilities are wide reaching.

Family relationships –¬†Relationships with my relatives have remained stable but mildly troubling at times. Recent developments suggest I need more work in this area.

I’ve previously mentioned¬†in this space about the¬†complicated relationship with my biological mother, who I am still getting to know after a 15-year-long separation lasting much of my childhood. As much as I’m still unsure about whether a relationship can ever be reestablished, I’m still open to making it work to the extent possible.

My expectation this year is to at least ramp up the level of communication with my mother. Although I always maintained respect for my mother as a human being, I admit I fell short in this area in the last few years. Treating my mother with greater respect is an equally important objective I have for this year.

Healthy living –¬†I gained about 15 to 20 pounds over the eight months I’ve been at my current job. When a weight gain is that substantial, it warrants attention.

As I regularly¬†do, I plan to continue assessing¬†my eating habits and identify areas where changes are needed. I expect¬†to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet while curtailing meat consumption in certain respects. I also expect to look into curtailing overall consumption of sweets. All of these are considered herculean tasks at best but I’m still committed to effecting these changes, little by little.

Although not the most rigorous in nature, it just happens that I get at least some workout nearly every day. I still attend vinyasa yoga classes at a local yoga studio every Wednesday nights since late July. I also extensively walk for part of my commute to and from work each day. My expectation on this front is to maintain these minimum levels of workout regimens with gradual plans to incorporate home yoga practices, complementing my Wednesday night classes.

For this new year, I’m looking forward to the following:

Driving –¬†This could finally be that year when I earn a driver’s license. Even after that happens, I don’t plan on getting my own car anytime soon nor driving as much. Having grown up with transit, I make the system work for me. It certainly works here in Santa Clara County with gaps easily filled by Uber and Lyft.

End of grad school –¬†Three courses left — two for this capstone semester and one in the latter half of fall semester. I won’t rule out pursuing another degree or certification down the line.

Trips –¬†I’m headed to Phoenix later this month while I have revisits to Southern California confirmed for March and June. If I can make it happen, Dallas and Houston are top in mind while Kansas City – St. Louis is a runner-up for consideration.

Among others –¬†The miscellaneous things still rule in their own ways. I’m looking forward to the Ellie Goulding concert at the SAP Center in San Jose this April — two days after my 27th birthday. Also, I have plans to attend the grand opening of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension this March and Relay for Life in Mission Viejo in June. I’m sure there’s more as I go along.

What are your expectations for 2015? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you.

Expectations for 2015

IMG_0073Happy New Year, America!

Every year, I set out to make expectations as opposed to resolutions. Expectations are things I expect to see happen without setting concrete benchmarks whereas resolutions tend to be predicated on unrealistic and ambitious goals that get quickly abandoned.

If you’ve read my posts throughout 2014, you’ll know I continued to experience professional and personal challenges that have now dragged on into its third year. I genuinely hope 2015 will finally be the year when my life turns around. I made the same predictions about 2014 and was later proven to be badly mistaken. I’ll be damned if I’m wrong about 2015 too but we’ll see.

With that, here are my expectations for 2015.

Getting my career back on track – After being out of work for 15 months, a terribly long and dismal streak finally ended two months ago when I landed some kind of temporary employment through a staffing agency.

This year, the focus shifts from searching for any kind of work to finding opportunities relevant to my background and career aspirations — transportation and public affairs / community relations.

I’m currently under consideration for a career opportunity in the Bay Area that involves public communication for a transportation agency. I hope I emerge victorious in this particular opportunity due to the great potential that awaits in this position. I’ll find out within the next few months where it all goes.

If not, I still hope to find some kind of work along these lines in the region. I miss working on transportation projects and the outreach side of things. It combines two great passions of mine that are vital to finding out what moves people.¬†It’s been more than two years since I was last in this kind of position and I’m still looking for the next new entity that will give me that chance.

Strengthening family relationships – Generally speaking, relations with my family have remained fairly stable in recent years. More recently, the personal and professional challenges I have experienced has chipped away at some of the bonds and good graces I have established with my relatives.

I sure hope that this is the last year for a very long time where my career troubles remain an issue. As much as I attempted to separate my professional challenges from my personal life, the dam that kept the two issues at bay breached last year, causing some of the tensions and consternations that affected my familial relationships.

My focus is to strengthen and rebuild some of the bonds diminished over the past year. Even though I have no relatives in the Bay Area, maintaining reasonably regular contact with relatives across the country and checking on their well-being must remain a priority of mine. These are people most important to me and I can’t afford to lose them because of problems of my own.

Although it remains a long shot, building a relationship with my biological mother in South Korea is still an ongoing effort. The challenges that impede such progress include the wide geographic distance that separates¬†us, her¬†14-year absence from my life as a child — which she is not at fault for — and existing language barriers — she’s not able to speak English while I’m not able to speak Korean. As for whether any substantive progress will ever materialize from this effort remains a question of its own. We’ll see where it all goes.

Travel РAlthough my financial situation is the most constrained in eight years, I remain hopeful that my financial outlook improves enough over the course of the year to partake in more travels.

Last year, I took only one major trip — Nebraska and Colorado in June. That’s in stark contrast to 2011, 2012 and 2013 where I was¬†used to visiting several new cities throughout the United States each year. I hope to fully get back into the thick of things this year.

My next new cities to visit will likely be Kansas City and St. Louis. I also hope to visit Dallas, where I recently had a cousin move out there with her family as well as a friend who’s been living in the city for many years. Other potential new cities to visit include Salt Lake City, New Orleans and Houston. Potential cities for revisits include Anchorage, Portland, Ore., Boston, New York City and Philadelphia (my former stomping grounds¬†from August 2012 to November 2013).

As for what will happen this year…

Graduate school – I am now into my first year of graduate school at San Jose State University.

I’m still pursuing a Master of Science in Transportation Management degree, hoping to take on a management role in transportation down the road as a public information officer or a community relations manager. The program also will allow me to branch out into other lines of work within transportation including, but not limited to, operations and public policy. The possibilities are endless…after graduation in June 2016, that is.

PRSA New Professionals Committee – For the second year in a row, I’m serving on this national leadership body for young public relations professionals.

Last year, I served as diversity liaison on the committee. This year, I’m a newsletter co-chair alongside Hanna Porterfield of New York City. We are both in charge of putting together a bi-monthly newsletter for the new professional section of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). I came from a background that involved extensively working on newsletters so this should be right up my alley. I also look forward to working with Hanna to producing and delivering a high-quality publication for new professionals by new professionals.

What are your expectations for 2015? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you.

I’ll leave you with this from Fleetwood Mac.

Expectations for 2014: Finishing What I Started

Courtesy: Fox 5 San Diego on Facebook

Courtesy: Fox 5 San Diego (KSWB-TV) on Facebook

Happy New Year, America!

With 2013 now in the rear-view mirror, I can finally look forward to what 2014 has to offer. If you’ve been paying attention to my posts in this space throughout the last year, you’ll know that 2013 had some pretty remarkable moments but was generally a disappointing year overall. I’m hoping that this new year ushers in better times ahead.

Each year, I choose not to make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I set expectations — listing all the things I should do without holding myself to a firm timeline or strict set of procedures. That way, I won’t run the risk of abandoning such goals such easily due to burnout or loss of interest. This year entails having to accomplish a list of things that I should have already completed in years past.

Here are my four major expectations for 2014 — the year I hope to finally finish what I started at some point in the past.

1. Job search – Needless to say, the process that officially began in November 2011 — a month before I graduated from Cal State Fullerton — still hasn’t officially ended yet. (AmeriCorps was an aberration, separate from the current search.)

Despite a string of unsuccessful attempts during the first half of 2012 and much of 2013, I still remain focused on putting an official end to this search this year. I continue to look for entry-level career opportunities in public relations as it pertains to public affairs, community relations and corporate communications. My hope is to work on transportation issues although I am interested in any opportunities where I can still be resourceful and thrive, regardless of the field of interest.

2. Writing – I know. I have been doing it a lot lately, primarily on this space.

If I can take a page from Jessica Lawlor‘s playbook, I hope to branch out more with my writing skills by contributing for others through freelance work, guest-contributing on other sites and blogs and even advising people on how to write. People have told me that I am a great writer and I believe them. Why keep it to myself when others can benefit from my talents as well?

3. Travel – I keep believing each year that my budget gets smaller and smaller that I won’t be able to travel as much as I used to. Last year didn’t see any expected decreases in travel. As much as I still believe it won’t happen as much, I can be easily and quickly be mistaken.

Among the new cities to visit that are under consideration include Salt Lake City, Denver and Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Revisits from previous years that are in the works include Anchorage, Alaska and Washington, D.C. More might come up, domestic and international, as this year progresses.

4. Driving – It sometimes benefited me and sometimes gave me grief not knowing how to drive. I’ll be 25 in April and, yes, I still don’t know how.

The high cost of purchasing and maintaining a car combined with my general preference toward transit are reasons why I have chosen not to get a driver’s license yet. I have previously attempted twice to obtain one but eventually abandoned those efforts for various reasons. For the time being, I have some time to get started on that process once again.

Even if and when I do obtain a license, I won’t be buying a car anytime soon and I will continue to prefer transit as a commuting option. It does, however, open up the opportunity for me to start using ZipCar. That should make for a more cheaper alternative to owning a car.

Now, as for what will actually happen this year…

Road to grad school – I will be starting the graduate certificate program in transportation management through the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University. It all begins Wednesday night with my first class dealing with emergency issues for transportation professionals.

This certificate program is a precursor to my eventual plans to pursue the full Master’s Degree program. For now, I can start out with the program I’m in now, giving me a first look at what I can truly expect going forward.

PRSA New Professionals committee – I am already the new diversity liaison for the PRSA New Professionals executive committee. I hold the distinction of being the inaugural officeholder for this title and this marks my first leadership position on a national level.

After serving in student council in high school in 2006 and on the Cal State Fullerton PRSSA chapter board in 2010, the pattern of holding a leadership position every four years proudly continues. I look forward to serving in this capacity and doing my part to encourage greater diversity and support among minority professionals in the public relations field.

What are your expectations or resolutions for 2014? Share your goals for this new year below. I’d love to hear from you.

I’ll leave you with this.

Reflections and Expectations: The Little Things

People often say the little things in life are what keeps people going each and every day.

For the month of May, no major events or developments occurred that remarkably defined how the month went. However, it is those aforementioned little things that made May a relatively peaceful but a good month.

That being said, how did May play out and what can I expect for June?

May

Informational Interview #2 – I had my second informational interview on May 13, this one with a contact who works at Parsons Brinckerhoff and someone I’ve known for a few years. Much like the first informational interview I had with DelDOT back in February, there was much to learn from that session and much to look forward to in the future as my current job search progresses.

Job Hunt – It was a pretty sleepy month. Other than applying for additional jobs, not a single job interview has been scheduled yet. I have a more proactive strategy this time around compared to last year. The key is to not panic.

Us-passportPassport¬†– After much thought, I decided to apply for a U.S. Passport. I previously had one as a baby when I moved to the United States from South Korea — where I was born — but that’s been long gone. I submitted my application at a U.S. Post Office location in Philadelphia last week. This all comes as I’m tinkering with the possibility of traveling to South Korea within the next few years.

House of Cards – I started watching this show on Netflix in late April while I was at home, recovering from a migrane headache. I finished watching the first season a few weeks ago. As a political junkie, I enjoyed this show for its fine storytelling and gripping storyline. Also, the fact that this show takes place in Washington, D.C. further makes me want to move to the city later this year.

Arrested Development¬†– I started watching this on Netflix as well due to the hype surrounding the revival of the series. Why didn’t I get around to watching this show sooner?

DSC01339

Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti speaking to Prof. Raphael Sonenshein’s (rear, in green shirt) class during the Oct. 26, 2010 field trip to City Hall.

Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti– Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti was elected mayor of Los Angeles on May 21. He beat out Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel 54 to 46 percent.

As an L.A. native now living in Philadelphia, I paid close attention to the mayoral race to see how it played out and because I personally supported Garcetti in his bid to become the city’s new chief executive.

It was during a field trip to Los Angeles City Hall in October 2010 that I personally met Garcetti, who hosted the tour thanks to my then-professor Raphael Sonenshein’s previous ties with the late Tom Bradley mayoral administration and his ongoing involvement with city politics.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with students from Prof. Sonenshein's political science class at Cal State Fullerton.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with students from Prof. Sonenshein’s political science class at Cal State Fullerton. You know where you can find me.

During that tour, I also met the current Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. I had a great deal of interaction with both men at the time about issues concerning the city. I have the distinction of having met the current mayor-elect, current mayor and his direct predecessor, James Hahn, over the last several years.

I wish I still lived in Los Angeles so I could have voted for Garcetti but I know he will serve the city well for the next four years. Best wishes to him.

June

  • Informational interview #3 – My third informational interview is coming up in mid-June, this one with a contact at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Job hunt – Need I say more? I sure hope this ends soon.
  • Penultimate month of AmeriCorps – June will be the month when things begin to wind down for the 2012-2013 service year ending Aug. 1.
  • Community Manager Meetup in New York City – Postponed for a later date, probably sometime in June. Still looking forward to it, if it is still happening.

This is the song I’ve designated as the celebratory song when the job hunt is finally over. It’s the equivalent of popping off a champagne bottle since I don’t like champagne.

2013: My Expectations for the New Year

It’s Jan. 1, 2013…at last.

I’m glad to finally leave 2012 behind. Save for a few select moments, it was one of the most underwhelming and challenging years I’ve ever had. 2010 and 2011 were stellar years for me but I was unable to replicate those successes in 2012. I hope to make 2013 another successful one.

I’m not one for resolutions as I don’t want to commit myself to something I may not be able to realistically achieve. I do set expectations that do not follow a strict set of goals but will help guide me in the right direction and can be adjusted accordingly.

Here are three major expectations I have for myself in 2013:

1) Read more

I already read news articles, blogs and other publications online on a daily basis. However, I do want to focus on finding actual books I would be interested in reading. I prefer nonfiction but anything that generates my interest will work too as long as it will get me started on a frequent habit of reading.

2) Continue traveling while staying within a budget

I don’t have that large of a financial safety net like I used to but I am still able to take more trips near and far as long as I stay within a reasonable budget. Since late 2010, traveling has become something that I have done at least once every few months — sometimes less than that — and it is showing no signs of slowing just yet.

So far, I know I’m going to Baltimore in mid-February for the annual AmeriCorps midyear conference as well as to San Diego in late March for a friend’s wedding. Other potential destinations this year include Boston, Pittsburgh, Gettysburg, PA, Intercourse, PA (yes, that one) among others. Potential revisits include Washington, D.C. (the city I hope to move to later this year) and New York City.

3) Better prepare myself for the second go-around of my job search

This year, I’m picking up where I left off last summer when I suspended my job search in favor of pursuing AmeriCorps. I had a tough time last year when I worked diligently to secure a full-time job in public relations right after graduation. After nearly two dozen jobs that I have applied to and having interviews with four of them, I had no such luck last year in making the kind of transition I had hoped for.

In 2013, I’m determined to finish what I started but with a better strategy and better sense of direction.

Learning from my mistakes from last year, I’ve already started taking initiatives by networking more in the new city I now live in as well as actively seeking out ways to get directly involved in local events and campaigns to get my foot in the door. I’m also reading up on PRSA publications and utilizing the available resources they have in order to sharpen my PR skills.

Combined with my AmeriCorps experience, I believe I’ll be in a better position to really start a career in PR later this year when my year-long service term ends in late July.

I feel optimistic, at best, about 2013. I also feel cautiously hopeful about what this year has to offer. I’ll close with this quote from Abraham Lincoln that sums up how I should go about achieving my goals this new year.

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” – Abraham Lincoln

2011: Setting Expectations, Not Resolutions

Happy new year, everyone!

It’s that time of year again where people like to make resolutions. They promise themselves they’ll stop smoking, lose some weight or be nicer to others. It’s no surprise few actually live up to the goals and objectives they make for themselves.

I, for one, never had a New Years resolution. I think it’s meaningless and any commitments to make a change to my lifestyle should start immediately instead of waiting until the first day of a calendar year.

I may not have resolutions but I do have expectations set for myself. This allows me to identify what I need to do to better myself and how to go about doing that without setting any concrete deadlines.

One major expectation I have for this year is to simply work more diligently to improve my academic standing in the closing months of my time as a student at Cal State Fullerton. I wish to finish my education here on a high note before, hopefully, getting accepted to a Master’s Degree program in Transportation Management at San Jose State University.

My other expectation includes preparing myself for the next stage in life after I graduate including securing full-time employment, housing among other things. I think it’s also worth noting that I desire to spend even more time with my relatives than ever before as well as traveling more.

I certainly hope to live up to all of these expectations and achieve these goals. Wouldn’t you do the same?